Adventure | Events

Charleston Collegiate Field Trip: Stewards of the Salt Marsh

Read more Charleston Collegiate’s story of their adventurous day at Kiawah River learning about salt marshes. Original post. Photo credit: Marni Rothschild

“How can we work together to be stewards of our salt marshes?”

This is the Essential Question that our 4th grade set out to answer for the final quarter of the school year, and they participated in some truly incredible experiences along the way.

Each year at CCS, the Lower School participates in “The Happening” – a four-day long, completely immersive educational experience focused on a specific theme. In its inaugural year, Under the Sea was the focus; while last year’s theme was The Farm. This year’s theme had a bit more variety for our different grades – Tracks and Pathways! You can read more about The Happening by clicking here.

Our 4th grade class chose to focus on the salt marsh as their topic, which included tracking patterns, animal migration, grasses, mud, and lots more. Mrs. Haynie and Mrs. Doyle, after seeing their students develop a true passion for the salt marsh, decided to extend their research through the end of the year and utilize their passion as the 4th Grade Exhibition topic.

For their 4th Grade Exhibition, each student picked a salt marsh animal to research and “adopt.” To present what they’d learned about the salt marsh ecosystem and their selected animal’s life cycle, they either wrote a fictional story or produced a movie with their creature as the main character. They also produced informational boards about how we can all care for our salt marshes, which are on display at the Johns Island Library this month!

Throughout their studies of the salt marsh, the 4th grade took several field trips including a tour through the salt marsh with Barrier Island Eco Tours, a trip to Bears Bluff Fisheries to see the North Atlantic sturgeon (one of the salt marsh’s rarest residents), and a trip to our neighbor, Kiawah River!

Kiawah River has been educating students, guests, friends, and families since 2000 – whether through field trips, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, camping, retreats, or just quests for knowledge. Discovery and learning are two of their prime directives. Kiawah River’s goals are very much in line with CCS’s – especially in terms of being environmental stewards! Kiawah River is an entity based on serving the community – every part of Johns Island effects another part of Johns Island, and  we all have to work together. Kiawah River’s goal in educating students or visitors is that they become better stewards of the land, and that their interest grows and becomes motivation to take care of this earth.

Candice Broyles and Jeff Snyder of Kiawah River hosted our students at Kiawah River, their culminating field trip to celebrate the end of their salt marsh study experience. Candice sent these students on a scavenger hunt where they searched for various plants and animals that live on the Kiawah River. They explored in the marsh where they found fiddler crabs, periwinkle snails, and lots of other marsh inhabitants. After studying marsh stewardship for 4th Grade Exhibition, students applied their learning to help safely clean litter from the marsh. They even saw some of their “adopted” salt marsh animals like snowy egrets, blue crabs, hermit crabs, periwinkle snails, amphipods, dolphins, and more!

They were then treated to a discussion from Stuart of Charleston Aquatics, an organization that grows and plants native marsh plants. They work closely with Kiawah River to restore their marsh shoreline. Stuart and Jeff (Kiawah River’s biologist) took our students on a tour of where they planted the grasses and explained why they planted the grass where they did. The students then enjoyed a picnic lunch and field games. They took a nature hike around the Jack Island trail and learned all about the different trees along the trail. Finally, they painted re-usable tote bags for students to take home! It was an incredible day full of adventure and the perfect tie-in to the 4th grade’s marsh study!

Candice and Jeff said of their experience with our 4th graders, “[Our favorite part of their visit was] hearing their questions! It was truly encouraging and inspiring to hear their projects they were working on, how they spoke of their findings and research. We loved finding the dead snake and being able to have a teachable moment authentically. One thing that really stood out was when the students all jumped into the marsh grass and pluff mud to find trash or lost items to properly dispose of. Such an incredible testament to their hearts for conservation and taking care of our land.”

Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. Haynie were thrilled with their Kiawah River field trip. Mrs. Doyle said, “[This field trip was] the perfect capstone not only for exhibition, but for the year in general because Kiawah River rolled out the red carpet for us and made it an educational and fun bonding field trip! The students absolutely loved being in that beautiful natural setting all day. They’ve become VERY passionate about being stewards to the salt marsh, and getting to share their passions with Kiawah River was incredible.”

Kiawah River welcomes the opportunity to support deeper learning of our preservation and sustainable movements. Kiawah River is always open 9-5pm for tours for those interested in moving to Kiawah River and becoming a part of the community! Contact Candice Broyles at for more information.

CCS is very grateful to have so many educational opportunities on beautiful Johns Island. Our 30-acre campus and our welcoming neighbors like Kiawah River give our CCS families a unique opportunity to truly become environmental stewards, just like our 4th graders!

About Charleston Collegiate School: Charleston Collegiate School’s mission is to inspire students to become passionate, lifelong learners by empowering them with knowledge, creativity, curiosity, and confidence to mindfully embrace the opportunities of tomorrow.  Charleston Collegiate’s philosophy for educating well-rounded citizens is to actively engage them in experiences to prepare them for success in today’s world.

Our educational philosophy rests on our Four Pillars of Education: Project-based Learning, Creativity and the Arts, Leadership through Outdoor Education, and Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship.

Nestled under grand, moss-laden live oaks, Charleston Collegiate School offers a thirty-acre campus of vast playing fields and wooded trails.

Located only twenty minutes from Charleston’s historic district on one side and Kiawah Island on the other, the school stands in the middle of the rural beauty of Johns Island. Because of its unique location and its diversified population, Charleston Collegiate attracts students from far-reaching areas such as Daniel Island, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, the Isle of Palms, and Summerville.

The Charleston Collegiate environment values creativity, compassion for others, a passion for learning, and vibrant diversity. Charleston Collegiate School is the only co-educational, nonsectarian, preschool through 12th grade, independent school in the metropolitan area and is fully accredited.  It is organized as a Lower School (PS-4), Middle School (5-8), and Upper School (9-12).

Charleston Collegiate is now accepting applications for enrollment. Visit or email Admission Director, Ashley Mulkey, at to learn more.

About Kiawah River: Just 15 miles from Charleston and across the river from Kiawah Island, farm fields and pastures greet you upon arrival.

Kiawah River’s maritime forests and riverfront are well-suited for tree houses and bay boats. Cottages are painted in a wash of white. Paths lacing out toward the oyster beds and the saltwater river are remarkably unspoiled. Here, shared greenspaces and trails through the palmetto and oak tree scenery are a gift to everyone who will live and gather at Kiawah River.

Hope Chapel and The Hall will soon host weddings and community celebrations. Jack Island Village will be welcoming guests to the lodge, along with the health and swim club, the riverfront restaurant, and the pier. A boating and adventure center with Coastal Expeditions will help guests get on the water—with fishing gear or without—to better float into the sea island ease.

It’s all happening here. On a saltwater riverside, a village begins.

There is not a lot of habitat like ours in South Carolina, much less in Charleston. The Beach Company has the focus of “legacy” with this project and wants to build not only a community, but a healthy ecosystem that sustains for years to come. Building intentionally with the mindset of protecting our natural habitats that continue to support incredible wildlife here at Kiawah River.  We are home to many species of plant and animal, some even endangered that are our under our care and protection. We have two active eagle nests, that stand as a testament to our commitment to be good stewards of this land, ensuring the health of our ecosystems. Outside of being home to many beautiful natural areas, we are actively working to have partnerships with nature organizations (such as Clemson School of Plant Pathology) to treat and cure and eventually prevent tree diseases, all the more sustaining life and growth at Kiawah River. Our mindset is the future. “To infinity and beyond.”