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The Project Terrapin Team

2017 Summer Research Staff

Project Terrapin is a growing organization that supports habitat projects throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed.  We reach over 6000 people annually.  Project Terrapin uses research to develop sound conservation projects and educational initiatives. 

Dr. John Wnek
 Research Coordinator

John has worked with terrapins at Island Beach State Park and N. Sedge Island since 2002.  He is science supervisor at the MATES School in Manahawkin, and directs terrapin research and the Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program.  John is working on diamondback terrapin conservation projects as well as mentoring undergraduate students on various projects related to terrapins and other natural resources at Barnegat Bay

Ms. Laura Versaggi
Program Assistant

Laura has been working with us on projects and recently developed our terrapin pocket guide. She also coordinates event and project information.  Laura is working on field research at the Silver Lake in Pennsylvania as part of a mark-recpature population study. She is currently  assisting with more Project Terrapin initiatives including our NOAA Crab Pot Recovery Project at Barnegat Bay.

Jackie and Tony Raniero

Jackie and Tony are the heart and soul of the diamondback terrapin research project at N. Sedge Island.  Jackie has marked more nesting female terrapins than anyone in Barnegat Bay.  They are ambassadors to NJ Fish and Wildlife and are field site coordinators for this project.  

Ms. Sidney Anderson
research Assistant

Sidney is a junior at College of the Atlantic in Maine, pursuing a degree in Human Ecology focused in Wildlife Ecology and Herpetology. She has always been interested in environmental studies and could not be more grateful for the opportunity to follow that passion and gain valuable experience.  Sidney was a program intern at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center.

Ms. Casey Hennessy
research Assistant

Casey is a graduate of Rowan University '17 with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies. When she's not working, she loves spending time outside; hiking swimming, taking her dogs for a walk. She hopes to one day soon find a job in the water quality field. 

Ms. Berklee Welsh
research Assistant

Berklee Welsh, is from Sonoma County, California, pursuing a career in marketing with an environmental or marine science focused firm or non-profit.  She has always loved being at the beach or out on the water, and is fascinated by anything that lives in the ocean! She hopes to gain technical and research skills by working with Project Terrapin, as well as sharpening her digital marketing skill set by improving Project Terrapin's online presence.  Fun Fact: Berklee loves to bake and decorate baked goods, and works at a cupcake shop during the school year at UC Berkeley.

Ms. Jessica Harkness
research Assistant

Jessica attends the University of Vermont. Her hometown is Beach Haven, NJ and she is pursuing a degree in animal science and wildlife biology.  With this internship opportunity, she is hoping to gain fieldwork experience by working in the same environment with the wildlife that we all live.  Jess is also a recipient of a Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant as part of its Water Quality Team.  

Ms. Elizabeth Bundy
research Assistant

Elizabeth lives in Pittsburgh, PA.  She is pursuing both Marine Biology and Environmental Science degrees at Waynesburg University. She's hoping that with this internship she can learn different skills used in conservation efforts. She also hopes to learn more about threats to terrapins. She believes that this internship will solidify her future career in conservation work with marine life. 

She chose to pursue marine biology and environmental science because when she was in high school she had a two year long graduation project that focused on shark endangerment where she learned about human and environmental factors that come into play regarding the decline in shark populations. Her graduation project sparked a conservation passion.  She's planning on going to graduate school to pursue marine biology and possibly marine policy.  She wants to do everything in her power to help preserve the marine environment. 

Ms. Courtney Parks
research Assistant

Courtney is from Acme, PA. and a Marine Biology student at Waynesburg University. With this internship opportunity, she wants to learn how to properly handle turtle conservation. She has researched the migration of terrapins along with their nesting habits, and other attributes to predict terrapin survival. She hopes this internship will expand her background knowledge with hands-on experience. She believes this internship will confirm her career choice, and provide an inside view of her future occupation.

She initially choose Marine Biology from her turtle obsession. The obsession started when she bought four baby red-ear sliders. Now, she has ponds, and tanks at home containing African Side- Necks, to mud turtles. She knows how turtles of different species entered the endangered category and wants to be part of organizations to protect the turtles so those species do not go extinct. She plans to continue to study Herpetology in graduate school. 

Ms. Serena Celestino
research Assistant

Serena is a Barnegat, NJ native, and loves spending her spare time exploring the wetlands. She is a student at Rutgers University double majoring in Ecology & Evolution and Geology. She has published in paleoecology for research on a Jurassic aged clam bed. She is currently aiming for a career in landscape and population ecology, but she is also excited to gain experience in all areas of ecology. She will be working on our terrapin nesting projects on Cedar Run Dock Road and the newly developed Cedar Bonnet Island Wildlife Management Area in Stafford, New Jersey.

Mr. Christopher Johnston
research Assistant

Chris is from Pine Beach, New Jersey and entering his senior year at Georgian Court University. He is a biology and education double major with the hopes of teaching special education biology in the future while also conducting his own research independently and incorporating future students in his efforts. Over the course of the internship he hopes to gain more knowledge about the diamondback turtle species in New Jersey and how much of an impact Project Terrapin has on the species. 

Ms. Sophia Piper
Summer Intern

Sophia is from Brick, New Jersey. In the fall, she will be studying Environmental Science at Stockton University. With this research internship opportunity, she hopes to play an active role in the conservation of Barnegat Bay and in the understanding of the roles and impacts we have in our local environment, all the while gaining research experience toward her major.

Mr. Quinn Figueroa
Summer Intern

Quinn is an intern from Manchester, New Jersey going into his senior year at MATES. He is pursuing a career in the field of Biology. He is also involved with the NOAA crab pot recovery project and other programs in Project Terrapin. Quinn is dedicated to help conserve Diamondback Terrapins and their habitat in Barnegat Bay. 

Ms. Elizabeth Reynolds
Summer Intern

Elizabeth completed her junior year of high school at the Hun School of Princeton, NJ. She lives in Allentown, New Jersey and she is hoping to expand her knowledge in marine biology so she could build a solid foundation for her major in college. She loves animals and lives down at the shore every summer which is what started her love for oceans. 

Ms. Hannah Nivar
Summer Intern

Hannah is a rising junior at MATES and is always on the lookout for ways in which she can take action to better her community. Her hometown is Little Egg Harbor, NJ and hopes to pursue studies in marine science after high school. With this internship opportunity, she aspires to expand upon her knowledge of research and become more involved in conservation. She has spent her first two years at MATES as part of the care of terrapins, which has only increased her love for wildlife and their surrounding environments.

Claudia is from Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey, and is entering her junior year at MATES. She is part of the care team at MATES, and would like to pursue further education in the sciences. She is looking forward to helping raise awareness about the conservation of terrapins, and to work in the field, gaining valuable experience in research. She is very excited to be working with Project Terrapin this summer!

Ms. Claudia Schreier
Summer Intern

MATES Project Terrapin is a student-led initiative and there are desginated student leaders that oversee care, education, outreach and conservation.   Over 100 MATES students are involved in Project Terrapin with each student volunteering time. 

Passionate About Conservation?
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