Environmental Education Opportunities

We are excited to offer environmental education opportunities for all ages and abilities at the refuge! Limited funding may be available for high-needs educational

 groups to cover the cost of transportation, adaptive tools and technology, or other reasonable accommodations. Ranger-led programs typically last 90 minutes, with additional time provided for self-guided exploration. Fully self-guided programs provide a flexible timeline, and refuge staff are happy to work with you to identify appropriate dates, times, and locations for self-guided visits. Resources, such as scavenger hunts, activity sheets, or trail guides, may be available for certain self-guided opportunities.

How do I request a field trip?

Please use the field trip request form to submit your field trip request. Due to the high volume of requests received annually, your request may not be available until the following school year. We will do our best to support as many classrooms as possible, and appreciate your patience and understanding. If you have not been contacted within 30 days of submitting your request, please e-mail Ella Weber at ella_weber@fws.gov.

What types of field trips are available?

We currently provide ranger-led field trips focused on the following areas of emphasis:

Barrier Islands - This program can be made for those focusing on geology vs. biology. Geography: Discover how Plum Island was formed 15,000 years ago and how it is forever changing. We will discuss and visit a Drumlin on the refuge and talk about how they are formed. We will also take a look at sand up close and personal using microscopes. Biology: Learn about and visit the different habitats that make up a barrier island and the wildlife that call them home.

Migration - (Spring or Fall) Learn all about why animals migrate, who migrates through Parker River, where they migrate to and the habitats they use. Focus is on migrating shorebirds and song birds. Monarch Butterfly migration can be incorporated but best in fall.

Piping Plovers - (Spring and Summer) Learn all about Piping Plovers that nest on Plum Island. This includes their migration, habitat, nesting behavior, and challenges they must overcome to thrive.

Climate Change - Learn about climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
, the effects it has on Parker River, and how biologists are managing these changes.

Pollinators - (Spring and Summer) Discover the many different pollinators of New England and the environments they need to thrive.

Beach Discovery - Learn about how harsh the seashore environment can be and how different animals are able to call this place home. Includes a scavenger hunt for beach creatures.

Saltmarsh Ecosystems and Monitoring - Learn about the importance of saltmarshes and the challenges they face today. Discover how the refuge is helping to fix the degrading Great Marsh and ways we monitor its con

dition. Students may participate in a hands-on experience conducting monitoring practices.

Sand Dunes - Learn about Sand Dune systems and their importance for protecting the shore.

Fur and Feathers - Learn about our local wildlife and how to identify their tracks. Discover how biologists monitor and study different species.

Ecosystem Services (In class) - Learn all about how our ecosystems are taking care of themselves and us.

Restoration (In class) - Learn all about restoration and how different restoration practices help improve our ecosystems.

Is there a cost for field trips?

No, formal educational groups including homeschool groups, are provided free access to the refuge. This inlcudes both self-guided and ranger-led tours. However, groups pursuing a self-guided opportunity must request a special use permit from the refuge to receive a fee waiver. Please reach out to Ella Weber at ella_weber@fws.gov to obtain a special use permit.

Please note: we cannot provide field trip opportunities for organizations operating on a for-profit basis. If participants pay a program free or tuition specific to the individual class, we are unable to provide free field trips or fee waivers at this time. Colleges and universities that assess a general tuition fee on a semester or term basis are exempt from this regulation.

What is special about fourth graders?

Fourth graders are eligible to receive a special 'Every Kid Outdoors' pass that provides free entry for the child and their family or guests into any Department of Interior property. Students must participate in a qualifying on-refuge or in-classroom activity, and submit proof of participation in order to receive their free pass.