Sam Conroy is KTTC’s resident Wormologist. Sam has been a turtle person since her childhood when she was given a red eared slider to care for. Throughout her teaching career Sam has worked with her students to introduce them to the outdoors and to the plants and animals of the wetlands in their own neighbourhoods. Sam firmly believes in teaching our youth to love the earth and the creatures that share this space with us. Sam raises, tags, and releases Monarch butterflies as a member of the monarch teacher network and conducts workshops for teachers and the public. She lives on a small farm with chickens, two border collies, a couple of cats, a beautiful maple sugar bush, a colony of southern flying squirrels, and two amazing ponds that are home to otters, muskrats, turtles, frogs, salamanders, red-winged blackbirds, and one great blue heron.
Sam is supposed to be ‘retired’ from a 41 year career in education, but she continues to work as an occasional teacher for her school board and she is a part-time science instructor in the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at Queen’s. Sam is also a writer and editor, and she has developed the Walking with Miskwaadesi (the painted turtle) elementary curriculum for the Toronto Zoo. She works with the Turtle Island Conservation Initiative at the Zoo, writing story books for children about Ontario’s turtles and providing support materials for the First Nations schools in Southern Ontario.
Sam became involved with KTTC in 2010 when she picked up an injured painted turtle on Highway 7 between Madoc and Marmora. Dr. Sue x-rayed the turtle and taped up her shell which was broken in two places. Volunteer Coordinator Kate introduced Sam to the KTTC and had no trouble convincing her to come and join the volunteers at the Centre. Sam began her career at KTTC as one of the outreach volunteers, accompanying Kate to several public gatherings.
Meanwhile, back in the Centre, PATU 197 laid four eggs while recovering at the KTTC and one egg hatched! Little Miskwaadesi was not much bigger than a loonie when it hatched but it has grown steadily through the winter on its worm, maize, and greens diet. The colours on this painted turtle’s shell are sooo beautiful! To be able to watch the little turtle’s weekly growth and progress, Sam volunteered to become a feeder (actually a worm-cutter/chopper/masticator). Preparing worm bits for turtle-ettes was a challenge and so was getting them to eat their veggies… Sam has a tip for other potential feeders- if your turtles don’t want to eat their greens/salad, chop the greens up into small pieces and rub them over the “worm juices” that are left on the chopping board- mmmm, best salad dressing there is!!
PATU197 was returned to her home wetland in late August by Sam’s daughter and grandson. Soon Mikwaadesi will be released to the same wetland that PATU197 calls home — Sam is hoping to be able to bring this little turtle back to its home.
Sam is fortunate to be able to feed the turtle babies, and the painted turtle patients their worm lunches every Wednesday, and she enjoys being part of the outreach team presenting the KTTC to students in the area. Sam is an Anishinaabe-kwe (Ojibwe) who enjoys sharing turtle teachings with children. She is honoured to be able to volunteer at KTTC, and treasures her time with the turtles and with the other volunteers who make such a big difference in the lives of the turtles.
Sam says “Chi-miigwetch” (a BIG thank-you) to all the volunteers who contribute to the healing of our turtle neighbours.