Hello all! Typing this blogpost LIVE from Kane County where we are taking our final victory lap of turtle catching. We have picked up a hitch hiker named Kelcie who agreed to help us sample some turtles in exchange for a shared room. (jk she is a fellow WELian, check out some of her blogposts on this site!)

Kelcie’s usual gig with the lab is to run turtle team. Her job mostly consists of sitting in the shade while adorable turtle dogs do all the work bringing her turtles. This week she left behind her cushy lifestyle to rough it with us in the swamps. We were super grateful for her help as we recaptured all of the 19 transmitter headstarts for sampling. It has been really nice having an extra brain around, considering Michelle and Alexis have to share one. Since Kelcie only gets one week with us we tried to cram in the full Kane County experience for her. This included joking around with the team, getting gas station taquitos and ice cream from our favorite place. Our plan to convert her into a Blanding’s sleeper agent for when she returns to working with box turtles has been slowly working. The other day we even caught her saying “Blanding’s turtles have cuter faces than Eastern box turtles.”

By living with us, Kelcie has gotten a behind the scenes look at this duo . This late in the summer Alexis is pretty used to the night babbles of her sleep talking roommate, Kelcie however was pretty confused when Michelle sat bolt upright in bed and explained to her how the beaker she was using was sterilized. No one knows what beaker she was talking about, Michelle is just so concerned about keeping certain lab equipment sterile that she dreams about it.

After catching all the headstarts, sampling them, and running all the bloodwork in record time we spent the rest of the week trekking through the swamps to recapture adult turtles with transmitters. We showed Kelcie some of our favorite ponds and some of our less favorite marshes, ranked by the the amount of work it takes to walk through them and their mosquito density. With just the three of us being turned loose with a receiver and antenna we tracked turtles through marsh, prairie, and lots of cattails. Alexis operated the telemetry equipment and directed us where to go, Michelle plowed the path ahead so it was easier to walk through while carrying the antenna, and Kelcie brought up the rear offering moral support (and probably wondering to herself how we survived this long into field season with just the two of us.) Luckily Kelcie is very experienced and did not grab the first turtle she saw when Alexis inadvertently directed her to a snapper’s hang out.

All in all we had an incredible final week. We got to relive some of our favorite moments with the team, soak up some of the beautiful prairie, and of course spend a lot of time with adorable turtles. We’re glad Kelcie got to join us and see how we do things Kane County-style. (this was basically the best week of her whole summer and if she says something different in her blogpost she’s definitely lying.)