Conserve Wildlife Blog


August 7th, 2020

by Morgan Mark, CWF Intern

CWF took Asbury Park School students on a virtual field trip to the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center in Barnegat Bay.

Asbury Park elementary schoolers participating in the district’s Summer Enrichment Program have had a wild reason to look forward to Wednesdays this summer – Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s virtual Wildlife Explorers Program sponsored by New Jersey Natural Gas. 

CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio has been teaching students about the wildlife that lives, breeds, and migrates in their community. Virtual field trips, engaging lessons, and live webcams have exposed elementary schoolers to a gamut of topics ranging from oystercatcher adaptations to ocean litter.

This two-month curriculum reinforces the Asbury Park School District’s emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and gives students access to nature right from their own homes. To participate in activities authentic to biologists, students have been recording weekly observations and data in science field journals, holding meaningful discussions about the environment, and completing at-home activities.

“New Jersey Natural Gas has been involved in the Asbury Park community for nearly 70 years,” said Tom Hayes, the Director of Customer and Community Relations. “Strengthening sustainability and engagement in our communities, especially educating about our environment, are the main focus of our community involvement, so this is exactly the type of program we are excited to be a partner on.”

The program’s first four weeks focused on coastal habitat and the animals that live there. Each session covered a rare animal species and what can be done to protect it. By pairing PowerPoints detailing how marine debris impacts ospreys with live-streamed lessons capturing these animals in action, students have transformed themselves into conservationists who are inspired to defend New Jersey’s threatened wildlife.

The course opened with a virtual field trip to the beach dedicated to learning about the City of Long Branch and NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s collaborative efforts to protect an American oystercatcher nesting pair and their chicks. Students experienced a day in the life of an ornithologist by observing, identifying, and comparing common bird species including ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, and oystercatchers. By reading about the importance of protecting these birds in their natural habitats and analyzing interpretive signs created by NJDEP Wildlife Biologists that safeguard the nesting area, students practiced comprehension strategies to become effective readers.

“In this most challenging year, so many children and adults alike are reconnecting online with the nature and wildlife all around us,” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “Thanks to the sponsorship of New Jersey Natural Gas, Asbury Park students are able to learn directly from real-life biologists and wildlife educators about their roles in the natural world around us—and how the students themselves can make the world a better place.”

On July 22, students embarked on a virtual journey to the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center, New Jersey’s first marine conservation zone. DAlessio walked students through the century-old Sedge House, introduced viewers to endangered baby terrapins, and quizzed wildlife explorers about species discovered in seine nets such as silversides, jellyfish, and blue claw crabs. By actively participating via virtual video conferencing to do the authentic work of a wildlife biologist, students were able to think critically, hone deductive reasoning skills, and have fun in the process.

After a July jam-packed with facts about beach nesting birds, terrapins, and horseshoe crabs, the focus of August shifts to woodland ecosystems. Exploring how decomposing logs foster life on the forest floor and how special adaptations make the corn snake unique gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. 

For more information about CWF education programs, visit

Thank you to New Jersey Natural Gas for sponsoring Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Wednesdays as part of the Asbury Park School Summer Enrichment Program.

Music used in video: Montauk Point by Kevin MacLeod



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