Grant Programs

The J. Larry Landers Student Research Award

The J. Larry Landers Student Research Award is a Gopher Tortoise Council competitive grant program for undergraduate and graduate college students. Proposals can address research concerning gopher tortoise biology or any other relevant aspect of upland habitat conservation and management. The proposal should be limited to four pages in length and should include a description of the project, a concise budget, and a brief resume of the student. The amount of the award is variable, but has averaged $1,000.00 over the last few years. This is an excellent opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to access funding for their projects. A project summary for “The Tortoise Burrow” newsletter or either a presentation or poster at the following year’s GTC annual meeting will be required.

The deadline for grant proposals each year is the 15th of September.

Please send submissions and questions to:

Jeff Goessling
Eckerd College


Year Name Institution Project
2018 Christopher Murphy University of Georgia Refugia selection by vertebrates in the longleaf community
2018 Allison Kelley Marshall University Patterns of survival and movement in eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus) in coastal South Carolina
2017 Philip Schulte Auburn University Inferring social network dynamics in relocated gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus)
2017 Tim Gemesi University of South Florida Observation of eco-tunnels used by local gopher tortoise population
2016 Meghan Kelley Auburn University Possible effects of upper respiratory tract disease on tortoise olfaction, steroid hormonal cycles, and social behavior
2016 Rebecca McKee University of Georgia Augmenting populations in peril with waif animals: evaluating a new strategy for tortoise conservation
2016 Rebecca Cozad University of Georgia Investigating translocated gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) health and mortality in northwest Florida
2015 Rhett Rautsaw University of Central Florida Examining corridor use and the feasibility of inland retreat by gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
2015 Jeffrey Goessling Auburn University Analysis of pathogen load across populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus)
2014 Daniel P. Quinn University of Georgia Effect of captive diet on nutrition and analyzing nutrition as a predictor of post-release performance in head-started gopher tortoises
2014 K. Nicole White University of Georgia Social network in female gopher tortoises in a long-term study population at Archbold Biological Station
2014 Alex Wright University of Georgia Identifying the spatial extent of a gopher tortoise population and genetic connectivity of populations across a landscape
2013 Brad O’Hanlon Marshall University Ecology and behavior of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake in anthropogenic landscapes
2013 Michelina Dziadzio University of Georgia Predation on gopher tortoise nests using chicken eggs
2013 Mark Margres Florida State University Conservation genetics of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake
2012 Beth Schlimm University of Georgia Investigating linkages between habitat condition and snake species richness in the Coastal Plain of Georgia
2012 Michael L. Yuan Cornell University Characterization of cryptic kin structure in female gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) at Archbold Biological Station
2012 Daniel Gaillard University of Southern Mississippi Relationships of gopher tortoise gut-microbial communities and nutrients
2011 Nicole Hodges Mississippi State University Metabolic bone disease in gopher tortoises at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center and on Public Forest lands of South Mississippi
2011 Joanne Makin University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) Recolonization of scrub and sandhill by gopher tortoises following the reintroduction of fire at Archbold Biological Station
2011 Leigh Colley Georgia Southern University FSH challenge in Gopherus polyphemus and sex hormone differentiation in response to greater carapace length
2010 Pam Pannozzo University of Central Florida Evaluation of translocation as a conservation tool
2010 Jessica Gonynor-McGuire University of Georgia Gopher tortoise population health and disease ecology in Georgia
