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NMEA 2017 Conference - Field Trips

NMEA 2017 Field Trips- Thursday, June 29th

Be sure to signup for a field trip during registration!

The NMEA 2017 Conference has a variety of field trip offerings. For more information, click the tabs below or email All field trips take place on Thursday, June 29th.

“The Edge of America”: Folly Island Birding Jaunt and Coastline Study

Guides: Keith McCullough, Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and Leslie Reynolds Sautter, College of Charleston
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Cost: $25
Age restrictions: 12 years old and up
Recommended equipment: Binoculars, a filled water bottle, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and weather appropriate clothing
Transportation: Not provided

Folly Island, commonly known as “The Edge of America”, is home to Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve – a well-known, top birding hotspot in South Carolina. At least 261 species have been documented at the former Coast Guard station located at the northeast end of the island. Join Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission staff and focus on the shorebirds and seabirds that breed in the area such as Wilson’s Plover, Least Tern, and American Oystercatcher.

Folly Island is known for much more than birding, though. In addition to spotting Terns and Oystercatchers, participants will be treated with information about how coastal process impact this ecosystem. Dr. Leslie Sautter will share her experiences and insights about the dynamic landscapes of South Carolina’s barrier islands.

After the trip, you’ll be free to explore other parts of Folly Island on your own: Take photos of the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, enjoy a relaxing day on the beach, taste some of the local fare, and check out some of the shops in the quaint downtown area. To allow you the most flexibility in exploring all Folly Island has to offer, transportation will not be provided. However, we will assist those who register with carpooling options and other modes of transportation to the Folly Island located just a few miles away from the hotel.

ACE Basin Adventure

Guides: Carolina Costal Discovery Education Staff, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $60
Age restrictions: 10 years old and up
Recommended equipment: Binoculars, a filled water bottle, comfortable walking shoes (close-toed), bug spray, sunscreen, and weather appropriate clothing
Transportation: Included

By land and by water, this excursion will highlight historical elements and the diverse ecosystems of the pristine and largely undeveloped ACE (Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto) Basin! From loggerhead sea turtles to Native Americans, the ACE Basin has served as a home for both humans and wildlife for thousands of years. You will travel to the Edisto Interpretive Center where you will experience the ACE Basin aboard the SC Department of Natural Resources’ E/V Discovery! During this part of the trip, you will immerse yourself in the beauty of the ACE Basin as you explore one of the largest estuarine ecosystems on the east coast and discover what is living both above and beneath the water. Your tour also includes a guided trip through the 3,363 acre Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Edisto Island, where you pass through upland pine forest, salt marshes, impoundments, and maritime forest habitats and learn about remnants of plantation buildings and past and present wildlife conservation efforts. Transportation to and from the ACE Basin, lunch, snacks, and drinks will be provided. The SCDNR is providing the boat trip at no cost to registrants.

It’s (Marine) Science!

Guides: Pete Meier (Grice Marine Lab, College of Charleston), Lauton Sutley (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources), Steve Morton (NOAA's Hollings Marine Laboratory)
Time: 8: 30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Cost: $25
Age restrictions: 12 years old
Recommended equipment: Driver's License (required), comfortable walking shoes (close-toed), bug spray, sunscreen and weather appropriate clothing
Transportation: Not Included

Head across the Charleston Harbor to Fort Johnson – a place where both history and science merge! You’ll go behind the scenes at the Marine Resources Research Institute where SC Department of Natural Resources marine biologists study everything from algae to sea turtles and sharks! Get up close and personal during a tour of the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab as you experience their touch tank, take a peek a microscopic flora and fauna, and learn about collaborative projects conducted by faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. Round out your experience with a tour of NOAA’s Hollings Marine Lab where you’ll learn about research projects related to climate change, human health and the environment, and marine animal health assessments. After the tours, you’ll have a chance to explore other areas of Fort Johnson: Visit the location where the first shot of the Civil War was fired onto Fort Sumter, observe historical structures, and enjoy a self-guided walk through the maritime forest that parallels the Charleston Harbor. To keep your cost at a minimum, transportation will not be provided; however, we will assist those who register with carpooling options and other modes of transportation.

Shark Tooth Diving Excursion


Guides: Charleston SCUBA
Time: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $250
Age restrictions: 18 years old
Recommended equipment: You must have a Hobby Diver's License from South Carolina to collect. Bring proof of diver certification.
Transportation: Included

The Cooper and Wando rivers are well known for their plantation sites and old trade routes, which provide the avid artifact hunter with pottery, antique bottles, fossilized shark teeth and bones. Join Charleston SCUBA aboard the skiff Trinity on your adventure as you scour the rivers for artifacts fossils. Visibility is often from 2-6ft and experienced divers only are recommended to register (must be comfortable "solo diving" and have advanced open water certification or a log to prove your experience). Be sure to sign up soon as space is limited. Your trip includes transportation to and from the hotel, lunch, snacks, water, and all SCUBA gear.

