Educational student travel is an excellent way to encourage young people to explore the natural world around them. As issues of environmental preservation and conservation become more visible on the world stage, environmental educational field trips and student travel tours have started to focus on flora, fauna, wildlife, ocean ecosystems, conservation and preservation. In the state of Virginia, not far from Washington D.C., adventure eco tours can be planned to a variety of unforgettable regions off the coast, where people of all ages can learn about the power and wonder of nature.
Educational Group Travel to Assateague Island & Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
On Assateague Island visitors will find sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Ranger guided programs make exploring the island simple and fun. Assateague Island National Seashore was created to preserve the natural ecosystem of the Mid-Atlantic coast and encompasses over 48,000 acres of water and land in Virginia and Maryland.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 300 species of birds, wildlife and plants. The legendary wild horses and uniqueness of the barrier island provide endless opportunities for natural heritage and environmental education for all ages.
Student Travel on the Open Sea: Whale Watching and Dolphin Tours
Between the winter months of December and March, humpback whales migrate near the coast of Virginia near Virginia Beach. These ocean mammals are most famous for their large size, visible movements and an advanced form of communication-the whale song. Fin whales, the second largest animal on Earth, also migrate near Virginia Beach and are known for their speed. Educational, group whale watching trips can be organized through private companies and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
Students can watch other marine life, including birds, in their natural habitat and view local historic landmarks such as the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Bottlenose dolphins also live along the Virginia Beach coast and are visible between May and October each year. These amazing creatures jump, play and love attention from onlookers. Dolphin cruises can be booked for small and large student tours.
Experience the Magic of Science: Plan and Educational Tour of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is one of the best locations for an environmental, educational field trip. Students and teachers will discover over 300 hands-on exhibits, a nature trail, an outdoor aviary and marshlands. Visitors can also enjoy the 3D IMAX Theater, which features a movie screen 6 stories tall and eight stories wide.
The Bay and Ocean Pavilion takes visitors on a journey through the waters of Virginia and introduces students to native aquatic animals and plants. The Marsh Pavilion is home to snakes, otters and more. The nature trail crosses the marsh and woods. Educational tours of the 30-foot observation tower will guarantee student attention.
Eco Educational Student Tours at the Virginia Living Museum
The Virginia Living Museum is dedicated to making Virginia’s natural heritage come to life. Museum exhibits tell the stories of the animals, plants, marine life and land from the Virginia Mountains to the Coastal Plain. Galleries and exhibits include:
–Virginia’s Piedmont and Mountains Gallery
–James River Exhibit
–Virginia’s World of Darkness gallery
–Virginia’s Underground Gallery
–Appalachian Mountain Cover and Cypress Swamp
–Coastal Plain Aviary
–The Butterfly Garden
Many changing exhibits are also shown annually at the museum.
Adventure Eco Tours: Discover Animals from Abroad at the Virginia Zoo
According to the Virginia Zoo web site there are nearly 400 animals living on the premises including:
–Grants or Plains Zebra
–Red River Hog
The Virginia Zoological Park helps visitors learn about the world’s flora and fauna and is dedicated to excellent treatment of the animals that live there. Education, research and conservation are some of the Virginia Zoo’s top priorities.
Student tours of the Virginia Zoo will also explain the importance of wildlife rehabilitation and the preservation of natural resources. School Discovery Programs are also available and were created to assist teachers. Informal science education programs motivate students through live animal presentations, wildlife adventure activities and even Virginia Zoo overnight stays. The Zoo is often seeing reliable volunteers for help with educational programs and special events.
Taking a student group on an eco-tour of Virginia can occur in one of two ways. The tour can be totally focused on ecological studies and issues and include the above-mentioned sites. Or an eco-tour may include a two or three day visit to Washington D.C. Here students can learn about democracy, visit the major historic sites, and partake in a cultural event, in addition to visiting an eco-tour destination.