Marine Biology Camp with Jeannie Fulbright

Marine Biology Camp with Jeannie Fulbright

We’re excited to announce our next Homeschool Enrichment Adventure Road Trip (HEART trip) ♥ ! We are going to Vero Beach and Sebastian Inlet, Florida, for a marine biology camp with Jeannie Fulbright! The dates for our trip are September 18-21, 2022.

On this trip, we’ll be doing a marine biology camp for the whole family! And we’re super excited that our favorite author of science curriculum, Jeannie Fulbright, will be joining us to do some of the teaching! If you used the Apologia Exploring Creation Young Explorer books with your children–or if you’re using them now–Jeannie is the author of those books. She uses a very Charlotte Mason approach to teaching science, and we love it! We think you will too.

What is a HEART Trip?

Our educational road trips are called HEART trips (Homeschool Enrichment Adventure Road Trips) because that explains exactly what we do on each of our trips! We take homeschooling families on educational trips that enhance and enrich what you are learning or will be learning in your homeschools. You’ll find that we always add in a little adventure too!

What ages attend HEART trips?

By the time of this trip, we will have been road-tripping for six years with homeschooling families from all across the United States (and even Canada and Australia)! We have new families on each trip. And we have some families who have joined us on every trip we’ve taken since the beginning.

On each trip, we always have a great mix of ages (from toddlers to teens) as well as homeschooling parents and grandparents.

Who plans and hosts HEART trips?

We (Trish and Wendy) personally plan each trip. And we serve as your guides while we’re at each location doing each activity.

We also always have experts on location teaching us about the topics we’re studying.

How are HEART trips different from other homeschool-related trips?

Something that makes our trips unique is that we intentionally have times for our families to get to know each other. Our families eat meals together, play games together, and share educational (but fun!) experiences. We love to see homeschooling families get to know each other and form lifelong friendships–kids, teens, and parents included!

Note: It is not required that both parents attend these trips. However, these trips are for homeschooling families. At least one parent (or grandparent) must attend each trip and each activity along with your child/ren.

Why should travel be included in your homeschool?

Research proves that we retain more of what we learn when we’re having fun! And we know from our own experience that travel is the perfect way for all kinds of learners (auditory, hands-on, visual) to immerse themselves in lots of activities that will help them learn, apply, and remember information. And, as we mentioned above, another benefit is creating friendships along the way!

For more information about what we’ll be doing at our marine biology camp, keep reading!

Study marine biology from a Charlotte Mason perspective with Jeannie. 

When we take homeschooling families on our trips, we already mentioned that we always have experts there to teach us about the topics we’re studying on that trip. We know excellence in science education matters, and Jeannie Fulbright is definitely an expert!

She’s the author of the best-selling, award-winning Apologia science series (Apologia Exploring Creation Young Explorer Series). But don’t worry! The studies we’ll be doing on our HEART trip are for all ages from young children through high school/teenagers (and even parents!).

Jeannie uses a Charlotte Mason approach to make science fun, meaningful, and hands-on. There’s no better way to help your children–no matter their ages–develop (or continue to develop) a love of science!

Unique (and Possibly First-time) Experiences We’ll Be Doing at Our Marine Biology Camp

Our camp will include some unique and possibly first-time experiences specifically designed for marine ecosystems and well-known to Stella Maris’ experts (for both kids and adults) such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

Hands-on Studies of Marine Animals, Vegetation, Flora and Fauna, Chemistry, Hydrology, and Ecosystems

We will gain awareness of native and non-native marine vertebrates and crustaceans, oyster reefs, aquatic vegetation, terrestrial flora and fauna, invasive and native plants, water chemistry, hydrology, and ecosystem services. All of these will be taught by Ashley and her team as well as Jeannie, in a variety of hands-on ways. Why? Because we want to get into the tide pools to experience these concepts through hands-on exploration!

Dissections for All Students 

Our students will take part in dissections too! In fact, students of all ages will participate in an activity in which they dissect a squid. (Younger children will be required to have help from a parent or grandparent for this activity.)

Add-on Day of Dissections for Students Ages 12 and Up

And we will offer an add-on day for students in grades 8 and up (ages 12 and up) in which they will spend an extra day of dissections!

Turtle Nest Excavation

And for those who’ve never seen or excavated a turtle nest, you’ll have that to look forward to also!

Where Our Explorations Take Place

Sebastian Inlet, Florida, is the location for this HEART Trip.

Sebastian Inlet features three miles of white-sand beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches. Between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, Sebastian Inlet State Park is the perfect starting point for study and fun on the water. Because Sebastian Inlet State Park is on a barrier island, its natural communities have been molded by the forces of wind and water. The island is kind of like a layer cake of beach, dunes, maritime forest, and tidal swamp. Each ecosystem is shaped by its relationship with the Atlantic Ocean and we will study them all!

These coastal ecosystems support a range of unique Florida wildlife. Sea turtles return to these shores to lay their eggs each summer. The park provides important resting, feeding, and nesting habitats for many imperiled birds, including the roseate spoonbill, little blue heron, reddish egret, tricolored egret, wood stork, black skimmer, and plovers.

