Education Program 

Outreach & Education

Education is key to conservation.”In the end, we will conserve only what we love.  We will love only what we understand”. People need to be informed about the issues before they can be motivated to take action, whether it be within their own abilities or lobbying others for a change. One person CAN make a difference, whatever their age. After all, OTCC started due to the efforts of a few children. If we all do our part to spread the word and to do what we can ourselves, we can turn the tide for turtles.

We address many avenues of education; we target all audiences and have specific presentations for each different group, whether they be kindergarten children, or University biology students, veterinary students or a cottagers group.

In 2012, we reached over 12000 people with our conservation message. Our dynamic and passionate education team traveled across the province to spread the word and inspire.

In addition to the general public, we also conduct very specialized workshops for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and wildlife rehabilitators, covering all aspects of turtle trauma. These have taken place from Haileybury to Niagara, and from Peterborough, King City and Toronto. We have helped many rehabilitation centres, private veterinary clinics, shelters and veterinary emergency clinics to start treating turtles or advance their skills. The more facilities willing to see and treat turtles, the more will be saved! We currently have over 12 centres across the province that will see turtles on an emergency basis, to start their treatment.  This makes sure they get timely care until they can be transferred to us for further surgery or treatment.

Our Education Turtle Team 

The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to help injured animals recover so they can be returned to the wild, but sometimes an animal’s injuries are too severe. The OTCC houses a handful of resident “non-releasable” turtles. These animals help us teach people about turtles and inspire them to take action to lend a hand to these animals in need.


Paddy is a handsome 29-year-old male snapping turtle that was admitted to OTCC on May 27, 2012. He was purchased at a pet store as a hatchling 29 years ago! His adopted family was unaware that it is illegal to keep a native Ontario turtle as a pet. It was by chance that the family was at an OTCC outreach event in Ottawa. Following the presentation, they approached the staff member to explain his situation. It was a heartbreaking decision to make, but they decided it would be in Paddy’s best interest to surrender him. Paddy now accompanies us to all outreach events where he acts as an ambassador for his species to help dispel the many myths associated with snapping turtles! We could not have picked a better representative for this misunderstood species.


Blandella was gravid (carrying eggs) when she was hit by a car. She suffered severe injuries to her hind end and has never laid her eggs. These injuries have affected her ability to swim. She would have difficulty with normal behaviours – such as finding food, mating, and escaping predators – in the wild.

Blandella the BLanding's Turtle


Andrea, another Blanding’s Turtle, was also hit by a car. She lost one eye and is almost blind in the other. She would not be able to survive in the wild with this much vision loss.


What Teachers have expressed about our Education Program:

Question asked:

Has our education presentation increased your sense of connectedness with the natural world, interest in wetlands, and concern for Ontario’s native turtle species?


Teacher                                             School                                                Grade(s)

  1. McRae                                      North Cavan                                                 2

I thought it was excellent. Good info presented at an appropriate level.

A great program that my grade 2 class was engaged in from beginning to end. Lots of questions and discussion happened because of all the great info and facts given to us. Definitely recommend program to other classes!


Teacher                                        School                                                   Grade(s)

Logan Williamson                   Queen Mary P.S.                                 4-5-6

Great presentation. Really inspired many of my students to want to get involved to help turtles. The hands-on parts were great for them (touching the shells, building a wetland). I think many will be keeping their eyes out to help their little friends cross the road!!


Teacher                                              School                                                 Grade(s)

Leigh-Ann McGowan             Plainville P.S.                                      Jr. & Sr. Kindergarten

Very much! Great information and interactive parts!


Teacher                                              School                                                 Grade(s)

Liz Hucheson                          North Hope Central                                           1-2

Yes-extremely informative. Loved seeing Paddy travel around the children. The enthusiasm the children displayed was fabulous when the live turtles were presented!


Teacher                                              School                                             Grade(s)

Sherry Meszaros                      St. Martin Catholic School                             1-7


Yes, most of our students live in rural areas and are very involved in activities in Algonquin Park. Our students are very interested in wetlands and how to protect our species at risk.


Testimonial Following a Private Tour:

It is a pleasure to learn from someone so enthusiastic and passionate about their subject matter and you have inspired us to research and promote awareness about our turtles here in BC.


Testimonials from Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas


Question Asked:

Has our education presentation increased your sense of connectedness with the natural world, interest in wetlands and concern for Ontario’s native turtles as species-at-risk?

Quinte Conservation Area:

Absolutely! Witnessing rehabilitated turtles in person helps to reinforce the need to coexist respectfully with these and all animals

We are confidant your info session will be the highlight of many campers week. It was easy to see those making connections and building a positive relationship with nature.

There have been numerous return sessions for Quinte Conservation Area.


Ferris Provincial Park:

Yes, very positive, good interaction and everyone loved the live turtles.

Ferris Provincial Park has re-booked for the summer of 2018


Bon Echo Provincial Park:

Yes!!!! You did fantastic! I learned a lot about the survival rate of young turtles!

Bon Echo has re-booked for the summer of 2018


Testimonial from a Birthday Party:

I first visited the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre last summer with my daughters, Sophie and Madison. I happened to stumble across the centre on a Facebook post and thought “wow” what an amazing place to take the girls. I called ahead to inquire about admission and if we needed to book a tour. The response was amazing, “thank you for calling, we have volunteers who can guide you through the centre, come at your convenience we are open until 5 and no charge for admission as the centre operates on a donation basis”. When we reached the Centre later that day we were greeted by a friendly and welcoming volunteer. We learnt SO much about turtles and turtle conservation that my daughter begged to have her next Birthday party at the centre so she could share her love of turtles with family and friends. This brings us to February and party planning, again I contacted the centre and was directed to a lovely volunteer, Wendy. Wendy welcomed us with open arms. She explained that the centre had talked about hosting parties but had not done so yet. Everyone quickly was on board and soon we had a party in the making!

We had our party Saturday February 3 at turtle head quarters and it was a total blast! Wendy was phenomenal! She had the entire audience completely engaged with her ability to present and share her knowledge . Wendy introduced three different turtle species and gave a detailed story of how each turtle came to be at the centre. The children had a ball meeting the turtles and learning of the turtles stories. Wendy delivered an incredibly fun interactive and educational presentation with the children, they all learned so much!

We cannot thank Wendy and the centres volunteers enough for such a great time!

We learned that turtle conservation is critical to ensuring the sustainability of Ontario native turtle species. What is happening at the centre is really special. The centre has a team of dedicated volunteers who rescue triage and treat injured turtles across Ontario. They monitor, care for and release hatchlings and recovered injured turtles back to their home base. They take on the responsibility of feeding and cleaning up after all the turtles while fundraising and maintaining a multi unit space. Incredible!

Thank you for bringing something so wonderful to our community and for all that you do.


Jennifer Bress
Peterborough, ON