ESL Education and Outreach

The Eastern Shore Laboratory (ESL) supports a wide variety of educational activities ranging from single-day fieldtrips to multi-week classes for students from a diversity of institutions. Instructors and students from VIMS, William & Mary, and numerous other colleges and universities in Virginia, other states, and other countries use the field station for classes. ESL staff also host a variety of public-education activities throughout the year.

VIMS and College of William & Mary Course

An undergraduate field course is currently offered through the School of Marine Science at VIMS, with cross-listings in other departments.

Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments

MSCI 331, GEOL 407, ENST 404, BIOL 404

  • Instructors: Drs. M. Luckenbach, R. Snyder, J. Perry and M. Brush.
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Location: VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory. Students will be in residence at the field station.
  • Contact: [[v|rsnyder,Dr. Richard Snyder]] with [[luck,Dr. Mark Luckenbach]]

This course focuses on fundamental processes in marine science through the examination of the near shore, barrier island, coastal lagoon, and salt marsh environments along Virginia’s outer coast. Through a series of field trips, lectures, laboratory exercises and independent projects, students will examine the fauna and flora of the region and learn how natural and anthropogenic factors shape these coastal ecosystems. Housing is provided at the VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory. Meals are included. Lab fee required.

VIMS-ESL Educational Collaborations

In addition to supporting courses for undergraduate and graduate students from the College of William and Mary, VIMS-ESL supports the teaching missions of a variety of outside institutions by providing field experiences for middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate courses. Each year, VIMS-ESL hosts visits by a variety of middle school and high school programs including the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Estuary Explorers summer camp, Broadwater Academy’s oceanography class, and Hampton High School’s International Baccalaureate Program.e

More than 20 outside colleges and universities regularly bring their students to VIMS-ESL to get hands-on educational experience. While here, they use a variety of equipment and techniques to collect data on local environments and explore local ecosystems. Approximately half of these students come to the Eastern Shore from elsewhere in Virginia, while others come from other parts of the US including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and Ohio. A recently expanded collaboration with the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University in Wales will bring up to 40 students from the United Kingdom to VIMS-ESL each year.

Use of VIMS-ESL for education has expanded rapidly in recent years. In 2012, we hosted 25 classes for a total of 2,153 student-days. Several new and expanded collaborations are expected to increase use even further in the near future.

VIMS-ESL Summer Internship Program

For more than 20 years, VIMS-ESL researchers used grant funding to support 1-2 summer internships for local high school and college students each year. As part of a privately funded initiative, VIMS-ESL has expanded this summer internship program to hire 5 high school and college students from Accomack and Northampton Counties each year.ESL Interns

During the summer they spend working at VIMS-ESL, interns primarily assist VIMS-ESL staff with ongoing research projects. Recent projects have focused on restoration of scallops, ecosystem services provided by oyster reefs, and aquaculture-environment interactions. Interns also work with visiting researchers from a variety of academic and government institutions in United States as well as researchers from institutions around the world. 

Former VIMS-ESL summer interns often go on to receive undergraduate and advanced degrees in biology and environmental science. Many return to the Eastern Shore after college and find employment in the local aquaculture industry or other related fields.