Education and Outreach

The Reserve’s education sector strives to cultivate awareness, knowledge, and appreciation for Narragansett Bay’s natural resources through a variety of place-based experiences for all ages. We work with partners to offer high quality and unique education programs ranging from K-12 field trips to multi-day professional development workshops for educators. The public can enjoy guided tours of the Reserve while learning about local research, impacts of climate change and land stewardship projects.

For any education-related questions, please contact Maureen Dewire, Education Coordinator at 401.683.1478 or via email at

Scouts, Summer Camps, and Groups

The Reserve is a wonderfully unique place to bring your homeschool class, scouts, after-school environmental clubs, hikers, or any other outdoor-oriented group. Smaller groups (under 12 individuals) may consider an overnight adventure by staying at the Reserve’s Limulus Lodge. Groups interested in stewardship projects can help with invasive species removal or shoreline cleanup projects while learning about the impacts these things have on our native habitats.

Contact Maureen for more information on program activity options, which vary seasonally. To see a list of possible program topics, scroll down to the ‘For Educators’ section and click on ‘Possible Topics of Study’. We are also happy to cater to your groups’ interest and needs!

For Educators

Take your students out of the classroom and immerse them in a day of inquiry-based learning at local salt marshes and rocky shorelines in the heart of Narragansett Bay. Whether you work with elementary or college students, homeschooled students or in an informal setting, there are unique experiences awaiting every class or group at the Reserve. Our programs provide students the opportunity to have a hands-on, place-based experience highlighting local and relevant science issues, and can be tailored to fit the needs of your individual group. Most programs are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Student programs are offered free of charge. Financial assistance may be available to offset cost of transportation.

For more information on what to expect from a typical field trip to the Reserve, click here.

The Reserve encompasses a number of habitats including rocky shoreline, open water, salt marsh, coastal meadow and deciduous forest. Program topics and activities can cover a wide range of plants, animals, research methods and current environmental topics. We are happy to tailor the program to meet the individual needs of each group.

  • Estuaries
  • Invasive Species
  • Plants & Animals of the Bay
  • Climate Change Impacts on Estuaries and Salt Marshes
  • Water Quality
  • Birds
  • Harbor Seals (seasonal)
  • Habitat Management and Stewardship
  • Scientific sampling methods
  • Ecosystems & Ecology: Salt Marsh • Coastal Scrub • Rocky Intertidal Beach • Forests
  • Measuring water quality parameters at various locations to study changes in estuarine habitats
  • Sampling fish abundance and diversity using seine nets and fish traps
  • Identifying and quantifying vegetation using scientific methods and instruments
  • Identifying and quantifying invasive species
  • Using field guides and binoculars to observe and identify plants and animals in different habitats.
  • Studying birds and how they are adapted for their particular habitat

The ferry departs Bristol at 9:45 AM for a 10:15 AM arrival on Prudence Island. The morning is spent exploring the many habitats of the Reserve’s southern property and
includes a stop at the Learning Center to view exhibits and use the restroom. Lunch can be at the beach, under the shade of a grand oak tree, or in our classroom. The
afternoon will consist of field experiences that meet your education needs and typically include hands-on, inquiry-based activities to enhance student learning. Our educators are happy to tailor the activities to meet the individual needs of the teachers and students.

The afternoon departure from Prudence can be at 2:30 PM or 4:15 PM, depending on the season and day of the week. Please note that you need to bring all food and drinks with you. In addition to the abundant natural resources within the Reserve, Prudence Island is rich in history, dating back to the 1600s when Native Americans and tenant farmers were the only island residents. Groups interested in history have the option of integrating this aspect into their program, as time allows. 

The Reserve is able to transport 13 individuals in our passenger van; larger groups will need to bring additional vehicles to the island to accommodate more people. Vehicle reservations for the ferry need to be made in advance and costs are not covered by the Reserve. Please visit the Prudence & Bay Islands Transport website for more information


The Reserve offers professional development workshops for pre-service, in-service and informal educators that focus on estuaries and coastal issues, called Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE). TOTE workshops are multi-day and incorporate a blend of indoor and outdoor hands-on experiences that can be brought back to the classroom with guest presentations by local scientists. We also offer single-day Project WET and WILD workshops throughout the year for all educators. 

Save the Date! Are you an upper elementary, middle or high school science teacher? Consider joining us for this year’s Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) workshop, which will be held July 22-July 25,2024.

Guided Programs

We offer a variety of programs that aim to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of Narragansett Bay. Programs are offered throughout the year on a variety of topics depending on the season. In the winter, join us as we view harbor seals lounging on the rocks just off the south end of the island. The spring season is the perfect time of year to learn about the many birds species that migrate to our region and depend on places like the Reserve to rest, refuel and breed. Or spend a crisp fall day hiking the miles of trails that weave through a variety of beautiful habitats. Each program is infused with the natural and cultural history of the island as well as updates on current research being conducted by Reserve staff.