2010 Chris Catano University of Central Florida Goper tortoise influence on sandhill vertebrate diversity
2010 Kristine Amatuli University of North Florida Ongoing study of gopher tortoise population on University of North Florida campus
2010 Joshua Scholl Florida Atlantic University Gopher tortoise habitat use in a southeastern Florida population
2010 Rachel Smith University of North Florida Gopher tortoise demography and reproduction at White Oak Plantation, Florida
2009 Thomas W. Hentges University of South Florida Is the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) compatible with cows?
2009 Aaron Holbrook University of Southern Mississippi Stress levels in female gopher tortoises and their eggs from low & high impact areas
2009 Jessica Gonynor University of Georgia Gopher Tortoise Population Health and Disease Ecology in Georgia
2009 Anthony Lau University of Florida Home range and movement patterns of Gopher Tortoises in Coastal Sand Dune Habitat
2005 Danna Baxley University of Southern Mississippi Conservation biology and ecology of the black pine snake in Mississippi
2004 Roger Birkhead Auburn University
2004 Natalie Hyslop University of Georgia Spatial ecology and habitat use of the threatened eastern indigo snake in southeast Georgia
2001 Jamie Colson University of South Florida Determination of paternity patterns in gopher tortoises using DNA microsatellites
2001 Jayme Waldron Clemson University Ecology of the canebrake rattlesnake in areas of sympatry with the eastern diamondback rattlesnake
2000 Erin Clark University of Georgia Research and development of conservation plans for the establishment of a reproductively self-sustaining population of gopher tortoises on the Aiken gopher tortoise reserve
2000 James Tucker Auburn University Influence of season and frequency of fire on reproductive success of Bachman’s sparrow in longleaf pine forests of the Gulf coastal plain
1999 Noah Anderson Southeastern Louisiana University Thermal ecology of gopher tortoises
1999 William Blihovde University of Central Florida Movements and site fidelity in gopher frogs
1999 Ghislaine Guyot Upper Respiratory Tract Disease and tortoise relocation
1998 Steve Johnson University of Florida Conservation genetics of the striped newt
1998 William Blihovde University of Central Florida The life history of the gopher frog in Central Florida
1998 Tracey Tuberville University of Georgia Movement and activity patterns of the southern hognose snake in South Carolina
1997 Jeannine Ott Auburn University The relationship between movement and the reproductive cycle in a natural population of gopher tortoises: applications to conservation and management
1997 Kathryn Buchanan University of Central Florida Lake Louisa Sandhill restoration experiment: restoring grasses and forbs
1997 Elenor Mobley University of Central Florida A baseline population study of the southern fence lizard in Central Florida
1996 Melissa Dills Auburn University Coloniality in the gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus
1996 Karl Studenroth and Adrianne Bosarge University of Mobile A survey of the occurrence of Gopherus polyphemus on the campus of the University of Mobile, Mobile Co. Alabama
1995 Michael Belson University of Central Florida Habitat selection by red-headed woodpeckers in the Wekiva River Basin, Florida
1995 Jeffrey P. Demuth Southeastern Louisiana University A test of the effects of incubation temperature on sex determination and performance of hatchling gopher tortoises
1994 Gerald Johnson University of Miami Thermal ecology of the gopher tortoise in south-central Florida: seasonal and ontogenetic aspects
1994 Pamela Kwiatkowski University of South Florida Paternity determination and behavioral interaction in male gopher tortoises
1992 Parks Small University of Central Florida Florida scrub jays in the Wekiva River Basin and an evaluation of a habitat management technique
1991 Judith Hicklin Florida Atlantic University Gopher tortoise habitat utilization in relation to invading exotic woody plants
1991 Matt Osentoski East Carolina University Mitochondrial DNA variation in the gopher tortoise, gopher tick and gopher cricket
1989 Lora Smith University of Florida Nesting ecology, female home range and activity, and survivorship in gopher tortoises

