I try very hard to keep my blogs about the alligators that I love so much and NOT about any personal issues. Recently, I found out that an acquaintance of ours is telling people that he taught us everything we know about alligators and that he “helps” us out from time to time. Nope, that’s not true! I won’t call this person out by name. That’s not my style. I will tell you that I have known this person for less than a year. When I am visiting habitats I call that being on “Gator Patrol.” This person has never been on “Gator Patrol” with me and has never helped us clean a habitat. I knew from the beginning that Alligator Alliance would only be a 2 member organization. Our “Alliance” is with the alligators. They are our TRUE members.
I have never misled anyone about my education or knowledge about alligators. Before I saw my first one in the wild in Southport in July of 2010, I could count on one hand the things I knew about them. I don’t have any type of degree. What I know, I know because I make it my mission to learn everything I possibly can about alligators. I read every book
I can get my hands on. I then use what I have learned when I am observing them in the wild. Having the knowledge of what I have studied helps me when I am with the alligators. In 2019 we will be taking a certification class at CCSB Reptile Rescue & Rehab Center (Chad Griffin) in Kernersville, NC. We have known Chad and his family for years and we look forward to becoming certified alligator handlers.
I started Alligator Alliance in January of 2015. I can tell you the exact moment I came up with the name for my organization. I am the Founder and President of Alligator Alliance. I make ALL of the final decisions. This project is my baby. From July of 2010 through December of 2014, I did everything I could to teach myself about alligators. I knew by December of 2014 that I wanted to do more than I had in the past 4 years. I knew it would be an uphill battle. Let’s face it, alligators aren’t cute and cuddly (although they are BEAUTIFUL to me!). The main focus of nearly everyone in Brunswick County it seems is saving the turtles. I love turtles (and ALL wildlife)! I support the people who work tirelessly to conserve our turtle population. They work extremely hard and do an amazing job. I just knew from the very first day I saw an alligator in Southport that I had found my calling in life. There wasn’t anyone protecting them or cleaning up the trash in their habitats. They needed me to be a voice for them.
My own parents told me that I was crazy for picking alligators to champion. They said it would never work. That no one likes alligators. That I would get hurt in the process of cleaning habitats. That no one would support me. My mother-in-law even laughed at me when I started my organization in January of 2015. She said “What kind of organization has only 2 members?” Did I let it stop me? No! Did I let it slow me down? No! I am very strong minded (some would say hard headed) and independent. When someone tells me I can’t do something, in the back of my mind I start trying to figure out how I can prove them wrong. And prove them wrong I did! Who knew that in July of 2010, as I stood on the side of a road in Southport, gazing down at Charlie (my first alligator), that in exactly 8 years my little organization would be on the front cover of North Brunswick Magazine?!
People, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let their negativity discourage you. Don’t let anyone take credit for what YOU do. Alligator Alliance was 100% MY idea. No one came up with this except for me. I do not need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps (except for God’s). I follow my own path (mostly through the swamps, LOL). I am unique. I don’t need to copy anyone else. I have my own brain and I can come up with my own ideas. Alligator Alliance is and always will be a work of love for me.
With that being said, I do want to say that I get a LOT of help from my husband (John). Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have a website. Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have brochures to hand out for free. He is the other half of this 2 person organization. When I came home in July of 2010 and was all excited because I had seen my first alligator in the wild, he didn’t act shocked. When I told him I wanted to start cleaning habitats, he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He said he’d make me an extra long custom grabber to clean habitats with. When I came up with the idea of Alligator Alliance in January of 2015, he said he’d support me (and the alligators) in any way he could. And he has. He has been to every wildlife meeting with me. He has spent countless hours cleaning habitats and talking to people about why alligators are so misunderstood. I wouldn’t say he loves alligators as much as I do, (because I don’t think there is ANY one out there who loves them as much as me!), but he genuinely cares about them. We are both dedicated to conserving NC’s alligator population and keeping them in their natural habitats. My husband is also an amazing wildlife photographer and has had photos published in several magazines.
I’ll wrap this up by giving you a quick update on Alligator Alliance. I had planned to write a children’s book about alligators last year, but didn’t get around to it. I am happy to say that it is now finished. We are currently talking to publishers and trying to figure out the best and most economical way to publish it. I am very pleased about how the book turned out. I love to write and I had an idea that I was tossing around in my head. Then the title popped into my mind and after that, the book was easy to write. We have also designed a coloring book. Like the children’s book, it will also be available in 2019.
Once again, we have to thank NORTH BRUNSWICK MAGAZINE and CAROLINA COUNTRY MAGAZINE! Both magazines have brought so much awareness to our organization. We are so thankful for the support we’ve received. We are happy to know that there are a LOT of gator lovers in NC besides us. The visits to our website continue to astound us. We had over 70,000 new visitors in July and over 40,000 new visitors in August. We thought things were dying down a little bit, but then in September we were pleasantly surprised to have over 60,000 new visitors. We love the GATOR LIFE!