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UGA Cooperative Extension: Georgia 4-H: Environmental Education

Burton 4-H Center

Complete Listing of Classes Offered and Suggestions for Group-led Evening Activities

The Environmental Education Program at the Burton 4-H Center combines our barrier island location and the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) to provide a classroom enrichment field study for students from K-12th grade. Class selection is determined at the lead teacher’s discretion. To assist in class selection, each class is listed and described below. For the standard 3 day/2 night program, choose 5 (2 hour) day classes and 2 (1 hour) evening classes.

One evening we will teach two one-hour evening classes. The other evening is a group-led evening planned by your group.

For a full list of Georgia Performance Standards met by each class, follow the links below:

Day Classes
(Choose 5)

Beach Ecology

Waves, sand and sea breezes are all important components in beach formation and a nice day at the beach!  Students learn how beaches change over time through the processes of erosion and deposition, and what techniques people use for beach stabilization.  They will begin class on-site for an introduction to beach formation and then will load the buses for a unique chance to explore and experience a Tybee Island beach.

Marsh Ecology

During Marsh Ecology, students are able to discover a very unique and biologically diverse habitat.  The first half of the class takes place at the 4-H Center where students view plankton samples, learn how the moon and sun cause tidal movements, and walk out on our dock to view various plants and animals living in the marsh.  The class concludes with students and adults walking in the salt marsh where they catch fiddler crabs, let periwinkle snails crawl on their hands, and learn how the marsh is critical for the survival for so many species.


Students are given the opportunity to choose a variety of activities. Choosies takes place on the beach and is a great opportunity for additional fun beach time.  Some examples of Choosies topics are: shark tooth hunting, making shell jewelry, beach combing, kite flying, building sand castles and other beach themed activities. 

Crab & Critters

Students have the opportunity to see and handle a variety of native and non-native animals ranging from blue crabs to corn snakes.  This class is perfect for students to learn about the life history of various animals, understand their role in the ecosystem, how to be respectful of the natural world around them. 

Dolphin Cruise

Dolphin Cruise to mouth of the Savannah River, is a cruise to see the most dolphins, goes near ocean so can be wavy, with some splashes and excitement.  Make separate check payable to Captain Mike's Dolphin Tours. Visit for more information.

Discovery Cruise

Ride along a marsh river on a private boat tour that includes dolphin searching and trawling. Students can touch animals caught and receive an in-depth teaching about coastal ecology. You must provide transportation to this activity because it is 20 minutes away. A separate check will need to be made check payable to Bull River Cruises. Visit for more information

Invertebrate Studies

Students learn about various scientific classification and marine invertebrate phylums. Some activities include netting, visiting our onsite dock, exploring discovery tanks and viewing organisms under a microscope.

Maritime Forest Ecology

The Maritime Forest ecosystem plays a vital role to island ecology and is rich in biodiversity. This class takes place on a hike through the wonderfully preserved land of Fort Pulaski National Monument. Along the trail, students discover many unique plants and animals while learning about their roles in the island ecosystem. Admission includes one adult per 5 children, additional adults are $7.00 each.


Orienteering is an active and challenging sport where people use a compass to find hidden targets on the landscape.  In this class students learn how to use a compass and apply math skills to calculate their pace. After practicing these skills, teams of students test their new abilities on our orienteering courses located at the Burton 4-H Center.

Pollution Solution

Pollution is an ever growing problem in the world. Class begins with an eye-opening trip to the beach where students pick up litter.  Upon their return to the Burton 4-H Center, students divide up their trash into different categories, calculate how much they found, and graph their findings.  We then discuss biodegrading and how long it would have taken some of their items to biodegrade.  Students are introduced to the three R’s (Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling) and finish the class with a game that compares the benefits of the three R’s.

Surf Sleuth

Classes venture into the surf zone to catch an array of salt water animals and plants by pulling a seine net through the waves.  After each tow, the group examines and discusses their catch.  Surf sleuth is a physically challenging class that allows students and adults to work as a team in catching and identifying oceanic organisms. Due to the nature of this selection this class is only offered from late-March through early November. 

Wetland Monitoring

Wetland Monitoring students determine the health of the local salt marsh by performing scientific laboratory tests.  Students follow test instructions, record data, and analyze their results to form a conclusion.  They will test for parameters such as nitrates, phosphates, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, etc.  Part of this class will take place on the Burton dock and other parts will be in the classroom.  Other activities focus on the importance of wetlands and their role in runoff pollution mitigation.  At the end, students will analyze all of the recorded data and compare them to normal expected ranges to determine the health of the marsh they sampled.

Fort Pulaski Tour

Let Fort Pulaski awe and inspire!  Follow in the footsteps of revolutionary thinkers, great engineering minds, fearless commanders and thousands of workers and soldiers who built and fought for control of this massive fortress. Let our experienced staff show your students this wonderfully preserved piece of Georgia and United States history.  We are experts at relating it to children.  We will also lead a fun and active scavenger hunt through the fort after our tour. One free adult per 5 children, additional adults $7.00 each.