Kayak Historic Shem Creek

Guides: Coastal Expeditions
Time: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $100
Age restrictions: 12 years old
Recommended equipment: Binoculars, a filled water bottle, comfortable walking shoes (close-toed), weather appropriate clothing, sunglasses, and camera
Transportation: Included

For the watersport enthusiast! Hop on board with Coastal Expedition’s experienced staff for a boat tour of Charleston Harbor as you make your way to Shem Creek. Shem Creek is the gateway to Charleston Harbor and is adjacent to the Crab Bank Island bird sanctuary – an excellent place to learn about both human and natural history! Once you arrive at Shem Creek, you will enjoy a 3-hour guided kayak tour. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of Shem Creek’s famous waterfront dining establishments before returning to the hotel. All gear is included in your registration, and transportation will be provided to and from Shem Creek by boat from Brittlebank Park (located directly across from the hotel).

Capers Island Exploration and Lowcountry Boil

Guides: Barrier Island Ecotours
Time: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $100
Age restrictions: None
Recommended equipment: Binoculars, a filled water bottle, comfortable walking shoes (close-toed), bug spray, sunscreen, weather appropriate clothing, sunglasses, camera
Transportation: Included

Don’t miss this chance to explore one of Charleston’s pristine, undeveloped barrier islands! Hop aboard with the staff of Barrier Island EcoTours for this guided field trip to Capers Island -- a gorgeous Heritage Trust Preserve located 15 miles north of Charleston and only accessible by boat. As part of the tour, local naturalists will highlight some of Capers Island’s most fascinating ecological and historical features: 3-mile boneyard beach, a diverse array of wildlife (birds, alligators, deer, and others), and Native American shell middens. After the tour, you will have time to explore the beach on your own and enjoy a beachfront cookout of the famous Charleston dish -- Lowcountry Boil (additional lunch options will be available for non-seafood eaters and vegetarians)! Trip include transportation to and from hotel, boat trip to Capers, lunch and drinks.

Gullah/Geechee Cultural Tour

Guides: Queen Quet and Victoria Smalls
Time: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $100
Age restrictions: 12 years old
Recommended equipment: Comfortable walking shoes, bug spray, sunscreen and weather appropriate clothing
Transportation: Included

Immerse yourself for a full day in the Gullah/Geechee culture as you travel to St. Helena Island in Beaufort, SC located about 2 hours south of Charleston. Once you arrive on St. Helena Island, you will experience De Gullah Root Experience Tour, which is an interactive Gullah/Geechee living history tour led by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation ( This historic tour of St. Helena Island will take you to numerous historic sites including praise houses, Penn Center, and Gullah/Geechee family compounds. This customized tour will also show the importance of the marine environment to the traditions of the Gullah/Geechee people. Cum fa jayn we and yeddi who de Gullah/Geechee be!

After a lunch featuring traditional Gullah/Geechee cuisine, the remainder of the trip will be spent exploring the Penn Center -- A National Historic District Landmark, and the location of the first school established (1862) for freed slaves. The Penn Center also was visited frequently by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where he would use the campus as a retreat for inspiration and meetings. During our time at the Penn Center, you will enjoy a presentation by Penn Center staff and a tour of the museum and other parts of the Penn Center property. Transportation, lunch, drinks, and snacks will be provided.

Take Your Taste Buds for a Stroll

Guides: Charleston Culinary Tours
Time: 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: $75
Age restrictions: 12 years old
Recommended equipment: Comfortable walking shoes - some of the walking may be on cobblestone streets, bug spray, sunscreen and weather appropriate clothing
Transportation: Not included

Bring your appetite along for this informative and delicious walking tour through Charleston’s Historic District! Charleston Culinary Tours will provide both historical and culinary highlights as you enjoy some of the Holy City’s favorite traditional cuisine! The tour includes tastings from 3-4 locally owned and operated restaurants and all non-alcoholic beverages! The trip will go rain or shine, so be sure to sign up soon as the group size stays small in order to provide you with an opportunity to interact with both your tour guide and restaurant chefs! We are unable to accommodate all dietary restrictions and if you have questions regarding the menu options, please contact E.V. Bell at


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6/25/2017 » 6/29/2017
NMEA (National Marine Educators Association) 2017 Annual Conference