Family Programs

Spring Programs
Coastal Cultivators

Coastal Cultivators is an educational opportunity for families to learn about sustainability on the coast, native plants, and coastal landscaping. Using the Outer Banks and CSI’s campus as examples, this program will explore what it means to garden and landscape with sustainability in mind and send participants home with a decorated recycled planter and a North Carolina native plant seedling to add to their own garden.

This program is intended for ages 7 and up with a parent or guardian and will be offered on  May 15 and June 13 from 3:30-5 PM. The cost to attend is $10/ child or adult.

Please contact Lauren Kerlin (252-475-5451) for more information.

Summer & Fall Programs
An Evening in the Estuary

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. 

This program is intended for ages 5 and up with a parent or guardian, and it is scheduled for the evenings of July 18, August 22, and September 19. The cost to attend will be $20/ child or adult.

Please contact Lauren Kerlin (252-475-5451) for more information.

Holiday Season Programs
Exploring Oyster Ecology

2024 dates and details forthcoming.

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.

Winter Programs
Maritime Mysteries

2025 dates and details forthcoming.

Maritime Mysteries is an educational opportunity for families with children aged 7 and older. Instructors will lead the public in a fun, interactive lesson on North Carolina’s rich maritime history and the methods used to study it. Participants will examine evidence and use investigative thinking to discover the identity of a lost vessel.

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.