Coastal Ecosystems Field Course for Teachers

June 23-26, 2025
VIMS Eastern Shore Lab
Wachapreague, VA

Our next ESL field course is scheduled for June 23-26, 2025. Applications will open in January 2025.

Audience |

Requirements |

Logistics |

Sample Agenda |



VIMS Educators have been leading classroom science teachers in explorations of the diverse habitats of Virginia's Eastern Shore and its barrier islands since 2001. The home base for these learning adventures is the VIMS Eastern Shore Lab, an active coastal research facility in Wachapreague, Virginia. 

The objectives of the VIMS Coastal Ecosystems Field Course are to:
  • Enrich teachers' understanding of coastal and estuarine science content
  • Enhance teachers' skills and confidence in planning and conducting marine science activities
  • Prepare teachers to successfully integrate coastal and estuarine content into their curricula
  • Introduce teachers to research-based lesson materials as tools for teaching science 
  • Promote discussion and development of additional applications of lessons

Selected participants will: 
Receive expert instruction in several Virginia SOL-relevant content areas 
marine biology, chemistry, physics, earth and ocean sciences, coastal change, technology 

Experience using both high-tech and low-tech sampling methods 
seine, otter trawl, YSI, refractometer, hydrometer, Secchi disk, Van Dorn bottle, transects, test kits 
Be introduced to teaching resources for both field and classroom use 
MWEE, Estuaries 101, VA SEA, BRIDGE, research-based activities, and much more! 

Investigate habitats on both the ocean side and bay side of the Eastern Shore  
tidal creeks, mudflats, barrier islands, sandy beaches, seagrass beds

Participants will also have free time to explore the charming coastal community of Wachapreague, the Little City by the Sea, which includes a successful working waterfront.

Selected participants are expected to: 
  • Fully participate in the 4-day/3-night residential program. Participants traveling significant distances can choose to arrive the evening before (Sunday, June 25).
  • Conduct and assess two workshop activities with their students the following year 
  • Complete two surveys regarding the implementation of those activities with students 
  • Provide constructive feedback on the lesson plans and activities 

This course is designed for Virginia classroom teachers who: 
  • Teach middle and/or high school science 
  • Have a basic understanding of coastal biology and ecology 
  • Enjoy (or are willing to endure) early mornings and long hours in the field under the typical summer weather and insect conditions of coastal Virginia 
  • Can commit to maintaining communication throughout the school year for the purposes of collegial sharing and course evaluation 
  • Are comfortable using basic computer and Internet-based applications 

This sample agenda is meant to provide a basic outline for the course. It is subject to change.

Lodging at the Eastern Shore Lab's dormitory is included for all participants. Built in 2022, the building is handicapped accessible and participants share bedrooms in groups of four (two bunks per room). The dorm also includes a large kitchen and dining area, a screened porch, and a picnic area with gas grills. Free WiFi is available for participants throughout the ESL campus including the dorm.

If you prefer more private lodging, hotel accommodations are also available (at the participant's expense) approximately 20 minutes from the Lab.

There is no cost for this program thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation. This course is a collaborative project between VIMS Marine Advisory Program, VIMS Ecosystem Health Science, and Virginia Sea Grant.

If you have questions not answered by this page, please contact Lisa Lawrence or Celia Cackowski at the VIMS Marine Advisory Program.