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Goal: Educate current and future decision-makers and stewards to become informed and effective partners in protecting and restoring coastal resources.

Our education work reaches into homes, schoolyards, estuaries, board rooms and commissioners’ meetings by providing hands-on, tangible learning experiences for people of all ages and walks of life. The support of coastal champions allows us to connect with everyone for the good of our coast. People who understand the coast are best able to take care of it.

We educate thousands of adults and their families each year through volunteer opportunities with our restoration projects, field trips, conferences, workshops and community outings. We also provide education programs and events through the new Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center in Wrightsville Beach.

Ongoing Projects  


Exploring the Coast as an 8th Grader

Back in the Classrooms in Manteo
High School Students Lend a Helping Hand

Touch Tank Tuesdays

Teachers Are Students Too Students Learn to Dissect a Squid

How We Work:

We provide education by:

  • Getting everybody outside. When people get their hands wet, their feet muddy, when they see a heron or a dolphin or a ghost crab, they get it. Experiential learning works, so that’s what we do.
  • Bringing peers together for professional education. The best people to talk to transportation engineers about restoration and protection are…other transportation engineers who are doing it. Farmers, developers, fishermen, contractors--the value of peer education is immense. It works quickly and effectively.
  • Building hands-on learning into school study. Teachers have a lot on their plates. They need to prepare students for testing and don’t have spare time for many extras. Our education programs align with formal public education standards adopted by the NC Department of Public Instruction. They serve as opportunities for enriched learning and reinforcement of crucial lessons. We also provide field trip funding to augment strapped school budgets and get kids to the coast.
  • Providing economically (and environmentally) valuable job skills. We work with expert engineers, landscape architects, and contractors to provide training in low impact development and wetland restoration to at-risk youth and others, training that translates into green jobs in a competitive market.

  • Tapping into people’s innate wisdom and common sense. We bring commercial fishermen into classrooms and cocktail parties to explain that indeed, no wetlands really would mean no seafood. We talk to farmers about the best ways to keep runoff out of our sounds and rivers and help fight climate change in their fields. We recognize and value the expertise of so many people; together we can keep our coast one of the most beautiful and productive on the planet.


This list highlights just a few of the things that our supporters have made possible:
  • Educated over 12,000 people last year alone about water quality, habitat and their crucial importance to the health and economy of the coast.
  • Organized a major Low-impact Development summit attended by nearly 300 elected officials, local, state and federal agency personnel, engineers, developers and scientists. EPA Non-Point Source Chief Don Waye had this to say about the summit:
“THANK YOU for inviting me to the summit. All of the presentations were excellent and we all learned from each other and made/strengthened great connections. I honestly don’t know what more you could ask for in a conference. It is clear you are a change agent in NC. My hat is off to you and the NC Coast Federation.
  • Brought at-risk youth to the coast for the first time and showed them what is possible. The federation has joined with the Elizabeth City Community Development Corporation  to provide at-risk and adjudicated young people with a view of the coast and the training necessary for jobs/careers possible in green infrastructure.
  • Told (and continue to tell) the environmental stories that no longer get covered in the media. The federation, recognizing the decline in traditional media coverage of issues affecting the coast, started our own daily news service, the Coastal Review Online. Our bona fides: We are a member of the North Carolina Press Association. We hire professional reporters to cover issues that matter to the well-being of the coast.
  • Provided a map to the coastal roads less traveled. Each year, we publish 100,000 copies of Our Coast, a travel guide with a conscience. It takes people off the typical tourist map, into the heart of the real North Carolina coast. It also gives some delicious recipes for local seafood and tells you where to get it.

You can see our education resources and focus areas on this projects map.

In keeping with our philosophy of showing as well as telling, we have multiple living classrooms where students and community members can experience firsthand the wonder of the coast and what’s being done to protect it, by people just like them.
If you’d like to support our education work, please become a member or donate today. Thank you.