Beach Steward Sea Turtle Washback Program
A Science-Based Citizen Volunteer Program

Baby sea turtleDo you walk the beach every day in search of treasures? Are you a passionate walker that picks up trash? Then you are
the perfect candidate to be a volunteer for the Beach Steward Program!

Annual Volunteer Training

Successful implementation of the Beach Steward program requires coordination, teamwork, and consistency by all involved in marine turtle protection. Volunteers are required to complete the following:

  • Complete Beach Steward Program Orientation
  • Complete Beach Steward Program Application
  • Attend one beach survey training session. See dates and locations below (No Registration Required):
    • Monday, August 15th 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Mickler’s Beach Access
      Location: South end of Ponte Vedra Beach on Highway A1A. 1109½ Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra. Mickler's Beachfront Park Map
    • Tuesday, August 16th, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Surfside Beach Access
      Location: One half mile north of the Vilano vehicle access ramp on Highway A1A. 3070 Coastal Highway, St. Augustine. Surfside Park Beach Map
    • Wednesday, August 17th, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Butler Beach East
      Location: 5860 A1A South, St. Augustine. Frank B. Butler Park East Map
  • Receive volunteer assignments by Wednesday August 24th
  • Attend first team beach cleanup Saturday September 3rd (1st Saturday)
  • Have more questions? Please read the Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Information

  • Volunteers must possess a valid Florida Driver's License and pass a background screening.
  • Commit to routine surveys in addition to the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month (September to November) for beach cleanups.
  • Children under 18 are welcome to volunteer but they must be accompanied by an adult or guardian.
  • Volunteer/community service hours can be accounted for with this program.

Visit the Washback Toolkit page to learn more.

Quick Volunteer Program Overview

Season is from July 1 to November 30

This program calls for volunteers to walk the beaches of St. Johns County to remove marine related beach debris and to survey the wrack line (line of seaweed) for washback sea turtles. A washback is a post hatchling sea turtle that is slightly larger than a hatchling as it has left the nest and has been traveling the ocean. Once the sea turtles hatch from their nests they swim in search of a large mass of seaweed where they find refuge and protection from predators. They forage here for an unknown amount of time while the seaweed floats with the currents and tides. Sometimes storms and high tide events from August through November push marine debris, the mass of seaweed and sometimes washbacks back onto the beach. They are extremely tired, dehydrated and in need medical attention.

Sea turtles are listed as an endangered species so this volunteer program is authorized and permitted through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and coordinated through the efforts of a Volunteer Coordinator, Zone Captain and several dedicated volunteers. It is necessary to have a flexible schedule to be a Zone Captain as they are responsible for coordinating volunteers through a phone tree system, completing data sheets, coordinating transport of washbacks, as well as being responsible for ensuring the volunteers have the tools for a successful survey (survey tools are provided by St. Johns County).

St. Johns County is grateful to the network of volunteers that make this program successful.