The southern beach mouse, one of the park’s rarest animal residents, makes its home among dune grasses. Other notable park wildlife includes gopher tortoises, manatees, and dolphins. Raccoons, opossums, and many other small animals can be routinely observed. Bobcats, alligators, and river otters are occasionally seen.

We will explore and learn about Sebastian Inlet, the beach, the river, the dunes, and the forest both on foot and by paddleboard or kayak.

Details… What We Will Do?

Exact schedules are provided to participants closer to the time of the trip. Please keep in mind that, while we plan to do every activity we’ve mentioned, weather and other situations beyond our control may play a part in our exact schedule. Adjustments will be made as needed. If you’d like an idea of what we’ll be doing, though, keep reading to find out!

Welcome Festival

We will begin our adventure together with a welcome festival in a mangrove forest on Sebastian Inlet! We strongly encourage all families to attend this event since it’s our first chance to get to know new families or reunite with friends from previous trips.

You will each have the chance to eat together (accommodations will be made for those with special diets), play games, and even have family photos made by our photographer!

Photo Credit:

Turtle Nest Study and Hatchling CSI

Nest “digs” are a vital part of sea turtle conservation. These digs are excavations of sea turtle nests from which the sea turtle eggs have hatched. We will excavate one of these nests and, if possible, witness the release of any hatchlings we can find during the nest excavation. (These are hatchlings that otherwise might not have been able to leave the nest and make their way to the ocean.)

Why would we excavate a sea turtle nest? Isn’t that a bad idea? The answer is, “It’s a great idea!” In fact, the FWC Sea Turtle Handbook encourages it.

The total number of sea turtle nests on Florida beaches is important to determine sea turtle population, but it’s also important to determine egg-to-hatchling survivorship since sea turtles are subjected to many dangers–some from other animals and some caused by people.

Bivalve / Univalve Study

Seashells are not only homes for sea creatures, but they’re also beautiful works of art with their wonderful variety of shapes and colors. We will study the characteristics of shells by collecting, sorting, and studying them.

Dissection and Watercolor Gyotaku Art 

Through squid dissection, students will examine some of the unique features which have allowed squid to adapt and thrive. This dissection lesson will allow students to identify the internal and external anatomy of the squid, learn the terms associated with squid, and discover the various functions of its organs. (Note: for the younger students, we encourage the adults and older kids to do the actual dissection.)

We will also do an art project called Gyotaku Art. (Below is an example of how beautiful gyotaku art can be!) This is a traditional form of art that began many years ago as a way for fishermen to keep track of the fish they caught. As you can see, though, it also has the ability to produce a beautiful work of art!

Gyotaku No. 2 | Fun. Need some help with painting skills... … | Flickr
Photo Credit: Tom Hart, Flickr


We will participate in lots of other fun and educational activities such as:

  • Seine netting and creating a living Venn diagram
    • Used since the stone age, seine nets are a great way to explore  the underwater world and all the creatures living in there. We will compare organisms and see how all of these worlds work together as one underwater ecosystem.
  • Food chain study
    • All things in a single ecosystem have connections to multiple food chains. We will unpack what’s for lunch for these organisms and who is left and who has a full belly.
  • Tidal pool study
    • An isolated pocket of estuary found  within the Sebastian Inlet hosts a plethora of vertebrates and invertebrates! We get to walk into this zero entry tidal pool to view the underwater world on display in this beautiful tidal pool.
  • Engineering, physical oceanography, and currents through raft construction
    • We apply chemistry, geology, meteorology, biology, and other branches of science to the study of the ocean. It is especially important today as pollution and other factors are threatening the ocean and its marine life.
  • Learning about (and experiencing) estuary habitats via paddleboards and kayaks
    • Behold the cradle of the ocean, serving as a spawning and nursery ground for ocean and lagoon fish as you glide across the water in the Indian River Lagoon. What you experience is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the Northern Hemisphere and is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals-  fifty-three of which are threatened or endangered species, including the West Indian manatee and the eastern indigo snake, make their home in the lagoon at some point in their lives.
  • Charlotte Mason nature journaling on location with Jeannie Fulbright
    • explore the wonders of the Florida native maritime hammocks and coastal zones of the barrier island dune system.

  • Learning about mole crabs
    • Sand Fleas, WHAT? lets get to know these sand digging decapods first hand while we reach into their habitat within the swash region of the intertidal zone. these small burrowing crabs are a vital part of the marine food chain and are often called sand bugs, sand crabs or the most inaccurate, sand fleas.
  • Studying shorebirds and their adaptations and answering questions such as:
    • What types of bills and beaks do particular birds have? What does that tell us about the kinds of foods particular birds eat?
    • What does leg length signify?
    • Do all shorebirds have webbed feet?
  • Discussing coastal zones:
    • What are coastal zones?
    • Why are they important?
    • Why should we be concerned about them?
    • How can we help manage and care for them?
  • Learning about animal architects:
    • What are they?
    • Why do we call them “animal architects”?
    • What makes them special?
    • Why are they important?

Bioluminescent Kayak Trip:  A Bucket List Item!

