Alaska Coastal Ecology


The Alaska Coastal Ecology program offers the option of a day trip or residential 2 or 3-day program acrossKachemak Bay from Homer. Grades 4-12. April-May or September-October.


The Alaska Coastal Ecology day or residential program for grades 4-12 is based out of Peterson Bay Field Station or the UAF-NOAA Kasitsna Bay Lab on the south side of Kachemak Bay. CACS naturalists lead beach and forest field trips and environmental science and education activities related to plant and animal adaptations, ecological interrelationships, and art from nature. Teaching activities are aligned with the Alaska State Science Standards and best teaching practices for effective science and environmental education.

  • Unmatched intertidal areas are within easy walking distance of both Peterson Bay Field Station and Kasitsna Bay Lab. More than 50 species of intertidal invertebrates are commonly observed during beach field trips during the extreme minus tides that occur each month in Kachemak Bay.
  • Marine live tanks and aquaria are set up and maintained after the danger of frost is over, to provide a diversity of marine invertebrates for student observation.
  • A trail system at Peterson Bay Field station provides opportunities for beach and forest hikes. Hiking is also available near Kasitsna Bay Lab. Students take part in botany, ethnobotany, and forest ecology studies and activities along forest trails that wind through the northern edge of the coastal forest. The forest currently provides a living laboratory of ecological change.
  • A prehistoric Native house site and nearby shell midden provide a glimpse of cultural history at Peterson Bay
  • A science lab room at the Peterson Bay Field Station is equipped with microscopes for in-depth study or marine invertebrates, plants, and lichens. Kasitsna Bay Lab provides an up-close glimpse at the work of marine scientists, and use of a professional wet lab and microscope lab.
  • Gravel beaches at both facilities are accessible during low tide for outdoor games.  Campfires can be built on the campuses of both Peterson Bay Field Station and Kasitsna Bay Lab.

Planning a Coastal Ecology Field Trip

Snowshoe pictures by Ruthie Aldrich 1Field trips for school groups in grades 4-12 are scheduled during April and May. Field trips may also be arranged for homeschool, charter school, or other youth groups after Memorial Day until early October.

Classes spend one to three days at the Peterson Bay Field Station or Kasitsna Bay Lab. CACS naturalists work with teachers and group leaders to plan field trip activities and to accommodate the teacher's learning objectives for the field trip.  For details on the program options, logistics, and facilities please download our planning guides below.

A minimum of 25 (students + adults) is required for trips before Memorial Day. It is more difficult to provide a quality education program around the logistics of groups larger than 35, so larger groups require additional planning time between CACS staff and the teacher and chaperones. CACS requires one adult chaperone per six students, plus teachers.

Teachers or group leaders may download curriculum materials before the field trip, including the Teacher Background Guide to the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program, and the Atlas to Marine Invertebrates that provides information on the species that students are likely to observe during beach field trips.

Teachers Guide to the Aalska Coastal Ecology Program

Download a pdf version of The Peterson Bay Field Station Teacher's Planning Guide to the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Download a pdf version of The Kasitsna Bay Lab Teacher's Planning Guide for the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Download a pdf version of the Teacher Background Guide for the Alaska Coastal Ecology Program.

Click here to find additional teaching materials for your trip.


Boat Transportation

The Peterson Bay Field Station is approximately a 30-minute boat ride from Homer, and the ride to Kasitsna Bay Lab is about an hour long. A stop to observe the Gull Island seabird rookery is included in the field trip to the Peterson Bay Field Station when the birds are present on the island. There is an additional fee of $15 per person to include Gull Island on trips to the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory. Access to the Peterson Bay Field Station is tide dependent. While we try to schedule departure times in the early afternoon, there may be evening or morning departures scheduled.


Download the 2023 Field Trip Request Form

We will begin accepting reservations for the spring, 2023 season by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) on  October 6, 2022, at 8:00 a.m.


Due to the demand for field trips during the limited minus tide periods in April and May, we have a "first come-first served" policy, but will try to place you during your first or second choice times. Please consider including weekend days to take advantage of extreme low tides and consider September or early October field trips. For reservations received in October, we will notify you of the dates we have reserved for you by November 9th. The boat schedule will be confirmed at a later date.

A non-refundable deposit of $300 is due on December 1st.

30% of the estimated cost of the trip is due by February 1st. 
You may contact us anytime during the school year to find out if there are still openings.

Program Fees

CACS is a non-profit organization with youth as our primary audience for environmental education. We try very hard to keep our fees reasonable for school groups. Prices include round trip boat transportation, lodging, instruction and use of microscope and touch tank labs. Prices are per participant and include both adults and students. One teacher for each class is not required to pay fees.

Program and Location Price per participant
Peterson Bay Field Station Day Trip $120
Peterson Bay Field Station One Night $135
Peterson Bay Field Station Two Nights $160
Kasitsna Bay Lab One Night* $155
Kasitsna Bay Lab Two Nights* $193

*Additional $15 per person for a stop at Gull Island


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