Assateague holds youth programs

Maryland Department of Natural Resources State Forest and Park Service and Maryland Conservation Corps are offering the following youth group programs at Assateague State Park this summer.

Youth group members can to discover the ecology of a salt marsh and barrier island and the abundance of creatures that inhabit them. Programs last approximately one hour and can be adapted to meet a variety of age ranges. A service charge of $40 per program (for groups up to 30 participants, and an additional $1 per participant after 30) will cover costs of materials and supplies and will support Interpretive Programs at Assateague State Park.

E-mail Angela Baldwin at or call (410) 641-2120, ext. 20 for more information or to schedule a youth group program.

• Beach Scavenger Hunt: Explore the beach at Assateague in search of its natural treasures. Using a “Common Shells and Artifacts Discovery Guide,” participants are challenged to find examples of shells and artifacts pictured, then return to a sharing circle to learn about and share their finds. Then venture to the Nature Center to meet some of the live animals who create these amazing shells as part of their bodies.

• Biological Beach Combing: Similar to the Beach Scavenger Hunt, but with a twist. Older age groups will be given a list of clues to describe common shells and artifacts found on the beach. The challenge is to solve the clues, then find an example along the beach. A sharing circle is used to learn about and share their finds. Then venture to the Nature Center to meet some of the live animals that create these amazing shells as part of their bodies.

• Saltmarsh Exploration: Not afraid of getting muddy? Come discover the other side of Assateague Island. Participants will explore the complexities of a saltmarsh, one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Participants will use seining and clamming equipment to collect mollusks and small fish and shrimp for observation and identification. (For this activity, participants will wade into the saltmarsh, so it is recommended to wear old clothes/bathing suits and closed toe shoes are required.)

• Killer Trash: How about a coastal cleanup? Not just about picking up trash, this lesson teaches participants specifically about marine debris, how long it takes common trash items to decompose, and its danger to seabirds, fish, and marine mammals. Armed with this information, a data collection sheet, and some hefty bags, participants comb the beach and collect debris, tallying their finds for the Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Data Cards. Earn volunteer hours and help clean the beach at Assateague at the same time.

• Scales and Tales: By presenting live animals, this program emphasizes human interaction with nature and wildlife and encourages participants to practice responsible stewardship in parks and nature everywhere. Live birds of prey such as owls, hawks, and vultures, as well as reptiles will be used to introduce participants to native species of Maryland, their habitat, diet, and unique adaptations for survival.

This program is offered through the Maryland Park Service Scales and Tales program and has a separate service charge. Funds collected are used to support the care, feeding, and maintenance of the non-releasable captive birds of prey and rehabilitated animals housed at Pocomoke River State Park. Call for more details.

• Size Shapes the Beach: Participants will learn about sand sizes, shapes, and how they are formed from erosion of rock and shell over thousands of years. Participants will also look at how waves shape the beach and participants will create a wave model of their own. There will be a craft activity making sand art designs created from sand found on Assateague’s beach (participants will bring a jar/bottle).

• Wetlands and Water Quality: Between Assateague Island and the mainland is the Sinepuxent Bay. Learn about the role of wetlands in the costal bays, what kinds of life the bays contain, and the special qualities of this shallow estuary. Participants will use scientific monitoring equipment to collect data about the health of the bay. Participants will use “wetland in a pan” models to demonstrate and analyze wetland function.