Educational Programs

Environmental Education

The Meigs Point Nature Center (MPNC) at Hammonassett Beach State Park is operated under the direction and cooperation of the CT DEEP and Friends of Hammonasset (FOH). The MPNC is open year round for class visits and is completely handicapped accessible for all student inclusion. Staff from the center are available to visit schools throughout the school year.

The classes and programs offered link with the CT state curriculum, enhancing and enriching science education through “hands on” experiences. Our programs and classes in outdoor and environmental education are easily adaptable and can be customized for your grade level and needs. The MPNC programs can also be adapted to support scout badge work and for lectures/programs for senior citizens and other civic groups. New programs are continually developed, including water quality (fresh & marine), Native American experiences (story telling, games, and ethnobotany), and oceanography.

Please call the Nature Center for more information or to book a program:

Most classes run from 30 to 90 minutes. We ask a nominal $5.00 per student.

An introduction to snakes and turtles in a very comfortable way. Dispels myths and helps children to understand and not fear these unique animals. (School or Meigs)

A Wildlife program that helps younger children learn basic animal signs and solve the mystery of “What Happened Here?” Create your own story. (School or Meigs)

Using live animals, students learn the reasons for camouflage and how predators overcome it. (School or Meigs)

Animal Olympics. Compete against animals in long jump, run, throw and other events. This program can be adjusted for any animal group – reptiles, fish, insects, birds, etc. (School or Meigs)

Hear the amazing life histories of the whelk, sea star, oyster, periwinkle, and more! Then visit the Meigs Point Nature Center Touch Tank and get up close and personal with live specimens of Long Island Sound’s most common invertebrates. (School or Touch tank at Meigs only)

Nature ID and quiz game show. Play a game where you identify wildlife and answer nature trivia. This game is fun, informative, and it’s a great team – building habitats. This program can be customized toone or several animal groups. (School or Meigs)

Learn about the special adaptations of local wildlife that allow them to be so successful in their respective habitats. This program can be customized to one or several animal groups (School or Meigs)

The focus is on special adaptations of birds – beaks, feet, feathers, wings, etc. Many CT birds are in trouble. Learn why. You may also include nests and nest building. This program can be customized to your grade level. (School or Meigs)

Introduced plants and animals from around the world have invaded CT and Long Island Sound. Next to habitat destruction and loss, introduced species may be our biggest ecological problem. Meet them and learn why some are so successful and problematic in their new land and possible solutions. An outdoor hike is included to see firsthand what happens when they are allowed to grow with no natural controls. (School or Meigs)

Experience traditional story telling and engage in games played long ago. Your class can be divided into 3 sections and rotate through 3 different activities. (School or Meigs)

Learn the ways Native people use plants for food, medicine and technology. Ranger Russ can bring common plants and/or take you on a walk on your own school grounds. Students will see what common plants were used for toothbrushes, stomachaches, tool making, healing wounds, and food. (School or Meigs)

Learn to “read” the signs they leave for us. Who’s been there and what were they doing. Make your own track field guide. (School or Meigs)

Ranger Russ will bring a variety of inter-tidal invertebrates to your classroom for an up close and personal introduction to crabs, sea stars, snails and more. Learn their fascinating stories. This is a perfect introduction for a class before visiting the Nature Center or it can stand alone for classes studying marine life in the classroom. (School or Meigs)

Owl pellets will be used to teach food webs, ecosystems, anatomy, and writing (every pellet tells a story). Students, in groups of 3 or 4, act as detectives and fine surgeons, using forceps and probes in their exploration of pelletized“victims”. (School or Meigs)

Learn the 3 main color groups and why seaweeds, marine algae, are important in the ocean and our daily lives. They are found in food, medicine, and technology. Try “Blanc Mange” pudding. Learn how to use a simple key and make a pressed specimen to bring home.
(School or Meigs)

Students rotate through the 3 ecosystems– Rocky Shore, Sandy Beach, and Salt Marsh for approximately 30 minutes each. (Meigs only)

Nature ID and quiz game show. Play a game where you identify wildlife and answer nature trivia. This game is fun, informative, and it’s a great team – building exercise. (School or Meigs)

Meet the snakes of CT. Learn what is special about each of CT’s 14 species of snakes, including habitats and natural history. Live snakes of course! (School or Meigs)

What are food webs and why are they so important? Learn what animals eat and who eats them. Find out why “pests” like mosquitoes are as important as “cute” animals like chipmunks. (School or Meigs)

Using live amphibians, children will learn what makes them an amphibian and what makes them cool and unique. To end the program the children will vote for their favorite species, thus remembering all of the new facts learned.

Look for crabs and other inhabitants of the Rocky Shore, while learning about the adaptations that make them better suited to live in this harsh environment. Participants will also see up-close how invasive species have altered our coastline.

Experience beach combing as participants search for signs of life from Long Island Sound. Beach seining will also be exhibited and the aquatic life, seaweed, and shells found will be discussed.

The salt marsh is an extremely important and unique environment. Participants will learn why the salt marsh is protected and how it benefits us. The four major functions will be discussed and participants will have the rare opportunity to enter a salt marsh and feel it’s sponge like effect.

Learn how the Native Americans told their stories. Listen to traditional stories and learn the symbols used to pass down these stories through the generations.

Collect supplies needed to create your own game. Enjoy games traditionally played by Native American children. Learn the lessons they learned by playing these games.

Collect flowers and berries to make your own paint and enjoy traditional Native American crafts.

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