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Retirees in Action: Jill Uttridge

Jill Uttridge, a 26 year HP veteran, is passionately involved in the conservation of sea turtles.

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  Posted September 8, 2009
Jill at the beach in Florida

“HP Retirees in Action," a new series showcases HP retirees and alumni who are active in the business world and their communities. If you know a retiree who might be a good candidate for this series, please email: hp.retireeprograms@hp.com

Jill Uttridge, a 26 year HP veteran, is passionately involved in the conservation of sea turtles. Now living in Florida, Jill worked for HP in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area in various sales, service administration management and Global Real Estate roles. HP spoke to Jill to find out how it all started.

Retiree Spotlight

Q: Tell us about your work at HP.

A: I worked in sales and service administration. My longest and favorite job (12 years) was that of Branch Business Manager. In that role, I was responsible for assuring adequate sales and support assistance and facilities management for the Sales and Service Management teams located in my offices. In addition, I was the face to the community representing HP in our outreach efforts and as a member of the board of directors for the county Chamber of Commerce. I served in that capacity until that business model ended, and then joined Laine Meyer's real estate team (under Bob Wayman), where I was an Americas program manager for three years until my retirement in October 2005.

Q: How did you get introduced to turtle conservation?

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A: My husband and I moved to Florida in 2002 while I was still working for HP. We live on a barrier island and frequent the beach. On my early morning beach walks, I soon discovered strange tracks coming out of the ocean up to the dune. I also notice an occasional ATV with a uniformed rider making note of these tracks as well. I started asking questions and learned that this was the most important nesting beach for Loggerhead sea turtles in the Western Hemisphere, and the most significant nesting location for green sea turtles in the United States—right here in my own "backyard.” There were Turtle Walk Programs open to the public, which are supervised programs where participants go out on the beach at night and observe a nesting loggerhead sea turtle. After going on one of these walks, I was really hooked. I approached the organizers of the program and asked to be trained to volunteer and assist them in their efforts.

Q: What kind of volunteer work do you do?

A: I volunteer for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Caribbean Conservation Corps at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, located on the eastern coast of Florida. My efforts involve:

    Making presentations to increase awareness of endangered sea turtles and their struggles for survival and what the average citizen can do to help protect their habitat;
    Acting as a turtle scout during supervised Turtle Walk Programs during June and July each year. Scouts locate a nesting Loggerhead turtle and allow guests of the program to come onto the beach only when it is safe to approach;
    Participating as a trainer in Sea Turtle Academy, a program designed to teach elementary school aged children about sea turtle biology and protection of the beach and marine environments;
    Working with sea turtle biologist in doing nesting surveys. A certain ratio of nests is marked according to species. At the conclusion of the incubation period and after hatchlings have emerged, the nest is excavated to determine % of live successful hatchlings and if not successful possible causes.

Jill helps during a nesting survey

Q: How does the environment play into your rescue work? Is there local support for the rescue, community environmental awareness, etc.? Any conservation organizations involved?

A: Sea Turtles are fighting against extinction. There are currently seven species of sea turtles in the world that have been swimming the seas and surviving cataclysmic changes for over 65 million years. And while there are some natural causes of their diminishing populations, large scale commercial fishing, marine debris from boaters and loss of nesting beach habitat through overdevelopment and building of sea walls are just a few reasons the sea turtle population is dwindling.

Q: How did your work at HP help you in your volunteer work?

A: Having benefited from the wonderful public speaking training HP managers receive (and developing PowerPoint presentations—a job essential at HP!), I quickly began to help the overburdened staffs of the organizations I volunteer with by attending speaking engagements and helping with educational programs.

Q: What is your most favorite memory about doing this work?

A:While doing a Leatherback sea turtle nesting survey, we discovered two live hatchlings that had been trapped in the deep sand at the bottom of the nest. We were able to determine that they were viable and assisted them in getting to the ocean. It’s estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood, so every little hatchling counts in the race to keep sea turtles from becoming extinct.

Loggerhead hatchling

Q: What else are you doing now?

A: In addition to my sea turtle activities, I enjoy playing tennis, beach walks, and biking with my husband. I’ve also dabbled in silver jewelry art, using precious metal clay to make some interesting pieces. I never saw myself as much of an artist, so developing this skill has been a pleasant discovery. I stay connected with fellow retirees from the North East and am looking forward to connecting with them on Facebook.

Adult Loggerhead turtle

Read more about other retirees in action on the HP Retiree Website . http://www.hp.com/retiree/action.html