General Information

Our school field trips are free for students – rain or shine – and schools only need to provide transportation to and from the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) and packed lunches for students. The minimum class size is 10 students and the maximum number of students in one day is 42 or less depending on your chosen activity. SYCC, as part of the FYCCN, requires a 1:10 adult to youth ratio for all land-based activities and a 1:5 adult to youth ratio for water-based activities. We provide the instructors, lessons, necessary equipment and smiles for your memorable time here.

Please email us with questions and to book your field trip experience: suncoast@myfwc.com. Hurry, spaces fill up fast!

Middle Grades (6-8):



Mangroves Metaphors (4 hours) – Via kayak, students will explore Newman’s Creek Paddling Trail and be immersed in the mangrove swamps of Tampa Bay. Topics covered will include paddling strokes, safety equipment, filing float plans and of course learning about our Tampa Bay estuary through mangrove and mudflat exploration. Students will be asked to draw comparisons between common household objects and the important functions of the mangrove habitat. Minimum time requirements for kayaking programs are 3.5 hours. Maximum number of students is 26. Multiple days per school can be scheduled to accommodate large classes.

Marine Population Dynamics (4 hours)– Students will learn about population structures in a marine environment by collecting and counting fiddler crabs, studying population changes through a game and catching fish via hook and line. Throughout the experience, the students will create and test a hypothesis to assess the gender ratio of a fiddler crab colony, then use random quadrat sampling to estimate the number of fiddler crabs living in that colony. Additionally, the game, Oh Fish, will provide students an experiential look at what happens in natural populations when resources are plentiful or lacking. Lastly, the students will fish the different habitats at the Suncoast and draw comparisons on the different sampling techniques used. Topics covered will include habitat limiting factors (food, water, shelter), carrying capacity, predator prey interactions in an aquatic ecosystem, and bias in data collection.

Inclement Weather Plan:

In the event of bad weather, the Suncoast staff will use the following activities as an alternative to the scheduled outdoor programming. Students will be put into two groups; each group will participate in one of the following activities prior to lunch and then switch activities after lunch.

Eat or Be Eaten (2 hours)– More than 90% of the seafood we eat are species that rely on habitats found in Tampa Bay as their nurseries. Students will explore and learn about some of the “creatures” that comprise the trophic levels of the Tampa Bay estuary food web and how they interact with each other. Using fish characteristics and behaviors, students will determine which fish are predators and which are prey. Do only prey fish swim in schools? Does a top predator, such as a shark, still have camouflage? The students will learn soon enough!

Wanted: Food Webs (2 hours) – After reviewing the basics of energy transfer terminology associated with food chains, students will learn that the ocean has its own variation of food webs and the complexities of the underwater world. Do energy transfers look the same? Are there more or less steps in the food web than its terrestrial counterpart? Do all animals rely on the sun? Students will demonstrate what a food web in the gulf looks like after an invasive species is introduced. If time permits, students will finish the activity by creating their own “Wanted” poster of a marine species to make humans the apex predator of their own marine food web.