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Melody Bell Wilkes teaching a program on sea turtles.

Melody Bell Wilkes

After receiving her biology degree at UNC-Charlotte, Melody lived in Florida.  She was employed for 15 years as Life Science Manager at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale.  She was in charge of 192 species of animals including bats, birds of prey, sea turtles, corals, alligators, stingrays, snakes, sharks and more.  She excelled in rearing Loggerhead sea turtles, bat husbandry, Museum exhibit design of a $3.2 million exhibit space, animal science programming and writing the manuals on proper animal handling and the Museum’s animal husbandry and operation procedures.   One of her most endearing accomplishments was successfully raising 3,000 threatened Loggerhead sea turtles and releasing them. 
Other jobs landed her in the northern preserved area of the Florida Everglades at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge as an airboat tour guide and naturalist.  Melody operated a large passenger airboat and educated 300 visitors a weekend about this endangered wetland.  She also volunteered collecting data while swamp tromping to help save the last remaining strand of Pond Apple trees on the east coast.  After many years of field research, this 250 acre wetland tract named the Pond Apple Slough, is preserved in perpetuity.
When she was a Park Manager and Naturalist at Hampton Pines Park in North Lauderdale, a milestone was achieved.  President Ronald Reagan honored Melody for her accomplishments at the White House in the “Take Pride in America Campaign.”  Melody won the award three times.  She earned valuable recognition for her efforts building a nature center on site, monitored threatened Gopher tortoise populations, erected an osprey nest platform, established wildlife attracting habitats and solely conducted over 100 hands-on educational programs for youth and the general public per year.     

Other Environmental Accomplishments