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Environmental Education on Matagorda

Seine_512x219Bring your group or classroom to the Matagorda Island Unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for a fun-filled, hands-on environmental education field experience.

Recommended Age: High school, college, adult
Classes are limited to 25 students
Groups must secure transportation to and from Matagorda Island from a private carrier

Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge Introduction and Orientation
Learn about the National Wildlife Refuge System whose mission is to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and habitat. Why is the National Wildlife Refuge System important and how did Matagorda Island become part of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge? Get a behind the scenes look. Tour the headquarters and go out into the field to learn about the various management challenges and solutions. What does it take to operate a National Wildlife Refuge?

Beach Habitat
Matagorda beach is where the island meets the sea. Learn to recognize the several zones that make up the beach. Use shovels, sieves and seines to get a hands-on introduction to the variety of specialized creatures that live on the beach. Identify and classify your specimens. Discuss adaptations, food chains, survival strategies. Learn more about how humans often affect the natural cycles on a beach. Participants must be prepared to get wet to the knees; no bare feet; adequate clothing and sun block required.

Tidal Flat Habitat
The tidal flats are where the island transitions into the bay. Visit an estuary, the nursery ground and food basket for much of the island’s fauna. Watch and identify birds. Identify the salt tolerant plants. Muck through the muddy shallows sampling the fish, crustaceans, worms and mollusks that call this brackish wetland home. Learn why this is a bountiful habitat and what threatens its existence. Participants must be prepared to get wet to the knees; no bare feet; adequate clothing and sun block required.

Beach Scavenger Hunt
Visit the Gulf’s beach on Matagorda Island. Go on a scavenger hunt. Identify the types of waste on the beach. Learn what different types of plastic find their way to Matagorda Island. Discuss the problem -- where does all this trash come from and how does it impact wildlife? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution and what can we do? Are there any endangered species that are affected by the litter? Participants must be prepared to get wet to the knees; no bare feet; adequate clothing and sun block required.

What’s in the Seine?!
Seine the bay! Conduct a biological field investigation to determine the biodiversity of the bay. Participants will gain knowledge of the aquatic habitat as a unique environment teaming with an astounding diversity of organisms. Participants will catch and release aquatic organisms while developing an awareness of the need for conservation of aquatic habitats. How many did we catch? I have never seen that before! Go aquatic at Matagorda Island. Participants must be prepared to get wet to the knees; no bare feet; adequate clothing and sun block required.

Endangered Species
What does threatened and endangered mean? Spend one hour learning about sea turtles in the laboratory classroom at Matagorda Island. Experience an interactive hands-on learning environment. Learn how turtle patrols use tracks and other signs to identify a turtle nest. What are some human factors that affect sea turtles and what is being done at the refuge to help?

Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge Tour
Tour Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Conestoga wagon. Walk a trail, visit the fresh water ponds and view the wildlife that live there, possibly including an alligator or two. Visit the observation platforms and keep your binoculars ready to spot birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, plants, and amphibians. Matagorda Island is located along the Central Flyaway and is a critical staging area for many flocks of migrating birds. The Island offers a wonderful wildlife viewing opportunity. This environmental education experience offers an outdoor excursion in a unique remote habitat that has had limited human interaction.
Last Updated: Feb 20, 2013
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