Shark Dissection

This class includes an introduction to shark anatomy and their unique adaptations followed by hands-on dissection time. Our staff closely monitors the students and guides them with step-by-step instructions and explanations.  Due to the nature of the class and the skills required, it is recommended that only students in grades 6 and higher participate.  Choosing shark dissection as a day class will give students more time to dissect the shark and see more of its anatomy.  There is an additional fee of $3.00 per student.


Evening Classes
(Choose 2)

Night Walk

A dry, short walk on the beach incorporates various activities to enrich students' awareness of the beach at night.  Students learn about nocturnal adaptions of humans and animals through active games and sensory activities.  Night walks can also be a reflective time. Students will have quiet moments to experience the peacefulness of the beach at night after a long active day.  On clear dark nights, astronomy topics will be included.  Bioluminescent plankton may also be discovered on dark nights at the water’s edge.

Astronomy Class

Astronomy is a fascinating topic many people know little about but enjoying learning more. This class is a brief overview of several topics taught in an active and hands-on way at the Burton 4-H Center campus. Some time will be spent stargazing from our dock surrounded by the dark marsh. While gazing at the heavens students learn about various celestial objects including stars, constellations, planets, asteroids, meteors, and myth stories from different cultures. In another activity students walk out a scale model of our solar system running the length of the camp to help visualize the placement of planets. Another activity option, students hold a model of the Sun, Earth and moon and move around to better understand the phases of the moon and the day/night cycle.  Because of sunset time astronomy is only available November 1st – February 20th.  For groups of less than 60 students astronomy is available September 15th to March 20th. 


Get the entire group together for a fun-filled evening of skits, songs, jokes and stories.  Burton 4-H Center staff facilitates this campfire while providing students with a positive evening experience.  No ghost stories or s’mores during this class time, although you may lead s’more making after we complete our campfire (please let us know).

Quiz Show

Quiz Show is a fun review time presented in a jeopardy game show manner.  Students are divided into groups and compete for points by correctly answering questions pertaining to their field study classes.  Due to the nature of this class, it is only offered on the second evening of your field study.


This class will focus on various species of turtles, snakes, lizards and the American alligator.  We discuss what makes a reptile unique, and just like the Crabs & Critters class, students will get a chance to see, touch, and hold animals.  This is a good alternative if you opt not to take Crabs & Critters during the day. This class is available for groups of less than 85 students.

Sea Turtles

Class starts out with a broad introduction into the life cycle of a sea turtle, including common problems they face from the time they hatch to adulthood.  Sea turtles are occasionally found on Tybee Island during the nesting season and we are lucky enough to have a young sea turtle on-site.  Students are able to see our sea turtle up close and play games that simulate parts of a sea turtles life.

Shark Dissection

This class includes a short introduction to shark anatomy and their unique adaptations followed by hands-on dissection time.  Our staff closely monitors the students and guides them with step-by-step instructions and explanations.  Due to the nature of the class and the skills required, it is recommended that only students in grades 6 and higher participate.  There is an additional fee of $3.00 per student.

Squid Dissection

Through the squid dissection, students examine some of the unique features which have allowed squid to adapt and thrive in the oceans throughout the world.  This beginning dissection class will give students a hands-on experience to investigate the anatomy of squid and the various functions of its organs.

Suggestions for School Led Evening Activities

If school led activities require any Burton 4-H Center facilities or equipment, you must make this known on your class selection form.  If you are traveling off-site, you can arrangement your own transportation.  Burton can provide transportation off-site at the rate of $8.00 per person for off-Tybee and $3.00 per person for transportation on Tybee Island.

Free time at Beach

Walk your group to the beach located on 6th Street which is about ½ mile away from the Burton 4-H Center down one residential road.


Bring your own s’mores ingredients and we provide wood, matches, s'more sticks and a bucket of water to put out the fire. If you would like songs and skits provided by the Burton 4-H Center, you must choose this as an evening class.


This can be an easy option for evening entertainment or good backup plan.  Please inform us in advance to reserve an indoor space and DVD or VCR player.


You can do this on the basketball court or in the rec hall.  We have a sound system you can use.  Bring music (CDs) have a dance party.

Things to do in Savannah

  • Ghost Tour-Savannah is famous for their ghost tours.  Several different companies can take your students around on a trolley bus and tell interesting stories revealing the history of Savannah. 
  • Riverboat Cruise-Educational tours along the Savannah River provide a new way to see Savannah.  Meals and dance with DJ are also an option for a memorable evening.
  • Walking Tour-Discover the history and beauty of Savannah
  • River Street-No tour guide needed for this, just spending money.  River Street in historic Savannah is like nowhere else.  Walk the cobblestone streets, see the old dock buildings, watch a super ocean going cargo ship float right by and visit the fun tourist shops

Tybee Lighthouse Tour

The Tybee Lighthouse opens for groups for evening tours.  Cost is about $10.00 per person.  Contact them to make a reservation 912-786-5801.

To ensure a smooth evening, all equipment and facilities must be reserved on your class selection form.