Group Programs

Walton and Bay County—State Park/ County property access

Elementary, Middle, High school

The trip at this time is designed to be completed from shore. Future trips may allow use of boats for Gulf of Mexico and Dune Lake sampling/comparison.


This field trip will center on the unique nature of the coastal dune lakes and contrast this habitat with that of the Gulf of Mexico. Activities will be hands on (and wet!) and include sampling, analysis/identification, and Q&A. Activities will focus on water quality; capture and identification of marine life; identifying and discussion of exotics/nuisance species; looking at the critters you can’t see (phytoplankton); observing ghost crabs; turtle games and discussion; taking the opportunity to look for and observe larger marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish; and looking for and discussing stormwater, plastic, and other pollution impacts in the habitat and the implications to the larger ecosystem. The focus will be for students to be able to describe the major physical, biological and ecological features of the unique nature of the coastal dune lake during the field trip and discuss their solutions to man’s impacts. The discussion and salient points taught will be based on the grade level of the class.

St Andrew’s Bay has a combination of seagrass beds, salt marshes, sandy bottom, engineered shoreline restoration, Coastal dune lake, and hard bottom habitats to visit scattered over county and/or state parks around the Bay.


Coastal Dune Lakes provide an opportunity to study many marine science and freshwater concepts in one location. Coastal dune lakes have a unique physical environment that has led to species adaptations that can be seen and contrasted with those found in the Gulf of Mexico. An emphasis will be made to distinguish the freshwater, brackish and salt water species, the adaptations the organisms have made to these lakes, and the issues that can affect their survival.

Participants will carry out sampling activities, observations, and data collection to learn the basic structure of the habitat, how to identify the organisms, the interactions between species, and help them to understand species roles and adaptations to the habitat. Sampling in the Gulf of Mexico shoreline will allow participants to compare and contrast the two habitats. Distinctions will be made to help understand how organisms adapt to the habitat and the physical and biological factors that influence those habitats.

Sample Itineraries

Standard programs include our core curriculum of water quality, invertebrate ecology, marine specimen identification, seagrass ecology, oyster reef ecology, hard bottom ecology. Basic and advanced versions of the core curriculum are available; the advanced options incorporate data collection and are geared towards High School and STEM/STEAM participants. We have many options to customize the adventure by location depending on time available and age level of participants.

Half Day: For schools, these would start once the school buses can bring the students to the location. There would be two core activity stations the students would rotate through for the ½ day adventure. These are the water quality and explore the marsh activities.

Full Day: For schools, the start time again would be dictated by the bus availability and would entail the two core activities listed above plus the choice of two more activities: Blue Crab Observations (Staff will teach participants about the anatomy and behavior of the blue crab and its role in the salt marsh while trying to catch some!), Why Does the Mud Stink So Bad? (Using sediment cores, staff will reveal the layers of sediment in the marsh, why it stinks so bad, and why it is so important to the critters), Critters the Eye Can’t See (Using microscopes and large picture guides, participants will look at the critters caught in plankton nets by the staff to learn about these important critters), Funny Fiddlers (Fiddler facts will be observed both in specimens in aquaria and in the marshes), and Where Does the Water Go? (Using a miniature model of a watershed in the field, participants will examine what happens to pollutants and floods caused by increased surface runoff).

Group Sizes

Group Programs will be limited to no more than 40 students at a time. We would expect the school to provide the teachers who lead the class(es) to accompany the students and 1 chaperon per 9 students as well. E&FCA will set up the appropriate number of stations to rotate the students through so that there will be no more than 10 students per station and the associated staff to lead the activity.

How to Book

Choose your field adventure! Pick your date below on the calendar and register online!  You can also call 850-508-7306 Monday – Friday 8:30 AM to 5 PM to have your questions answered and book your trip.  Student’s costs will be covered by Grants and donations, but we will need a firm headcount for each trip.  For Field Adventures for the Community (residents and visitors), donations will be required to cover the costs of staff and equipment use and to support E&FCA’s efforts during the school year.  The costs will be calculated on a per person basis during booking.  Your donations will help science teachers hone their skills during the summer by leading adventures and will help bring more kids into the field during the school year!  We much appreciate your contributions!

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