How it all began...

The Terrapin Nesting Project was founded on Long Beach Island, New Jersey in 2011 by Kathy Lacey. After noticing a serious decline in the population of diamondback terrapins, Kathy knew she had to do something to bring them back and restore their pivotal place in the ecosystem of this beautiful island.

In 2017, Kathy partnered with The Turtle Conservancy and the Leone family (Garden State Tortoise and the Turtle Room) to bring more hands on deck in saving these amazing creatures. 


To date, Kathy and her team of passionate volunteers have successfully hatched and released more than 10,000 diamondback terrapins into Barnegat Bay.  

To learn more about Kathy Lacey and her conservation efforts please visit: Terrapin Nesting Project

Casey Leone

Leeds Point Project Coordinator

Casey was a devoted zookeeper, working hands on with a wide variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  She also has a passion for horticulture with a background in landscape and floral design.  

Her life is dedicated to the world of chelonians here at Garden State Tortoise working with over 70 different species, as well as being a full time mom and wife. Casey is also part of the Turtle Room staff as operations manager and now takes the lead in saving the diamondback terrapins of Leeds Point New Jersey. 

Chris Leone

Leeds Point Project Consultant

Chris is the owner and operator of Garden State Tortoise and Director of Animal Husbandry for the Turtle Room. He has been working with chelonians for over 30 years, most known for his efforts with Testudo species.


Chris is involved in multiple species survival programs concerning endangered and critically endangered species. He is an author, specialist and conservationist dedicated to the survival of turtles and tortoises. 

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