In 2022, we had 19 volunteers to be Shorebird Stewards on Seabrook Island. These people spent a total of 170 hours on the beach and most importantly, interacted with 746 people. We are planning an even better year this year. If you want to be part of the fun, send an email to SIBStewards@gmail.com.
Some myths/concerns were heard from earlier communications. We wanted to address these concerns:
Myth: You have to know a lot about shorebirds to participate.
Response: Stewards educate people about ways to reduce human impact on birds, not bird identification!
Myth: Shorebird Stewards will be talking to people who already know all about shorebirds.
Response: Every year new people come to the beach to see dolphins or turtles
but don’t know the shorebird story. In 2022, 66% of the people who stopped by the Shorebird Steward Station were visitors to Seabrook Island. Stewards ask beachgoers to respect the shorebirds as they are feeding in the surf or resting at the inlet by not approaching the birds too closely and by walking around them. The message- “Share the Beach-Give The Birds Space”
Myth: I need to approach people to tell them about shorebirds
Response: Shorebird Stewards are trained to respond to people who approach them rather than approaching people who are not interested.
Myth: Shorebird Stewards must enforce the Seabrook Island beach rules.
Response: The stewards program asks you to be a volunteer to help educate people about the importance of our tiny piece of the world to the shorebirds that visit. This is not an enforcement effort, but an educational effort. Contact numbers for Beach Patrol and Seabrook Island Security are available to be contacted if a need arises.
Myth: Everyone knows the yellow “sanctuary” area on North Beach is to protect the sea turtles. Why do the Shorebird Stewards set up near that area?
Response: The area within the signs varies by season and the fluctuating tides. This is a “critical habitat area”. In winter, it is a shorebird roosting area where the birds may rest and conserve energy. In summer, the area may move and is where endangered species nest on scrapes in the sand. Shorebird Stewards help educate people about these uses. Loggerhead Turtles may go into the area to nest and Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol works with the Shorebird Stewards to minimize impact to the birds while also protecting the turtle nests.
Myth: I’d have to be on the beach every day, all day
Response: Shifts are in 2 hour blocks. Each person signs up for as many (or as few) shifts as they wish.
Myth: I have to complete a lot of paperwork regarding my time as a steward
Response: Our website allows you to self-schedule your shifts and makes it very easy to complete a report of your experience after each shift.
Myth: I’d have to be by myself for my shift
Response: Usually 2 people are on the beach together. You can find your own partner or you can register as a single and another single can register to join you.
Myth: People are abrasive to the Stewards
Response: The Shorebird Stewards report that 98% of the interactions are positive. Training includes how to respond to negative people.
Myth: Only children want to talk to Shorebird Stewards
Response: 89% of the interactions were with adults but often, children bring their adults so they can all hear about the birds.
Myth: I have to have a scope to participate
Response: A scope is proved to the volunteers who wish to use it.
Myth: I have to lug a scope, signs and other equipment to the inlet to complete my shift
Response: A wagon is provided for the shorebird stewards to get their equipment to the beach. Stewards do not need to walk all the way to the inlet, they can set up anywhere between Boadwalk#1 and the inlet. The provided equipment includes signs, the scope and even a chair with an umbrella. Stewards are asked to provide their own water and sun screen.
Myth: I can’t participate as I’m only on Seabrook for part of the season
Response: Although the season is from March through May (with possibility for expansion through nesting season), you schedule to volunteer based upon your availability and when you are on Seabrook.
Myth: The Shorebird Stewards are on the beach all summer in the mid-day heat
Response: The peak season is in the spring when the Red Knots are migrating through. Therefore, the season is over before the real South Carolina heat begins.
Myth: I was unavailable on February 24 for training so I can’t be a Steward
Response: If you are still interested in becoming a Shorebird Steward, send us an email (SIBStewards@gmail.com) and we’ll schedule personalized training that works for you.