On this trip, we are super excited that we’ll be going on a bioluminescent kayak trip! This is a bucket list item for many folks, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to do it!

This will be a night-time activity since we’ll need darkness in order to paddle into the glowing waterway of dinoflagellates in single and tandem kayaks.

This glowing plankton is a natural phenomenon that only happens a few months each year. It creates a beautiful, magical glow around the kayaks. We hope to see Bioluminescent Comb Jellies (jellyfish that glow in the dark).

Here is what the bioluminescent kayak trips looked like in 2021. We are praying it will be this great this year! Of course, we can’t control the weather or nature… 🙂


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Cocoa Kayaking (@cocoakayaking)


Each evening, we will spend time hanging out with our new friends. Sunday evening we will play board games in the lobby of the hotel and by the pool. So be sure to bring your favorite games to play!

Monday night, we will be eating pizza and playing at an amazing water park! Lifeguards will be on duty.

The activity pool is zero depth for easy entry for all ages. It has slides, water cannons, bubblers, a water tree, and a huge water play structure.

To register, keep scrolling until you see the “Ready to Register?” section below.

When: September 18 – 21 (4 days / 3 nights). Note there is an extra add-on day for dissection labs for middle and high school students ages 12 and up. (There is an additional cost for this add-on. Please see below for details.)

Where: Vero Beach and Sebastian Inlet, FL

Payments: Please see the information below for pricing and payment information. Each family will need to pay a non-refundable registration fee of $250 at the time of registration and will need to pay the balance by July 15th.

The registration fee of $250 per family is due upon registration. Because we can only accommodate a limited number of families on this trip, you’ll want to sign up and pay your registration fee to hold your spot as soon as possible. Also, please note that teens (ages 13 and up) are counted as adults for this trip. For that reason, on the price list, you will see 2 adults without children. (This is the price for the trip when one adult attends with one teen.)


Our hotel for this trip will be the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Vero Beach. Each room will be equipped with two queen beds, a mini-refrigerator, microwave, free wifi, and a trundle bed. Each room sleeps six. We have a very limited number of rooms available, so register as soon as you know you are going. Adjoining rooms are available for an additional fee. First come, first served.

PLEASE NOTE: On our previous trip to Crystal River, Florida, we had to turn away families who waited too late to register since our trip was full.  We will have to close registration once we’ve reached the maximum number of families/participants. 


All meals are included except one dinner.

  • continental breakfast every morning (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning) at our hotel
  • catered lunch Monday and Tuesday
  • dinner Sunday and Monday. We will be driving an hour away to Cocoa Beach for the bioluminescent kayak trip, so that evening, families will provide their own food on the way to Cocoa Beach.

Ready to Register?

Once you have registered and paid your registration fee, you will be added to a private Facebook group that is only for those adults who will travel with us. (We create a group like this for each of our HEART trips.)

This private Facebook group allows those who will be attending to start getting to know each other. It also gives us a place to share important information with those who will attend.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is required that you – or at least one adult who is attending the trip and who is doing the planning for your family – join this Facebook group since it is the primary way we communicate important information and details about the trip with the families who attend. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you will need to create one to use until the conclusion of the trip.


  1. Once you’ve filled out the form below, this page will reload. PLEASE be sure to scroll back down to the bottom of the page to be sure your form was correctly filled out and accepted. If any information was missing, you’ll see that space highlighted in red and will need to add the information and submit the form again.
  2. Once you’ve submitted the form and it has been accepted, you will see a message (when you scroll back down to the bottom of the page again) that says “Your information was submitted. Thanks for registering. Be on the lookout for an email.”
  3. Your next step will be to check your email to be sure you received the confirmation email. The confirmation email will have the information you submitted along with your total amount due.
  4. In a day or two, you will receive a PayPal invoice so you can pay your $250 registration fee. (We have to send these out ourselves since they are not automatically generated.) Please pay this invoice right away in order to secure your spot on our trip.
  5. Once your registration fee is paid, Trish and Wendy will send you Facebook friend requests and will add you to the private Facebook group just for our Marine Biology Camp attendees. This private group is where we make plans, share important information, and get to know each other, so it is required that you (or at least one adult who is attending the trip and who is doing the planning for your family) join this group! Otherwise, you will miss important information. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you will need to create one. You can, of course, delete your account after the trip if you like.

OPTIONAL: Add-on Event for Students ages 12 and Up:

We have added an extra day of advanced science available on Thursday. This day will include four additional more complicated dissections. Since we are working all day on Thursday, two additional nights in the hotel are included in this price (Wednesday and Thursday nights), lunch on Thursday,  as well as all dissection specimens. The additional price for this add-on:

Registration Form:

If you have any questions, please email usand we will be glad to help!! Be sure to put “Marine Biology Camp Question” in your subject line.

We’ve seen many life-long friendships begin on our trips, and we expect the same thing to happen in Florida! That is one of the greatest missions of these HEART trips–building community for families living the home education lifestyle. We can’t wait to meet you and your family and to hang out with friends who have been with us on other trips!! ♥ ♥ ♥


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