Throughout the spring and summer, North Carolina Coastal Federation educators in our central region led eight Coastal Discovery Field Trips, which reached a total of 128 students and 29 chaperones. Community partners and student groups included: Boys and Girls Clubs of Beaufort, Bogue Sound Elementary School, Brad Sneeden Science Academy, Morehead City Childcare Network, The Bridge Downeast, EnviroKids, Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist and AME Zion Church of New Bern. The groups traveled to various sites including Hammocks Beach State Park, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Hoop Pole Creek Nature Preserve and Harkers Island.

Students from Brad Sneeden Academy participated in a marsh grass quadrant study

All field trips focused on allowing students to explore coastal environments while learning about coastal ecology and stewardship.

Students from Bogue Sound Elementary and the Brad Sneeden Science Academy learned about salt marsh habitats and living shorelines when exploring the shore of Bogue Sound in Ocean, North Carolina. Federation educators created salt marsh data sheets for the Science Academy students to complete using scientific quadrats.

Elementary students from the Morehead City Childcare Network met federation staff and volunteers at Hoop Pole Creek Nature Preserve in Atlantic Beach for a morning nature walk and soundside exploration. The EnviroKids traveled to Hammocks Beach State Park, where they learned about coastal ecology through hands-on activities and exploration. They saw oyster and salt marsh restoration projects, and also learned about marine debris.

Youth groups from Mt. Tabor and AME Zion churches visited Cape Lookout National Seashore

Students from the Beaufort Boys & Girls Club, Mt. Tabor Church, and AME Zion Church visited Cape Lookout National Seashore to learn about surrounding coastal habitats including estuaries, maritime forests, salt marshes and ocean beaches. The Boys & Girls Club students also filmed a public service announcement they created with federation staff throughout the school year. The youth from Mt. Tabor Church happened to visit Cape Lookout on a day that was open for lighthouse climbing, and several decided to climb the 207 steps to the top!

Beaufort Boys and Girls Club students at Cape Lookout National Seashore

“The members of Mt. Tabor thank the federation for this incredible opportunity to visit the lighthouse,” said Matilda Stewart, group leader for Mt. Tabor Youth in Down East Carteret County. “The trip was educational, fun and informative. The kids all said they enjoyed it and would love to go again. The federation staff was knowledgeable, professional and kind. Thank you for choosing us. We have made a friend for life.”

Another group of middle school students from The Bridge Downeast, a youth program geared to reach students in the rural downeast community of Carteret County, met federation educators on Harkers Island for a hands-on marine debris and estuary lesson.

These field trips were generously supported by the Walmart Foundation’s Community Grants Program, Croatan Group of the Sierra Club, Carteret-Craven Electric Co-Op and federation board member Donna Snead. Their financial support allowed students a safe opportunity to explore and learn about coastal environments and would not have been possible otherwise.