Grant: 16-005E
Project Title: Sea Turtle Law and Policy Course at Stetson University College of Law
Project Manager: Royal Gardner
Organization: Stetson University College of Law (Research and Educational Institute)
Grant Amount: $15,979.08
Completion Date: 2016-12-14

Summary: This project will educate law students and graduate students about local, national, and international laws and policies that protect sea turtles. The Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law will offer a special course on sea turtles, “Topics in Biodiversity Law: Sea Turtles.” This one-credit, three-day course will provide students with an understanding of the threats to endangered sea turtles and the legal and policy framework to protect them, from the local level to the international level. Grant funds will be used to provide scholarships for ten students (preferably five law students and five graduate students who are pursuing degrees in marine science, environmental science, or environmental policy at a local university) to attend the course. This course will provide a study of domestic and international legal mechanisms to protect sea turtles and will examine threats to sea turtles, including habitat loss and degradation, incidental take from activities such as shrimping, and direct harvesting.

Results: Stetson University College of Law (Stetson Law) is grateful to the Sea Turtle Grants Program for providing us with this grant. In accordance with Article V(4) of the Grant Agreement, this Final Report and all deliverables are being submitted in place of the 6-month Report and deliverables. The course was held on August 26–28, 2016. We prepared scholarship applications, and using Stetson Law’s online email announcement system, targeted emails, and social media, we informed graduate and law students and professors about the course and scholarship opportunity, including information about how to enroll in the course and apply for the scholarships. Professor Gardner and Erin Okuno coordinated the optional field opportunity to participate in a guided tour of a nesting beach at Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde, Florida. On August 28, James Wilson, the park supervisor, led the tour and allowed the group to observe as he and a colleague performed a biological survey of a nest that had recently hatched. Approximately twenty-five students participated in the optional field opportunity. The evaluations were uniformly positive. All thirty-three students strongly agreed (n=23) or agreed (n=10) that the course was intellectually stimulating. Similarly, all but one strongly agreed (n=22) or agreed (n=10) that the course materials were helpful to understanding the subject matter. All strongly agreed (n=25) or agreed (n=8) that the information was presented clearly and effectively, and all strongly agreed (n=28) or agreed (n=5) that the instructor created an effective learning environment in class. Overall, the course was effective in introducing students to the variety of local, state, federal, and international legal and policy mechanisms designed to protect, conserve, and recover sea turtles. The participation of graduate environmental science students enriched the course significantly and demonstrated to all the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to environmental matters.