Approved Field Studies Programs

Please read these important details: 

  • If requesting Splash! grant funds to support an on-site or virtual field trip, please select a program (not just location) from this list.
  • Notice the counties in parenthesis next to each location. You may select a field trip program only if your school’s county is listed and the field trip location is one hour or less drive time from your school. 
  • Notice the grade levels in parenthesis next to each program. Select a field trip program that accommodates your student’s grade level(s).
  • You are responsible for contacting the field trip location/provider for additional details including the price, availability and scheduling. Contact them for prices to include on the budget portion of your grant application.
  • Classroom activities are required for all grants and help reinforce and expand freshwater concepts.
  • If you’d like to submit another field trip program for consideration, please email a thorough description of the program and how it encompasses freshwater education to the Splash! grant program manager at for her review and approval.

Archbold Biological Station (Highlands) (Grades 3–5) 

Archbold Biological Station is dedicated to sharing its knowledge and habitat with students of many ages. The Archbold Education Office can work with teachers to design an on-site field trip or virtual program for elementary students. It is the teacher’s responsibility to confirm the field trip is focused on freshwater.

Around the Bend Nature Tours (Manatee and Sarasota) 

Crab Inquiry (Grades K–3)
Students will explore a mangrove forest while gaining an understanding of estuaries and habitats. Students will also learn about the animals that call this habitat home with a hands-on storytelling activity. 

Dip Net Estuary Study (Grades 4–12)
Students will explore a local estuary by wading into the grass flats at low tide. They will discover that an estuary is a special place where freshwater mixes with saltwater, and learn what a watershed is and how the two are connected. Students will identify and classify the animals that live in the estuary, while also investigating the adjoining mangrove forest. With these activities, students will discover how humans interact and depend on the natural world.

Ecosystems Field Study (Grades 3–12) 
Simple environmental sampling with temperature, wind direction and field observations are used as a window to introduce students to ecosystems. During the field study, students will also discover more about estuarian habitats as they learn about native and exotic plants and animals, take a shoreline exploration, venture through the water cycle, or conduct water quality tests.

Low Impact Development Stormwater Management Field Study (Grades 6–12)
Students will learn how the principals of Low Impact Development positively affect a watershed while analyzing water quality. Students will also learn the distinction between native, nonnative, and nonnative invasive plants, as well as discover estuary, watershed and mangrove concepts. 

Pond Study – field study on school campus (Grades 6–12)
Students will understand the impact of human activities on water quality and the importance of protecting our watersheds through studying their school’s stormwater pond. Activities include an introduction to Low Impact Design stormwater management techniques, testing chemical water quality parameters and/or conducting a biological survey.

Bok Tower Gardens (Polk and Highlands)

Splash! Grant Freshwater Education Program (Grades 2-5; Adaption for Grades K-1 available)
Your students will explore sources of freshwater in the garden during a water walk, play a water cycle game, and dip net in the El Retiro Pond to learn about a pond ecosystem.

Brooker Creek Preserve (Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) 

Students will be led through the preserve by professional biologists and naturalists as they learn about water resources. Activities may include a wetland boardwalk hike, dip netting activity, history of the preserve and a tour of the Booker Creek Environmental Education Center.

Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center (Hillsborough and Manatee) (Grades K–12)

Camp Bayou offers youth programs to explore nature topics to help understand and appreciate Florida’s outdoor beauty and biodiversity. Activities are catered to the appropriate age and may include: water quality testing, aquatic insects, wetland walk, watershed model demonstration, water cycle activities and more. Please tell the center this is part of a Splash! school grant.

Charlotte Harbor Environmental Education Center (Charlotte)

With two locations, Alligator Creek and Cedar Point, the CHEC offers a variety of hands-on educational programs on land or in the water. 

Crystal Springs Preserve (Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Sumter) 

River Rats Water Adventure (Grades 3–5)
Students will tour the Preserve’s habitats and learn about the Hillsborough River and the Floridan Aquifer System. Students will perform a biodiversity survey using dip nets to catch and identify the invertebrates and vertebrates that live in the waters of the preserve.

Awesome Aquifers (Grades 2–5)
In this simulation program, students will create a watershed model that represents their community. Once constructed, students will determine what happens to all the run-off and watch as pollution from one part of the watershed affects the entire watershed. This is a great lesson in water conservation and pollution. Learn the history of the springs, from the time of the prehistoric animals to the present.

