Field Adventures for the Community

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 Adventure will explore the role salt marshes play in the ecology of St. Andrew’s or Choctawhatchee Bays.  We will learn about the animals and physical environment that live in this transition between fresh and salt water.  Aged-based activities will cover seine netting and dip netting, water quality sampling, exploration and identification, microscopic exploration of plankton, cryptic creature identification, studies of blue crabs, and other fun learning adventures.

Walton and Bay Counties front the Gulf of Mexico and these estuaries house a myriad of habitats such as salt marshes, oyster reefs/hard bottom communities, seagrass beds, and soft bottom communities.


Salt Marshes are the buffer between upland watershed flow and the marine environment. Studying the adaptations of the critters in this ecosystem helps students understand the sensitive nature of Salt Marshes and how man can change them through upstream watershed development. Age-appropriate activities can be selected to range from seine and dip netting, blue crab basics, exploration/scavenger hunts, explore the world of microscopic critters, and fiddler crab behavior, and many other fun activities.

Participants will be involved in all the activities designed to be hands-on and exploratory and learn how to sample, handle, examine, identify and be taught to understand their role and adaptation to the environment. An emphasis will be made to distinguish freshwater, brackish and saltwater species, the adaptations the organisms have made to the brackish environment, and the factors that can affect their survival.

Sample Itineraries

½ day: The group will explore the habitat through Water Quality and Explore The Marsh activities. Field Adventures for the Community would entail the same two activities, and the start time would be dictated by the group that signs up.

Full day: Field Adventures for the Community participants would also have the option of 2 activities beyond the core activities. These activities include: 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

Field Adventures for the Community will be limited to 25 participants. Parents must accompany their children on the trip. Children must be 5 years old or older. Depending on the mix of ages, the participants will be broken up into smaller groups by age and stations will be set up and the activity tailored to the ages within each group.

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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