Donna J. Heinrich Environmental Education Grant

The Environmental Education Grant was established to support educators and organizations committed to developing educational projects about the gopher tortoise and the fascinating world in which it lives. The grant also honors Donna June Heinrich, an environmental educator, whose life was dedicated to conserving wildlife and their associated habitats. To apply, please submit the Environmental Education Grant Application. Grant amounts awarded vary from year to year (with a maximum of $2000 per proposal), depending on the amount of donations received. A project summary for “The Tortoise Burrow” newsletter or either a presentation or poster at the following year’s GTC annual meeting will be required. The deadline for grant proposals each year is the 31st of August.


Year Recipient Purpose
2018 Flint RiverQuarium To create a gopher tortoise enclosure in concert with sustainable gardening to feed exhibit animals
2018 Manatee County To create a crawl through fabric tortoise burrow and tortoise and commensal puppets
2017 Georgia Department of Natural Resources To create a traveling gopher tortoise habitat exhibit to carry the conservation message to various venues around Georgia
2016 Tree Hill Nature Center To improve an exhibit, provide new signage and develop and print educational brochures
2016 Jonathan Dickinson State Park Purchase of burrow camera to use for children’s and outreach programs
2015 Zoo Miami To create a visitor engagement cart to be manned by Teen Conservation Scientists (high school volunteers) to interact with zoo visitors concerning gopher tortoises and upland conservation
2015 Chinsegut Nature Center Purchase of burrow scope with DVR capability to reach school age children through their nature programs
2014 Madeleine Dunphy Children’s book entitled “At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of a Keystone Species”
2014 Water Works Environmental Education Center Interpretive panels for gopher tortoise enclosure
2013 Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital Keystone Species Interpretation Signage
2013 Pasco County Environmental Lands Gopher Tortoises – Heart of the Sandhills
2013 Chinsegut Conservation Center Gopher Tortoise Burrow
2012 The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse Plantation Habitat Restoration of the Gopher Tortoise Habitat Display
2012 Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Albany, Georgia Gopher Tortoise Population Survey and Community Programming
2011 Joshua School, SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education Sustainability and Diversity) Creation of the Tortuga Trail: A “living Classroom” Approach to Achieving Gopher Tortoise and Upland Habitat Conservation
2010 Zander Strodes Reprinting 5,000 copies of the Gopher Tortoise Activity book to be distributed for free. You can download a copy from the Education page on this site
2010 Alabama Coastal Foundation Gulf Coast Bay Buddie Program: Development and printing of activity books for K-3 students that are given to students after attending an outreach program
2009 Fort White Middle School/High School Providing materials for their educational program: Restore the long leaf pine forest and preserve the upland sandhill ecosystem at Ichetucknee Springs State Park
2009 Friends of the Enchanted Forest Providing materials for 3 educational programs: Gopher Tortoise Investigation, Gopher Tortoise Outreach, and Gopher Tortoise Cart
2008 The Jekyll Island Foundation Materials for two educational programs: Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins, Oh My! and Turtles for Tomorrow that teaches conservation of gopher tortoises considering habitat loss, modification and fragmentation, the illegal pet trade, URTD and the importance of tortoises as a keystone species
2007 Kristin Wood Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Center Chinsegut Nature Center Tortoise Trail
2006 Abbe Gleicher, Carver Middle School Carver Middle’s Gopher Tortoise Preserve
2006 Sheryl Terepka, J. Collin English Elementary School The Junior Creek Explorers Investigate Gopher Tortoises at Powell Creek Preserve
2005 Daniel A. DeSousa Scrub Habitat Instructional Research Program
2004 Paula H. Chambers, Ph.D. West Bainbridge Elementary School Look! Do You Think Something Lives in This Hole? Elementary students learn about the gopher tortoise and the characteristic animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. Students examine the importance of conservation of the longleaf pine ecosystem

Bob Herrington Student Travel Grant

Bob Herrington, a long-time member of the Gopher Tortoise Council, who served as chair of the GTC’s J. Larry Landers Student Research Award Committee for more than 20 years, passed away in April 2016. His leadership and service to the Council will be sorely missed. In recognition of Bob’s contributions to the Council and his dedication to 30 years of teaching and mentoring students at Georgia Southwestern State University, the Executive Committee has voted to rename the Council’s student travel award in his honor.

This award provides financial assistance to students wishing to present their research at the Annual Gopher Tortoise Council meeting and is funded through GTC membership fees. Students must reside greater than 60 miles from the meeting venue to qualify.

To apply, please indicate in your abstract submission email that you would like to be considered for the Bob Herrington Student Travel Award. Please note your location and university affiliation. Instructions for abstract submission, registration, and meeting details will be available on our Annual Meeting page. Recipients will be selected randomly from among those who submit applications by the deadline for abstract submission. Winners will be notified before the meeting and awards will be presented at the meeting.