Family Programs

Holiday Season Programs
Exploring Oyster Ecology

Exploring Oyster Ecology is an educational opportunity for families with children aged 5 and older to learn about the Eastern Oyster and its vital role in our estuaries. Participants will get an up-close look at live oysters, investigate the organisms they interact with, and head home with a craft, too! This program will finish with time to decorate an oyster holiday ornament. Events will be offered on November 15 and December 13 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM at the Coastal Studies Institute.

These programs are open to the public with limited availability on a first-come, first-serve basis. The participation fee is $10/person.

Registration is now open and will close the day before each program. Please contact Lauren Kerlin at or 252-475-5451 with questions or for more information.

Warm Weather Programs
An Evening in the Estuary

2024 dates and details forthcoming.

Tailored to elementary and middle school-aged children and their adult(s), Evening in the Estuary will include a boat ride through the Croatan Sound to a marsh island two nautical miles from CSI’s campus. Instructors will lead the public in fun, coastal science-based activities that will have them wading the shallow waters, surveying the sandy shores, and exploring the grassy uplands. Participants of all ages will learn about estuarine biology and ecology, investigate plant and animal adaptations, seine for critters, demonstrate food webs, and more. 

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.