Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

School Groups

Quick Details

Checkmark What to bring:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing. It is always much cooler on the water, so it is good to wear warmer clothing than you normally wear.
  • If there is a chance of rain, please bring rain coats and umbrellas.
  • Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a little wet or sandy.
  • Cameras are welcome.
Cost per Student

Charleston Field Trips and School Programs – Barrier Island Ecology Adventure

Barrier Island Eco-Tours offers excellent standards-based school programs and activities for all grade levels. Their staff’s expertise and flexibility to meet the needs of teachers and students is top-notch. Educating people about marine ecology, with passion and relevance, is clearly the norm.” — Edward H. Falco, Environmental Education Associate, SC Department of Education

Scientific process and inquiry skills are promoted and reinforced throughout the field trip as students learn about organisms, habitats, communities, and ecosystems, as well as the environmental and geological factors that influence them.

The first part of our South Carolina field trips is spent on the boat exploring the tidal creeks of the salt marsh. Depending on the grade level of the group, different topics are discussed, including: spartina grass and its role, plant/animal species identification, adaptations, oyster bed communities, species diversity, marsh hammock ecology, geology of the salt marsh, and the importance of the salt marsh to humans and the Atlantic Ocean.

The students are able to experience and learn about marine life as their knowledgeable and well-versed naturalist pulls crab and habitat traps. The specimens caught are put into an aquarium and discussed by your naturalist.

“Thank you for all you did to make this trip so memorable for our 3rd graders. They all said it was the best field trip ever!” – Third grade teacher, Columbia, SC

The second part of the trip is spent on the beach at Capers Island State Heritage Preserve. With over 2,000 acres, Capers Island is a pristine barrier island bought by South Carolina in 1975 for the purpose of preserving it in its natural state.

On Capers Island, there is a diversity of shells, and our guides have fascinating facts about the lives of the animals which made them. Other topics such as sediments, barrier island formation, sand dune function, loggerhead sea turtles, erosion and deposition, beach ecology, and the maritime forest can be discussed. Capers Island is an excellent example of erosion and deposition. Most of the island has been eroding for many years, and the presence of dead trees along the tide line provides a stark visual image of the process we call erosion. Another illustration the island offers is that of deposition, as evidenced by the significant formation of sand dunes over the salt marsh at the southern end.

Groups also have the option to hike a mile-long trail that winds its way through the island before opening onto “bone-yard beach.” Along the trail, you pass through different habitats including salt marsh, a fresh water pond, a large brackish water impoundment, the maritime forest, and an extensive dune field. These interior ponds allow for plant and animal diversity along the trail and are a home to several shy alligators. Along this path, our staff discuss topics including alligators, bird life/identification, uses of the maritime forest by humans, plant identification, and adaptations.

If you are looking for an educational field trip your students will never forget, you must give Barrier Island Eco Tours a call. Our school programs are aligned with the South Carolina Curriculum Science Standard.

“I’ve been to the beach before but never learned anything about how it was made or why it’s there. Thank you for teaching me and my classmates about how the island stops hurricanes from hitting the mainland and the animals that live on the islands. My favorite part was seeing the animals such as blue crabs, alligators and oysters in their natural habitats.” – Brianna, 4th grade