Spirit of volunteerism: Sea Turtle ambassador awarded for dedication

    From left, Sea Turtle Inc. Chief Executive Officer Wendy Knight awards volunteer Nicki Graham with an ambassador certificate and shirt for completing more than 300 volunteer hours this year. Courtesy photo

    SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — For Nicki Graham, any day involving sea turtles is a good day.

    As a Sea Turtle Inc. volunteer, Graham conducts a variety of tasks with the South Padre Island-based facility.

    From helping in the gift shop to educating visitors of Sea Turtle Inc. about the facility’s rehab patients and permanent residents, Graham is always happy to lend a helping hand.

    This week, Graham was named a recipient of Sea Turtle, Inc.’s new Ambassador Program for dedicating more than 300 onsite volunteer hours this year.

    “It’s really the elite of the elite from a volunteer standpoint,” Chief Executive Officer Wendy Knight said. “It’s people that are here constantly and are dedicated to us regularly.”

    Graham said she is excited about being named an ambassador in the program.

    “It was never intentional or anything. I just really love it and the staff here is awesome,” Graham said. “I’m sharing information and learning something new every day.”

    Graham volunteers three days a week.

    She began volunteering with Sea Turtle Inc. in February when winter storm Uri caused thousands of sea turtles to be cold-stunned.

    “I’ve been passionate about sea turtles since I was very young,” Graham said. “When I started coming down here as a Winter Texan, I knew that when I retired and lived down here permanently that this would be something I would definitely participate in.”

    For Graham, educating others and inspiring children to have the same passion she has for sea turtles is what she greatly enjoys about volunteering.

    “I think it is amazing if you can get them interested so I tend to address the children right off and share any tidbits I have that are going to hopefully make them stick with it for a long time,” Graham said. “Come to Sea Turtle Inc. and share the joy.”

    ahernandez@valleystar.com