Author Archives: Sadie Gilliom

New Turtle & Frog Technicians

We recently hired two new inmate technicians that bring exciting new skills to the Frog and Turtle Program! Inmate technician Anglemyer is an aspiring journalist and inmate technician Boysen has skills in plumbing and mechanics. Both technicians have already proven to be great assets to the frog and turtle program by improving the frog and turtle tank structures. Under their care, the Oregon spotted frog tadpoles are strong and healthy and the western pond turtles are doing great!

Anglemyer and Boysen in the turtle facility.  Photo Credit: Sadie Gilliom

Anglemyer and Boysen in the turtle facility. Photo Credit: Sadie Gilliom

Here is an excerpt from Anglemyer’s cover letter that expresses his dedication to the frog and turtle program:

Seeking Turtles


With his interest in journalism, we hope to hear more about his experience with the frogs and turtles in the future! We are excited to see what both Anglemyer and Boysen continue to bring to the program!

A Big Thank You for the Amazing New Turtle Shed!

by Sadie Gilliom, SPP Frog and Turtle Program Coordinator

The Amazing Turtle Shed. Photo by Mr. Bruce Carley.

The Amazing Turtle Shed. Photo by Mr. Bruce Carley

The horticulture program at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) needed storage for their tools, and started using the turtle program’s shed. Soon it became apparent that the turtle program would require a new turtle shed.

The project was brought up to Mr. Bruce Carley, the building maintenance education instructor from Centralia College. He decided that if they were going to build a new shed they were going to do it right! He wanted the new building to reflect the uniqueness of the program and provide a new building challenge for his inmate crew. He successfully achieved both goals!

With the leadership of Mr. Carley and inmate Noblin, they created a turtle shed masterpiece! The most magnificent aspect is the giant turtle that acts as a roof for the building. The huge turtle head was sculpted by an amazing artist, inmate Burham. This was his first 3-D piece of artwork.

Inmate Burham and his artwork. Photo by Mr. Bruce Carley

Inmate Burham and his artwork. Photo by Mr. Bruce Carley

Except for some of the roofing supplies, the building materials were re-claimed and recycled products. Thermoplastic polyolefin was used as the stretchy material on the roof and was a new building material to both the inmates and Mr. Carley. In addition, a prismatic skylight was installed. This skylight brings heat and light into the shed and was a new installation experience for the inmate crew!

Mr. Bruce Carley and the Turtle Shed Crew. Photo by Sadie Gilliom

Mr. Bruce Carley and the Turtle Shed Crew. Photo by Sadie Gilliom

Thank you so much to everyone involved in the project and for providing the turtle program with such a unique and representative structure! Thank you to Mr. Carley for your initiative, expertise, guidance and skill building! Thank you to inmate Burham for your beautiful artwork! Thank you inmate Noblin for your leadership skills! Thank you inmates Gronholz, Torres, Gosney, Wharton, Easton, Ausen, Feltus, Jackson and Link for all of your hard work! Finally, thank you Superintendent Cole and all other staff involved for your support of this project!

This shed is currently used to store turtle supplies, but in the future it will also serve as a cricket house. CCCC and SPP are currently searching for the best form of green energy to use to power the turtle shed. We will keep you posted on this exciting new venture!

Freedom of the Frogs!

By Sadie Gilliom, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Frog thinking about taking the leap out of Ms. Sibley’s hand.  Photo by Sadie Gilliom

On a drizzly September morning, a diverse team of professionals gathered at a wetland in Pierce County. Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) representatives were part of the group that also included staff from Northwest Trek Wildlife Park (Northwest Trek), the Center for Natural Lands Management, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The 153 state-endangered and federally-threatened Oregon spotted frogs (Rana pretiosa) pop-corning in tubs in the middle of the group were the focus of attention, it was release day!

