Alaska Coastal Ecology


The Alaska Coastal Ecology program offers the option of a day trip or residential 2 or 3-day program acrossKachemak Bay from Homer. Grades 4-12. April-May or September-October.


The Alaska Coastal Ecology day or residential program for grades 4-12 is based out of Peterson Bay Field Station or the UAF-NOAA Kasitsna Bay Lab on the south side of Kachemak Bay. CACS naturalists lead beach and forest field trips and environmental science and education activities related to plant and animal adaptations, ecological interrelationships, and art from nature. Teaching activities are aligned with the Alaska State Science Standards and best teaching practices for effective science and environmental education.

  • Unmatched intertidal areas are within easy walking distance of both Peterson Bay Field Station and Kasitsna Bay Lab. More than 50 species of intertidal invertebrates are commonly observed during beach field trips during the extreme minus tides that occur each month in Kachemak Bay.
  • Marine live tanks and aquaria are set up and maintained after the danger of frost is over, to provide a diversity of marine invertebrates for student observation.
  • A trail system at Peterson Bay Field station provides opportunities for beach and forest hikes. Hiking is also available near Kasitsna Bay Lab. Students take part in botany, ethnobotany, and forest ecology studies and activities along forest trails that wind through the northern edge of the coastal forest. The forest currently provides a living laboratory of ecological change.
  • A prehistoric Native house site and nearby shell midden provide a glimpse of cultural history at Peterson Bay
  • A science lab room at the Peterson Bay Field Station is equipped with microscopes for in-depth study or marine invertebrates, plants, and lichens. Kasitsna Bay Lab provides an up-close glimpse at the work of marine scientists, and use of a professional wet lab and microscope lab.
  • Gravel beaches at both facilities are accessible during low tide for outdoor games.  Campfires can be built on the campuses of both Peterson Bay Field Station and Kasitsna Bay Lab.

Planning a Coastal Ecology Field Trip

Snowshoe pictures by Ruthie Aldrich 1Field trips for school groups in grades 4-12 are scheduled during April and May. Field trips may also be arranged for homeschool, charter school, or other youth groups after Memorial Day until early October.

Classes spend one to three days at the Peterson Bay Field Station or Kasitsna Bay Lab. CACS naturalists work with teachers and group leaders to plan field trip activities and to accommodate the teacher's learning objectives for the field trip.  For details on the program options, logistics, and facilities please download our planning guides below.

A minimum of 25 (students + adults) is required for trips before Memorial Day. It is more difficult to provide a quality education program around the logistics of groups larger than 35, so larger groups require additional planning time between CACS staff and the teacher and chaperones. CACS requires one adult chaperone per six students, plus teachers.

Teachers or group leaders may download curriculum materials before the field trip, including the Teacher Background Guide to the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program, and the Atlas to Marine Invertebrates that provides information on the species that students are likely to observe during beach field trips.

Teachers Guide to the Aalska Coastal Ecology Program

Download a pdf version of The Peterson Bay Field Station Teacher's Planning Guide to the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Download a pdf version of The Kasitsna Bay Lab Teacher's Planning Guide for the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Download a pdf version of the Teacher Background Guide for the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Click here to find additional teaching materials for your trip.


Boat Transportation

Students travel to their Alaska Coastal Ecology experience onboard the M/V Discovery. The Peterson Bay Field Station is approximately a 30-minute boat ride from Homer, and the ride to Kasitsna Bay Lab is about an hour long. A stop to observe the Gull Island seabird rookery is included in the field trip to the Peterson Bay Field Station when the birds are present on the island. There is an additional fee of $15 per person to include Gull Island on trips to the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory. Access to the Peterson Bay Field Station is tide dependent. While we try to schedule departure times in the early afternoon, there may be evening or morning departures scheduled.


Download the 2022 Field Trip Request Form

We will begin accepting reservations for the spring, 2022 season by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) on Thursday, October 21th, 2020, at 8:00 a.m.


Due to the demand for field trips during the limited minus tide periods in April and May, we have a "first come-first served" policy, but will try to place you during your first or second choice times. Please consider including weekend days to take advantage of extreme low tides and consider September or early October field trips. For reservations received in October, we will notify you of the dates we have reserved for you by November 5th. The boat schedule will be confirmed at a later date.

A non-refundable deposit of $300 is due on December 1st.

30% of the estimated cost of the trip is due by February 1st. 
You may contact us anytime during the school year to find out if there are still openings.

Program Fees

CACS is a non-profit organization with youth as our primary audience for environmental education. We try very hard to keep our fees reasonable for school groups. Prices include round trip boat transportation, lodging, instruction and use of microscope and touch tank labs. Prices are per participant and include both adults and students. One teacher for each class is not required to pay fees.

