The months of October and November were bustling with student programs for our central coast educators. Through a series of outreach events and service opportunities, students learned about coastal environments and stewardship. 

Photo by Ken Riley

In early October, Rachel Bisesi, North Carolina Coastal Federation educator at our Ocean office, had the opportunity to participate in NC Seafood SMART! at the North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead City. Nearly 350 middle school students from Broad Creek Middle School, Down East Middle School and area homeschools learned about oysters, stormwater runoff and marine debris at the federation table. Rachel also presented a lesson on living shorelines during the Girls Exploring Science and Technology event at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences for high schoolers. The students participated in a marsh quadrat lesson and explored the shoreline with simple nets. Additionally, youth from New Beginnings Church in Havelock joined federation educators and Sierra Club partners on a beautiful fall day at Cape Lookout National Seashore. They engaged in educational activities designed to teach youth about barrier islands, estuaries and living shorelines. 

Students explore the sound and learn about living shorelines during the GEST event at UNC-IMS.

Nothing makes building a living shoreline more exciting than two classes of vibrant high school students assisting throughout the day. Marine Science students from Croatan High School joined their teacher and our central field team in placing 750 bags of recycled oyster shells adjacent to an eroding shoreline along the Bogue Sound. Students learned about estuaries, oysters and living shorelines while they worked.

Croatan High School students work together to build a living shoreline.

In November, a lively group of upper elementary and middle school students from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) class at Camp Albemarle joined us for a tour of the Patsy Pond Natural Area. They walked the forest trail and learned about life in Pasty Pond through exploration. 

Since oyster season began in mid-October, our educators have taught multiple programs on the importance of oysters. Middle schoolers from the Bridge Downeast community group on Harkers Island participated in a guided dissection, and seven classes of second grade students from White Oak Elementary School rotated through a 30-minute activity on oysters. Throughout the morning students observed differences between a tank with live oysters filtering water and a tank of murky water sans oysters. The tanks were a great way to showcase the filtering power of oysters in just a short amount of time!

New Beginnings Church youth at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Federation educators are thankful for the opportunity to work with such great students and community partners, and look forward to continued partnerships in the future.