The frogs were released into their natural habitat with the hope of boosting the population of this struggling species. Sixty-four were reared by SPP inmate technicians at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) while the remaining frogs were reared by zoo professionals at Northwest Trek. Late winter, biologists from WDFW gathered eggs from the wild and delivered them to the facilities where they were raised with protection from predation, disease, and habitat disturbance. Over the spring and summer the tadpoles hatched and developed into frogs under the care of zoo staff and inmate technicians.

The frogs seemed to anticipate their release. They jumped excitedly in their containers as they were carried down to the site. As the team gathered at the edge of the wetland, the sun broke through the clouds, as though to wish the frogs good luck on their journey into the wild. The frogs were released with time to adapt to their natural environment before the chill of winter sets in.

The release was an opportunity to enjoy the results of everyone’s hard work, coordination, and collaboration over the rearing season. The first frogs were released by SPP Liaison and CCCC Classification Counselor, Ms. Sibley. She popped the lid off the tub and the frogs sprang into the water. Most were gone in a flash, but a few were hesitant, staring at their new world for several minutes before springing into action. Throughout the release there were shouts of glee, handshakes, and smiles as all the frogs eventually hopped to freedom.

Sadie Gilliom encouraging the last few frogs. Photo by Lindsey Hamilton

It is important to acknowledge a few of the people that helped make this season successful. Thank you Fiona Edwards! Fiona completed her term as SPP’s Frog and Turtle Program Coordinator this season and trained me to take on the responsibilities of the position. I also want to acknowledge Classification Counselors Pickard and Sibley for the time and effort they invested to make the program possible at CCCC. As Mr. Pickard recently accepted a new job, Ms. Sibley capably stepped into the DOC Liaison role. We wish Mr. Pickard well in his new position and appreciate his contributions. A huge thank you to Mr. Nuss, the inmate technician working throughout the season to provide the excellent care that resulted in healthy and robust frogs on release day. Finally, thanks to Superintendent Cole for his continued, passionate support for the program.

Fiona Edwards giving a frog a pep talk. Photo by Sadie Gilliom

There are many other partners that help make the SPP frog program possible: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Woodland Park Zoo; Marc Hayes, Tammy Schmidt, and other staff at WDFW; SPP staff and leadership; and the many others who have contributed to the effort to save this valuable indicator species! Good luck Oregon spotted frogs of 2014! We wish you a successful and prolific future!

New to the Frog and Turtle Program!

By Sadie Gilliom, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Sadie teaching teen summer campers from Thurston County how to identify native trees at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Alex Gilliom.

Greetings Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) followers!

My name is Sadie Gilliom. I am the new Oregon Spotted Frog and Western Pond Turtle Program Coordinator as of August 19th.

I am excited to be a part of the SPP team and put my two great passions to work in one job: amphibian and reptile conservation and interpreting our natural world. I have always had a great love of amphibians and reptiles. I spent a great deal of my childhood watching red-legged frogs swimming in my pond, swimming with the rough-skinned newts in Shelton, WA, and watching turtles from my kayak on a lake in Michigan. Almost as much as I loved these adventures, I loved telling people about them. I have always enjoyed telling stories and using mind boggling facts to excite people about nature.

My passion for interpretation led me to become a member of the National Association of Interpretation and be certified as an Interpretive Guide. I hope to use the skills I gained in their programs to inspire stewardship in the inmate technicians at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC).

As well as my passions, my previous job experience has led me to feel at home in the world of SPP. Through zoo keeping at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, interpreting Pacific Northwest wildlife at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and volunteering for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, I have gained both experience and connections in the field. I am looking forward to continuing to work with these organizations, now as program partners, and I hope to help strengthen SPP’s link to these partners. In addition, I hope to pass my job skills to the technicians at CCCC.

I am excited to start my Master of Environmental Studies at The Evergreen State College and have a head start in becoming part of the Evergreen community by working with SPP. Although it is awhile before I will start to write, I hope to involve SPP in my thesis and, in doing so, strengthen the partnerships between Evergreen, the Department of Corrections, and SPP.

I am thrilled to continue on my new SPP adventure and will keep you all posted on new highlights on our frog and turtle programs at Cedar Creek Corrections Center.