Getting Wet Feet with the Assateague Adventure Academy

Three children using equipment to capture mole crabs in the surf

Capturing moles crabs in the surf for mole crab surveys

Jay Johnstone

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Next Generation Stewards
Also Promotes:
A Class Act
Maryland, Virginia
Year Accomplished:

The Assateague Adventure Academy is a pilot program partially funded through an America's Best Idea grant from the National Park Foundation. Partnering with educators from our local Worcester County School District, Education Specialist, Jay Johnstone has created a fully immersive and curriculum based program for middle school children attending summer school. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Helen Owens of Stephen Decatur Middle School also played an invaluable role in making the program successful. We believe that every student can achieve high academic and performance standards but some require additional time and diversified instructional strategies to achieve this goal. The field trips associated with this program offer that opportunity. One hundred and forty five students and teachers participated in the program. Each student received a Discovery Pack with art supplies, field guides and naturalist's equipment. The packs and equipment were used to document their discoveries and experiences while exploring Assateague and then take home to use exploring in their own back yards.  Students participated in water quality testing, marsh exploration, bay seining, and kayaking. On the ocean side of the island students did mole crab surveys and explored the beach environment. At the end of the program, participants were awarded Junior Ranger patches and certificates. The Academy experience does not end with the last summer field trip. This program extends its reach into the school year with a series of extended day activities at which Assateague staff can have additional contact with students who participated in the summer program.  By fostering both intellectual and emotional connections to the island, students have an opportunity to gain understanding and appreciation of the park at their backdoor and feel welcomed by those they see in the park service uniform.