Hanging Out in the Habitat (Grades 2-5)
Students will learn about habitats, niches, ecosystems and food webs through an exploration of the Preserve's wilderness areas. They’ll check out the native and non-native species of plants and animals, hunt for the clues that animals have left behind and identify plants along the river. Students will also have a chance to look at the karst rock topography of the woods and river.

What’s In Your Water? (Grades 6–8)
Through an in-depth hands-on experience, students will collect and analyze water samples from around the Preserve. 

Using chemical water testing kits, students will determine dissolved oxygen, pH, and other basic chemical levels. Students will be guided through a discussion of their results and explore how these levels effect the overall health of the waters on the preserve. 

River Critter Roundup (Grades 6–8)
Students will tour the Preserve and learn how the water in the spring gets to and from the aquifer. Students will do a biodiversity survey of the invertebrates and vertebrates that live in the river and explore diversity and ecosystem health. 

Florida Chemistry (Grades 9–12)
While exploring the various habitats at the Preserve, students will collect water samples from each. They will use chemical tests to compare dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and pH levels of their samples. Students will analyze their results to determine the health of the river and spring ecosystems.

Rolling In the River (Grades 9–12)
Students will perform an in-depth benthic Investigation of the Hillsborough River. Students will wade into the river with sampling nets and collection tubs collecting macro-invertabrates and vertabrates. 

Florida Aquarium (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk)

Exploring the Bay (Grades 3–12)
Come aboard our Bay Spirit II catamaran, and see Tampa Bay in a whole new way!  Search for dolphins, birds, and other aquatic life forms in their natural habitat.  Tours are narrated by an educator. 

Plankton Lab (Grades 5–12)
Most plankton may be small, but they’ve got a big job to do!  Learn the importance of plankton and meet live specimens eye-to-eye.  Students will spy on the secret world of tiny, living organisms that come straight from Tampa Bay.

Guided Tour of the Wetlands of Florida -  Virtual Program 
Join an instructor on a guided tour of the Wetlands of Florida and Bays and Beaches habitats. See how many different birds, reptiles, and fishes you can find. Questions about the animals and habitats can be submitted via the chat option.

Custom Virtual Programs (Grades K-12)
The Florida Aquarium will work with you to design a virtual program that meets your needs.  Tell them your topic and their experienced staff will incorporate different aspects of The Florida Aquarium into your personalized program.

Glazer Children’s Museum (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk) 

The Glazer Children's Museum will work with Splash! grantees to create a program tailored to fit your needs. If scheduling a program with Glazer, please forward the tentative agenda to the SWFWMD Splash! grant project manager for approval.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Citrus, Marion)

The park features a children’s education center, providing hands-on experiences about Florida’s environment including an aquifer display. With enough notice, park staff can arrange an educational program on springs. It is the teacher’s responsibility to confirm the field trip is focused on freshwater. 

Mad Science (serving all counties in the SWFWMD) 

“What Do You Know About H2O?” (Grades K–5)
This entertaining special event for up to 250 students is brought right to your school’s campus. Students will be amazed at the incredible and often unknown properties of water. The presentation flows from understanding how water acts physically, to the importance of water conservation and what we can do to save this vital resource.

“Wacky Water” (Grades 1–8)
Students will have fun while experimenting with water, waves and density. During this hands-on activity, students will create a density stacker and drop in various objects. 

“Black and Blue Oceans” (Grades 3–6)
Students will learn the importance of Earth’s precious water resources and ways to protect them through the design and test of a mock oil spill. Students will discuss how to clean up and prevent the pollution that plagues our oceans. For this activity, please request a connection to freshwater and estuarian resources.  

“Exploring Ecosystems” (Grades 3–6)
Students will investigate the interconnections present in nature. They will build ecosystem models, explore the elements of energy webs, reflect on how humans impact ecosystems, and use field journals for everyday explorations, and more.

Custom Programs
Mad Science also offers customized programs. Contact Mad Science to learn more about the man options available for you and your students!

Manatee County Natural Resources Department (Manatee and Sarasota)

Estuary Exploration (Grades K-12)
Estuaries act as a nursery for plants and animals that live at the edge of the salt water. These plants and animals depend on one another to exist! In this program, students will learn about the salt marsh and mangrove swamp food web, play the Marsh Munchers game, and get in the water with dip nets to view marine fauna up close. This program takes place at Emerson Point Preserve or Robinson Preserve NEST and is two hours. 

