Teaching Students with Oysters

Most folks enjoy eating oysters — but students working with the Coastal Federation also learn about why oysters are so valuable to the environment. The Federation’s multifaceted Oyster Education Program connects students to the coast using the oyster in the classroom and in the field. The classroom and field activities are correlated to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study objectives for K-12 to help teachers integrate the program into their courses. Federation educators work with schools coastwide through the program.

Oyster education extends beyond the classroom and includes different involvement from each educator, but all discuss the importance of oysters when bringing groups out to the field to work on living shoreline projects or oyster reef construction. Oyster-related programming includes service learning through oyster shell bagging and reef construction events, oyster dissections, plankton labs, and scientific monitoring.

Students involved with the Oyster Education Program:

  • Gain knowledge and awareness about the importance of oysters
  • Create and strengthen their connection to the coastal environment
  • Practice environmental stewardship skills
  • Have a fun learning experience

Students dissect oysters before heading out to a restoration activity.

Students line up and pass along oyster bags at an oyster reef construction.

Students line up and pass along oyster bags at an oyster reef construction.

The Incredible Oyster

Why the oyster? Oysters are top-notch water filters, improving water quality by removing sediment, nutrients, and plankton from the water as they feed. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. Oyster reefs provide critical habitats for a diverse collection of aquatic animals, including many important commercial and recreational fish species. Oysters also are an important link in the estuarine food chain, and they are an important recreational and commercial fishery. Read more about our oyster habitat restoration program.

For More Information

The Federation works with numerous schools on its oyster projects. Program availability may vary depending on the schedule of our regional educators. If you are interested in learning more about the Federation’s educational opportunities for students, please contact one of our educational coordinators: Rachel Bisesi, Sara Hallas, or Bonnie Mitchell. Also, look in the oyster section of our Distance Learning Lab for educational videos and activities on oysters.