Tuesday, March 18, 2014

South Carolina Field Trips: How to Lead Nature Walks

Barrier Island Eco Tours
50 41st Avenue
Isle of Palms, SC 29451

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"A special thanks to Shane Ziegler of Barrier Island Eco Tours, Isle of Palms, for sharing his invaluable insights and vast knowledge about the Lowcountry, its wildlife and ecosystem. And the tours are fabulous!"

-Mary Alice Monroe, Author of The Beach House

Barrier Island Ecotours is hands down worth a trip to Charleston to experience. The sights of the salt marsh and all it has to offer is worth every penny. Where else can you experience up close and personally all the marine and terrestrial wildlife the estuaries and capers island has to offer? From dolphins, crabs, deer, allligators, abundant fish, you will have a blast being entertained by the outdoors. Every trip is a surprise because you don't know what you will encounter. If you want peace and relaxation at the same time of excitement these are the trips for you and your family and friends of any ages. Ask the naturalists and they will tell you the hot spots of where to go and what trips are best suited for your group.

-Lee Sparwasser

As Charleston locals, my family has the incredible opportunity to go on a nature tour with Barrier Island Ecotours at least once a summer and often times, more! With their many options like crabbing trips, dolphin excursions, sunset cruises, etc., we always have a great time and it's never the same trip twice. The captains handle the boats with precision, and the naturalists have an incredible amount of knowledge and keep everyone entertained and laughing. And then there's the fishing charters! Our daughter LOVES fishing with Mr. Shane, and every time we've been out, she's caught enough fish to make her ask almost every day when we can go again. I highly recommend Barrier Island Ecotours for visitors and locals alike...

- Michael Schumpert

How to Lead Nature Walks

So your team picked you to be the leader on a simple (or high-level) nature walk and you have no idea what to do. I mean, you may know the trail or the general area but what does it need to give your group the nature walk they will never forget?

1.    It helps to read up on the plants and animals that can be found locally along the trail. Everybody loves it when you can identify plants and animals just by looking.

2.    Take a hike on the trail prior to the trip and notice any unusual things in the area. Are there things present along the trail that might interest your group?

3.    Prior to the trip, check your group and assess their physical limitations. You might need to change some parts of the hike to accommodate different people.

4.    Before the walk, take time to introduce yourself to your group. Hand out maps and relevant handouts to your group. Answer all relevant questions from your group regarding the hike. This is also a good time to point out comfort facilities and to suggest rest stops before you head off to your hike.

5.    Take time to introduce members of the group to each other. This way, they will feel more comfortable with each other.

6.    Ask your group what they would be more interested in viewing. Tailor your hike to their interests. If they are geared towards plants then be more specific in pointing out the flora in the area.
1.    During the tour, don’t just “talk” to people. Ask questions and let them ask questions back. Let them engage and do not just passively guide them throughout the hike.

2.    Don’t shy away from doing demonstrations during the hike. Always make sure you have their full attention every demonstration.

3.    Always check your group and be wary of stragglers. The occasional head count will do wonders here.

4.     Focus on the interests of kids if you have them in your group. They will be the ones more interested in the sights during the hike.

5.    Leave No Trace. Teach your group the basic rule: Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.  

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 will be spent on the boat exploring the tidal creeks of the salt marsh. Depending on the grade level of the group, different topics will be 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. Common catches include sponges, sea whip, brittle stars, mud crabs, blue crabs, stone crabs, peppermint shrimp, decorator crabs, goby fish, toad fish, and an occasional octopus or horseshoe crab.

The second part of the trip will be spent on the beach at Capers Island State Heritage Preserve. With over 2000 acres, Capers Island is a pristine barrier island which was bought by South Carolina in 1975 for the purpose of preserving it in its natural state.

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.     

                                 Learn More about our South Carolina Field Trips Here

Contact Information

Barrier Island Eco-Tours
50 41st Avenue
Isle of Palms, SC 29451


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