Watershed Wonders (Grades 6-12)
Land and water are connected.  Our actions in one location have effects on the other. In this program, students will recreate and observe the effects of pollution, weather, and human activities on aquatic habitats by using a miniature model of the Manatee River watershed. Students will walk through the Robinson Preserve Expansion to observe how elevation affects the flow of water and evaluate how different land uses can impact aquatic habitats.  Students will play the How Long Until It’s Gone game to learn about the decomposition rates of various types of marine debris.  This program takes place at Robinson Preserve Expansion and NEST Nature Center and is one hour thirty minutes.

Water Safari (Grades 6-12)
Aquatic macroinvertebrates, or invertebrates that can be seen with the naked eye, can tell us a lot about the quality of the water where they are found! In this program, students will wade in a pond or river and use dip nets to collect small aquatic creatures. Students will identify and sort the organisms, make observations of the aquatic habitat, and use scientific methodology to assess the overall water quality of the area. This program takes place at Emerson Point Preserve or Rye Preserve and is one hour thirty minutes.   

Bay ROVers (Grades 6-12)
Tampa Bay is home to a great deal of Floridian marine life. From the seagrass that feeds the manatees to the sharks that keep fish populations in control, each living organism plays a role in maintaining a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Explore a few of the anthropogenic effects that are impacting Tampa Bay via underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). By combining engineering and life sciences, students will get a hands-on experience in studying real-world environmental issues. This program takes place at Robinson Preserve or Emerson Point Preserve and is two hours. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Manatee) 

Extend your classroom with a journey through Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Take a guided school tour or virtual exploration, along with complementary curricular packets for school groups. Work with garden staff to tailor a program that fits with your grant activities. 

Moccasin Lake Nature Park (Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) (Grades K-12)

Fresh Water Chemistry
Learn what makes water healthy enough for plants and animals to thrive. Participants will test the waters of Moccasin Lake and discover the chemistry behind healthy waterways. 

Pond Safari
Grab a dip net, and take the plunge. See what organisms are lurking in the waterways at Moccasin Lake Nature Park. 

Weather in Florida
Learn to prepare for the best and worst that Florida weather has to offer. Discover why and how to protect ourselves from both the sun and hurricanes. 

Mote Marine Aquarium (Sarasota, Manatee) 

Exploring the Bay (K-2)
Students will have the chance to explore beneath the waters of Sarasota Bay. During this program, students will use dip nets to find and learn about local critters in the bay.

Droplet Dash: An Essential Journey (Grades 3-5) 
Take a journey with Mote as we learn about the importance of water on earth. This hand-on STEM lab examines the continuous movement of H2O within Earth and the atmosphere, while explaining how humans and animals impact our oceans. Through several small lab experiments, student scientists will explore this complex system known as the water cycle.

Field Sampling Techniques (Grades 3–12)
Students will learn about the importance of estuaries while collecting organisms that live in Sarasota Bay. During this experience-based learning program, students will get wet while wading in the bay, learning techniques for collecting data that later can be analyzed.

Virtual Field Trips
Mote Marine Aquarium virtual trips are live, two-way, interactive experiences between your school and their laboratory. Staff will connect your students to STEM subject matter experts and engage their curiosity with science demonstrations.

MOSI (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Sumter) 

Stormy Weather (Grades 3-5)
Be prepared for anything with this “low pressure” class that shows how and why weather patterns change. Learn about the tools used by meteorologists, see a cloud in a bottle, and learn about the rain cycle. Find out about lightning safety, hurricane preparedness, and see how many drops your cloud can hold before it “rains” inside a plastic cup.

Weather Wonders - MOSI In Motion Assembly (Grades K-8)
Lightning strikes more than once in this stormy show all about weather and climate. Students will investigate how heat, pressure, and water combine to create both daily weather patterns and extreme storms! 

Myakka River State Park (Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota) 

The Myakka River flows through 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands at the Myakka River State Park. With enough notice, park staff may be able to assist with water quality testing but the teacher must provide all educational instruction. It is the teacher’s responsibility to confirm the field trip is focused on freshwater. 

Rainbow Springs State Park (Citrus, Marion and Sumter) 

Rainbow Springs, located in Marion County, is Florida’s fourth largest spring. With enough notice, park staff may be able to assist in planning springs educational opportunities for students. 

Sensing Nature (will travel to all participating counties) 

Custom Field Experiences (Grades K-12)
Sensing Nature offers hands-on indoor and outdoor programming custom to fit your needs and location. You choose the outdoor location and Sensing Nature provides your guided outdoor adventure!  Activities and topics may include, but are not limited to, natures hikes, swamp tromps, natural ecology, conservation, freshwater dip netting, canoeing/kayaking and more!

Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota*) 

Mangroves and Mudflats Explorations (Grades 3-5)
Via kayak, students will explore Newman’s Branch Creek Paddling Trail and be immersed in the mangrove swamps of Tampa Bay. Topics covered will include learning about our Tampa Bay estuary through mangrove exploration. Students will be challenged to find as many plants and animals as they can while learning about the adaptations these creatures must have to survive in this habitat.

Mangroves Metaphors (Grades 6-8)
Via kayak, students will explore Newman’s Creek Paddling Trail and be immersed in the mangrove swamps of Tampa Bay. Topics covered will include 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.

Marine Habitats from Marshes to Mudflats (Grades 9-12)
Students will learn about marine habitats in the Tampa Bay area: river, mangrove, marsh, seagrass, and sandy beach, and then draw connections about the locations of these habitats as they relate to the Tampa Bay watershed. Via kayak, students will explore Newman’s Creek Paddling Trail and be immersed in the mangrove swamps of Tampa Bay. Students will end their visit by drawing upon their daily lives to determine how they can protect such an important habitat.

Suncoast Science Center (Sarasota) 

Science Lending Library
The Suncoast Science Center’s Science Lending Library offers cutting-edge equipment and science kits to schools in Sarasota and Manatee Counties at no cost. Through the Science Lending Library, educators are able to enhance their curriculum and promote exploration for improved understanding of science concepts.

Tampa Bay Watch (Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas) 

Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) (Grades 6–12)
Tampa Bay Watch’s Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) program aims to facilitate youth involvement in habitat restoration efforts by allowing students to work side-by–side with local scientists to help restore the Tampa Bay watershed. At participating schools, students help to create a wetland nursery where they plant, maintain, and harvest estuarine wetland plants to be replanted into targeted coastal areas. Coastal wetland plants stabilize shorelines, act as storm buffers, filter storm water runoff, and provide habitat for many wildlife species. Throughout the school year, state standard-aligned curriculum is offered in conjunction with service learning projects to provide critical knowledge and promote environmental stewardship.

Kayak Tampa Bay
Students paddle through the pristine Shell Key Preserve and learn about the unique estuarine habitats.

Snorkel Tampa Bay
Students immerse themselves in the bay, exploring the various habitats and their inhabitants. Participants must provide their own snorkel gear.

Microplastics (Grades 7-12)
Students learn about the concerns of plastic in the environment. They use scientific tools to filter water samples in search of plastics, participating in a state-wide citizen science project.

Plankton Encounter (Grades K-12)
Students collect water samples and use microscopes to discover the life within a water drop. Students learn about some of the smallest plants and animals in the marine environment and their importance. Also available as a virtual field trip with lab kits available for students.

Seine The Bay (Grades 2-12)
Students wade into shallow seagrass beds, exploring the habitat and using nets to collect marine organisms.

Water Quality (Grades 6-12)
Students learn about water quality parameters used to measure the health of our local waters. They use scientific tools to test water samples and collect data, participating in a worldwide citizen science project.

Estuary Dynamics – Virtual Presentation
Join Tampa Bay Watch educators as they guide students through the Tampa Bay estuary, discussing the intricacies of the ecosystem. Delve into the habitats and explore the biodiversity within.

Environmental Education Centers (EEC) 

EECs may or may not have the availability to accommodate Splash! grant field programs based upon their schedule of school district field trip programs. Feel free to contact the educators at an EEC within your school’s county for availability. 

  • Anderson EEC at Sawgrass Lake Park (Pinellas)
  • Brooker Creek Preserve (Pinellas) see additional details on the Brooker Creek Preserve listing above
  • Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center
  • Citrus County Marine Science Station (Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter)
  • Cross Bar Ranch (Pasco)
  • Hardee Outdoor Classroom
  • Polk Nature Discovery Center
  • Starkey EEC (Pasco)

UF/IFAS County Extension Offices 

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) created the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program which is a set of nine guiding principles that help save water and reduce water pollution in the landscape. The Southwest Florida Water Management District partners with the university to provide Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL)™ education through county Extension offices. Contact your county Extension office to learn how the FFL coordinator can assist with your grant. 

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County (Sarasota) (Grades K–12) 

The UF/IFAS Extension Service provides education to local communities that helps residents create a Florida landscape with minimal negative environmental impact, a Florida-friendly landscape. Staff is available to educate students on various topics including how to create a Florida-friendly landscape and how to reduce stormwater runoff. The Enviroscape® Nonpoint-Source Pollution Model can be exhibited to students. 

Water Resource Management Facilities 

  • Desalination plants
  • Wastewater treatment facilities
  • Water reservoirs
  • Water treatment facilities