Program and Location Price per participant
Peterson Bay Field Station Day Trip $120
Peterson Bay Field Station One Night $135
Peterson Bay Field Station Two Nights $160
Kasitsna Bay Lab One Night* $155
Kasitsna Bay Lab Two Nights* $193

*Additional $15 per person for a stop at Gull Island



Wynn Nature Center youth programs

Knee high Naturalists prepare to go in search of snowshoe hares at Wynn

Knee-high Naturalist Program

Ages 2-4.

Knee-High Naturalists is BACK beginning Friday June 18 and continuing every Friday at 10:30. Our naturalist will provide a fun  program for you and your toddler to explore the outdoors with a special story, a short walk and a craft. Themes will change every Friday.  FREE program.

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Ages 5-8. Fridays 1-3 p.m:  June 18th-August 13th.

Get a sneak peek of the secret lives of the plants, birds, and animals that live at the Wynn Nature Center. Please dress for the weather!

Pre-registration is required: Register by clicking HERE.

$10/class or $40 for 5 sessions

All kids and staff undergo health screenings at the beginning of the program.

Trackers with Chris 


Ages 9-12. Every Thursday 1-3pm: June 17th-August 12th

Learn all about the animals that spend their time at the Wynn Nature Center! We will learn to identify these animals by the scat, tracks, and other signs they leave behind. Please dress for the weather!

Pre-registration is required: Register by clicking HERE!

$10/class or $40 for 5 sessions

All kids and staff undergo health screenings at the beginning of the program.

Yurt on the Spit Summer youth programs!


Creatures of the Dock

All Ages! Tours begin at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm daily: May 28th-September 6th

Perfect for families or people who have a short amount of time but want to see lots of sea creatures! This daily program is fun for the whole family. Guided tours of the incredible life under the dock at the Homer Harbor. 

Tour size is limited to 8 people

Pre-registration is required: Register by clicking HERE!


caleb found mussels

S.P.I.T. Kids

Ages 6-10. Monday - Wednesday - Friday:  June 6th-August 19th

9:30am - 12:00pm. Enjoy a S.neak P.eek I.nto T.hings as you explore sea creatures under the dock, search for seabirds and marine mammals, investigate the beach, learn about plants, do ocean crafts and MORE!

Pre-registration is required: Register by clicking HERE!

$10 per session or $21 for 3 sessions in one week

Kids are outside and will have their own art & nature kit to use so there are no shared items. All SPIT kids will have face coverings with them to wear when they are closer than 6 feet and all staff will wear face coverings.

Peterson Bay Field Station Discounts


Children's Rates on Nature Tours and Hikes

Trips to across the bay to Peterson Bay Field Station only $95 for kids 12 and under.

Special Group Programs for Adults & Youth


Alaska Coastal Ecology Field Camps

Ecology field camps for college, high school or other organized youth groups can be arranged during the summer. Program length ranges from two to six days with guided activities and lodging at Peterson Bay Field Station combined with guided activities at Wynn Nature Center or Kastisna Bay Lab. More info >>


Service Learning Expeditions

Service Learning Expeditions can be arranged from June - August. Groups learn about natural history and stewardship through service projects. Projects can include trail work, building projects, invasive plant management, facilities beautification, and more. Call 907-235-6667 and ask to get connected to the Program Director, Katie Gavenus - or email katieg@akcoastalstudies.org for more information

Retreats & Workshops

Group retreats can be arranged at the Peterson Bay Field Station. Enjoy a semi-remote, rustic setting to connect your group to the amazing natural surroundings and to each other. Call 907-235-6667 and ask to get connected to our Program Director, Katie Gavenus - or email katieg@akcoastalstudies.org for more information

Youth Internships


High School Internships

CACS offers a volunteer internship program for high school students who wish to gain more experience working in the fields of environmental education and environmental science. The internship combines working at the Carl Wynn Nature Center and the Homer Spit Yurt assisting with our popular Creature of the Dock Tours. Interns are also trained to be camp counselors for our summer camps for youth ages 9-15. Interns are encouraged to work on a special project of interest during their 6-week internship. Applicants must have completed one year of high school. Please email henry@akcoastalstudies.org and we'll send you an application!! Thanks


Environmental Educator and Naturalist Internships

Paid internships for students completing junior or senior year of college, or recently graduated. Positions available at Wynn Nature Center, Inspiration Ridge Preserve and the Peterson Bay Field Station. April to May and June-August. Applications due late January. Check for position openings here.

Contact Us

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© 2006 - 2022 Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, 708 Smokey Bay Way, Homer, AK 99603, (907) 235-6667
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