Engaging with a Community to Protect Turtles in Ghana

Dear GlobalEd Readers,

Occasionally, we feature various non-profit organizations around the world that offer educational programs. This week’s blog is written by Dr. Corinne Brion who has written several blogs for GlobalEd Leadership about her research in education in low and middle-income nations. Here she writes about an education related nonprofit organization she started in Ghana.

In 2017, I was fortunate to go to Rwanda to see the silver back gorillas, an unforgettable experience. In Rwanda, the people who used to kill the gorillas to make a living became the tour guides. These former poachers now run the cultural village and welcome thousands of tourists each year. I reflected on the model and knew that an idea such as Turtle Up would come to existence one day. My family lives in New Ningo Prampram, Ghana, home of the largest sea turtle hatchery in the country. 

New Ningo Prampram is located 45 minutes East of Accra the capital city of Ghana. The area is often referred as an ideal place to visit because of its fresh air, beaches, and resorts. However, locals from New Ningo Prampram face numerous challenges. People are living to survive –  not flourish, – and locals are unwillingly accustomed to subsistence living, living one day at a time.

  • New Ningo Prampram is a fishing community, but there are fewer fish to catch because of illegal fishing and environmental issues.
  • New Ningo Prampram is also a farming community, but farmers no longer have plots to farm due to a flourishing construction sector that favors the construction companies but not the locals. In fact, wealthy people buying lands raise land prices for everyone else.
  • Girls often drop out of school to help their family earn a living, help with chores, or raise their siblings. Consequently, it is not unusual for girls to become pregnant early and losing their opportunity for a formal education.
  • Other concerns relate to the lack of education and resources dedicated to preserving the environment on earth and in the ocean. As a result, sea turtles face numerous threats such as plastic pollution, poachers, and shore development.

New Ningo Prampram

Sea turtle hatchery in New Ningo Prampram

In January 2023, Turtle Up was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Ohio (with 501c3 status). We also have an NGO in Ghana-Turtle Up Ghana. Turtle Up’s mission is to sustainably preserve and conserve Ghana’s sea turtles by embracing a community-based approach. Our vision is to contribute to a future where marine wildlife and people in coastal communities are thriving.  At Turtle Up, we believe in the importance of involving all generations in our work and this interdependence calls us toward new kinds of civic, ecological, and global understanding. This lens of interdependence solidifies the global through the specificity of the local. We believe that besides profits, companies have a responsibility to, sustainably and in a culturally responsive way, take care of the planet and its people.  

At Turtle Up, we:

  1. Preserve and protect Ghana’s sea turtles – which are threatened in Ghana and around the world. Ghana provides vital habitat for at least four species of sea turtle, all of which are in decline globally.
  • Organize eco trips for high school and college students to promote economic development in fishing communities. With our eco trips, we provide jobs, and support local businesses while also providing intercultural exchanges and learning for all parties involved.

 A leatherback in New Ningo Prampram (45 minutes East of Accra, the Capital city), home of the largest sea turtle hatchery in Ghana.

Hatchling released safely after a dog attempted to eat it.

Why Turtle Up?

There is no Planet B! 

We all have a responsibility to protect our environment, its natural resources and, where  possible, to repair damage and reverse trends. Sea turtle conservation is an important part of environmental protection because of the key role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems on land and in the ocean.  

Turtle Up is about conservation, education, and community transformation. Our work is focused  on conserving and protecting sea turtles in Ghana. When under-resourced Ghanaian community members do not have enough to eat because there are fewer fish to catch due to pollution, or farmers do not reap what they used to because of global warming, community members are forced to find other ways to survive, e.g., poaching turtles or their eggs. 

At the heart of our mission, vision, and daily work are the 3Ps: Planet, people, and profit (in this case excess income because we are a non-profit organization with 501©3 status). We  believe that when people are educated about humankind’s impact on the environment and they are given steady jobs and incomes, they will thrive, thus breaking the cycle of material poverty.  We are committed to re-invest any profits to sea turtle conservation and the local coastal communities, thus empowering the economic development of Ghanaian coastal communities.

The framework for our work is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  (https://sdgs.un.org/goals). Our signature pedagogy is fair trade learning which includes collaboration at all stages of our work and a community approach to conservation, as well as responsible travel and consumerism. At Turtle Up, we value: 1) transparency; 2) respect for self,  others, the environment, and the knowledge of the communities with whom we partner; 3) collaboration; 4) integrity; 5) sustainability; and 6) equity, belonging, and inclusion. 

Turtle Up is my passion project because it combines helping the sea turtles and their habitat, while also working with the locals and generating income for the community. To learn more please visit our website. Follow us on Instagram: turtleup_org and Facebook: turtleup

So, let’s Turtle Up!



About Corrine and Turtle Up: https://globaledleadership.org/about-corinne-and-turtle-up/