For Educators

Education Collage

The refuge hosts a nationally recognized environmental education program aimed at all ages, with specific outdoor lessons correlated to state and national science standards.   Please see the following to learn more about connecting your students to natural Florida!    Please contact Environmental Educator Lori Nicholson at (850) 925-6121 or to schedule your field trip.

 Out of concern for the health of our staff, volunteers, and visitors, all refuge tours, classes, and educational programs have been canceled until further notice.
 The refuge remains open during daylight hours.
 Take the necessary precautions and stay well!

Environmental Education Programs & Field Trips

EE-2018-1Attention School teachers, Homeschool groups and Scout leaders: Come to the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge for a FREE field trip! You can pick from one of our current education programs or our Environmental Educator can tailor your trip to fit what you are studying in the classroom. Each lesson incorporates a variety of hands-on activities into every program. Through multi-sensory experiences, audience interaction, fun animal bio facts and meaningful contact with Refuge Staff, all participants may experience a new awareness and appreciation for the natural world.


Educational Programs/Field Trips are:

  • Free
  • Correlated to Next Generation Sunshine State Standards 
  • September - May (Tuesday - Friday) 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 pm. 
  • Designed to accommodate between 15-50 students 
  • Led by experienced educators inside Nature’s Classroom and outside in the area around the Nature’s Classroom or at the bay near the lighthouse. 
  • Call Lori Nicholson at (850) 925-6121 or email at  for reservations.

Programs offered On-site

Adaptable Animals

Grades K-3     All year

Join us as we visit with a variety of species found in Florida and discover the special behavioral and physical characteristics, which allow these living treasures to survive in their natural habitats. The unique bill of a roseate spoonbill, the special foot of the gopher tortoise are examples of some amazing animal adaptations.  Learn how animals are adapted to survive - teeth, claws, camouflage, eyes, etc. 

Butterfly Encounter  

Grades K-4     Fall

Experience the Butterfly Lifecycle Game, watch a photo packed presentation and look at actual Butterfly bio-facts in our classroom.  

Coastal Explorer

Grades 4-6     Sept – Oct 18, March -May

Explore Apalachee Bay its coastline and marshes. Students use nets, seines and binoculars.  (SAFETY NOTE: closed toed shoes are required, no one with opened toe shoes or bare feet will be allowed in the water.  Bring dry clothes, spare shoes and towels when participating in this activity.  There are no restrooms or changing facilities at the lighthouse) *This program may require more time.

Digital Photography

Grades 4-12   All year

Come learn the basics of digital nature photography!   Take a walk and take photos on the refuge.  Teacher should supply flash drive for photos.

Earth Scientist  

Grades 4-6     All year                           

Students measure temperature, wind and humidity using scientific instruments to learn about and compare various habitats on the refuge. For this program, schools should provide one adult for each 5-7 students. Earth Scientist requires at least 2 hours.

Endangered Species 

All Grades     All year 

The Habitats of animals throughout the world are disappearing. Some species are in critical condition, yet others are on the comeback. Learn about Florida's endangered species. There is hope as we examine this difficult issue and learn what we can do to help.  Students will be introduced to various endangered species found on the refuge and what they can do to help protect those species.    

Feathered Friends

All Grades     All year 

What makes a bird a bird? Learn to identify interesting facts about the different birds of the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Staff use everyday items to demonstrate how birds use their specialized beaks to find food. Students will learn what makes birds unique - characteristics, adaptations, and behavior.  Binoculars will be used to identify birds in the field.

Freshwater Ecosystems 

Grades 4-6     All year                                              

Explore freshwater ecosystems on the refuge.   Students will use thermometers, nets, ID sheets, etc.  Conditions are often muddy, participants should wear old shoes, and you may want to bring a change of shoes. Wading will not take place in winter months.

Insect Safari

Grades K-3     Spring and Fall               

Go on an insect scavenger hunt and learn about various insects.

Lighthouse History

Grade 4     All Year

Tour the lighthouse keepers quarters and learn about the history of our lighthouse.

Living with Fire

All Grades     All year

Learn about prescribed burning, and how to use some of the instruments used in planning a prescribed burn.  Students will explore fire plots and do a field exercise as a “burn crew” to determine if a prescribed fire could be conducted that day. 

Magnificent Mammals  

All Grades     All Year 

Students will learn what makes mammals unique - characteristics, adaptations, and behavior.  Students will be introduced to specific species of mammals that can be found on the refuge.   

Reptiles and Amphibians

All Grades     All year 

Students will learn what makes reptiles and amphibians unique - characteristics, adaptations, and behavior. 

School Outreach Opportunities 

Can’t go on a field trip.   Don’t worry. Visit the Refuge without ever leaving your classroom! A St Marks National Wildlife Refuge Staff member will bring the Refuge to you! Schedule a supplement your classroom curriculum.EE-2018-2 See some topic ideas below. 

  • Adaptable Animals
  • Feathered Friends
  • Skins and Skulls
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Web of Life
  • Birds & Worms
  • Digital Photography

School Outreach Opportunities are: 

  • FREE
  • September - May (Monday - Friday) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Program length varies by grade level and program
  • Multiple Classes and/or grades preferred from each school
  • ALL programs can be adapted to serve each classes needs.
  • Call Refuge Ranger Lori Nicholson at 850-925-6121, or email for information and reservations.

Homeschool Programs

This year homeschool programs will go a little differently to benefit all size homeschool groups.  Each month we will offer a different program.  Each family will sign up their own children for the programs they are interested in.  For more information click on homeschool policy

2019-2020 Homeschool Program Schedule (please sign up for programs only that are age appropriate for your child).   If a minimum age is stated below, I ask that you adhere to it.  On the programs that are geared toward a certain age group but say all ages welcome, that program will be designed for the specific age group mentioned, however if a younger or older sibling wants to come they may, but if they are disruptive they will be asked to leave the program area.  Registration for programs closes one week prior to the program so confirmation letters can be emailed out, and plans can be made for the program.

August 30, 2019 - Coastal Explorer (second – 12th grade); Minimum age of 7

September 20, 2019 -Adaptable Animals (K-3rd grade); all ages welcome

October 18, 2019 -Butterfly Encounter (K-4th grade); all ages welcome

November 15, 2019 -Magnificent Mammals (K-12th grade); all ages welcome

January 17, 2020 – Feathered Friends (K-12th grade); all ages welcome

February 21, 2020 – Reptiles and Amphibians (K-12th grade); all ages welcome

March 27, 2020 – Insect Safari (K-3rd grade); all ages welcome

April 17, 2020 – Freshwater Ecosystems (2nd – 6th grade); Minimum age of 7

May 15, 2020 – Earth Scientist (4th – 12th grade); Minimum age of 9


Tots On Trails

Come learn and play outdoors with your child.  This wonderful program is designed especially for children between 18 months to 4 years old.  Registration is required and opens one month prior to program date; space is limited to 10 children.  Parent or guardian must come with the child.   Call 850-925-6121.   

 EE-2018-3 EE-2018-4

Jr Refuge Ranger Camp

EE-2018-5Check our website each spring for dates, camp will be held in the summer.  Jr Refuge Ranger Camp for children that have completed Kindergarten through 7th grade. Applications will be posted online, and once the deadline has passed, a drawing will take place to fill camp spaces.