Tracey Lemon is devoted to a cause greater than herself. Since her early retirement, she has spent her life volunteering with Tambor Bay Turtles, a non-profit organization based in Costa Rica.
The organization’s objectives are to protect the country’s remaining sea turtles and grow their population.
By volunteering for TBT, Tracey has contributed to a dramatic increase in the survival rate of Costa Rican sea turtles.
But how did she come to be the dedicated conservationist she is today?
What Made Tracey Lemon Love Nature?
Amongst conservationists, Tracey is unique in that she did not study biology at a university level. Instead, her love for nature is rooted in childhood memories, long walks with her father throughout the Virginia countryside, where she and her family briefly lived.
Her family also spent some time living in North Carolina, nearby beaches filled with sea turtles.
Tracey’s early observations of the creatures planted a seed within her that would fully blossom much later in life, when she began volunteering with TBT.
Tracey Lemon Lived Many Lives Before Finding Her Home at Tambor Bay Turtles
In college, Tracey was initially studying agricultural science, striving to one day become an extension agent. While she enjoyed the field, she never felt that it was her true passion.
Coupling this with the fact that extension agents were, at the time, paid relatively low wages, she felt that she needed to change the trajectory of her life. So she joined the army.
While certainly not an easy experience, her time in the army ultimately paid off: because of the G.I. Bill, she had her first house, first car, and college tuition paid for.
While stationed in Denver, she went to optometry school, eventually transitioning into a civilian job as an optometrist in Florida.
But when her employer’s biggest investor backed out, she was left jobless. She soon took up real estate, a lucrative career that allowed her to retire early.
She and her husband, who is equally concerned with the preservation of nature, then moved to Costa Rica and began volunteering with Tambor Bay Turtles.
Why Is Tracey Lemon an Everyday Hero?
Tracey does not get paid for her work with TBT: She does it strictly out of love for both the turtles and humankind. But how does an increased survival rate of sea turtles actually benefit people?
Sea turtles are what’s known as a “keystone species.” According to National Geographic, “In a marine ecosystem, or any type of ecosystem, a keystone species is an organism that helps hold the system together.”
Sea turtles are, as Tracey says, “cleaners of the ocean.” They are herbivores that scrape seagrass and algae from coral reefs, thus keeping coral reefs clean and in shape to produce oxygen.
“If we lost sea turtles, it would be detrimental to humans,” Tracey said.
How Has Tracey Lemon Changed Her Community for the Better?
Tracey has two primary roles in TBT, the first being the guarding of turtle nests from poachers and other wildlife, and the second being the education of the community’s children, something that has proven vital in ending the once-common practice of poaching.
Tracey and her co-volunteers regularly speak at local schools about the detrimental effects of poaching, and their instruction seems to be making quite the impact on the students.
To exemplify the benefits of conservation education, when Tracey began working with TBT, about half of the local turtle nests were being poached annually: In the last year, only two nests were poached.
Turtle eggs are poached for their supposed aphrodisiacal effects, despite the fact that scientific evidence implies that this effect is merely a myth.
Tracey Lemon on How TBT Is Funded
While TBT’s local community backs the organization in spirit, raising funds has always been a struggle.
According to Tracey, volunteers oftentimes have to “beg” for donations. However, there are a few other avenues through which the org manages to continue operations.
Firstly, a small portion of the lodging/meal fee that volunteers pay goes directly to the org itself. Secondly, they sell “adopt-a-nests” to schools, giving children the opportunity to witness the lifecycle of a sea turtle first-hand.
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Lastly, TBT hosts an annual art auction fundraiser. All of the art sold at the event is locally crafted.
Not only does the event financially benefit the org, but spotlights the works of local artists, who are often overlooked in the art world due Costa Rica’s remoteness.
Tracey Lemons Is a Hero
Tracey Lemon has chosen to dedicate her time in retirement to a cause that benefits humankind.
By contributing to a higher survival rate of sea turtles, she has contributed to a better environment overall. She has left a mark on the world that will be evident even after her passing.
As she herself said, “I know I will live on only because of the impact I make.”
Tambor Bay Turtle Resources
Find out how you can support Tambor Bay Turtles:
Visit the website at Tambor Bay Turtles.
Donate through PayPal, Zelle, Cryptocurrency, by check and more at Amigos of Costa Rica.