NEWBURYPORT — Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats at 1 Plum Island Turnpike offers youth and family activities featuring live beach and salt marsh creatures, amphibians, birds and insects through late summer.
For free hands-on learning for families with children ages 3 and older, “Meet Beach Creatures and More” is offered every Tuesday and Friday through Aug. 19, with timed entries of 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Each program is held outdoors and lasts 45 minutes. You will encounter live sea urchins, horseshoe crabs and moon snails, plus baby praying mantises, monarch caterpillars, toadlets, and other local critters that the Joppa Flats animal husbandry team is raising for release. Online preregistration is required.
Get in on one of today’s coolest new hobbies with another free program, “Summertime Birding,” every Friday through Aug. 19 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. for families with children ages 8 and older. Joppa Flats education interns lead an easy walk where one will see egrets and herons in the salt marsh, ducks and shorebirds along the river, and songbirds and hummingbirds at Joppa’s feeders. Online registration is required.
Also free is the “Beach Discovery” program at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, offered Thursdays under tents at Parking Lot 1, from 10 a.m. to noon, through Aug. 18. Everyone is welcome to stop by and check out live rocky shore and sandy beach creatures and learn about coastal birds. No preregistration required.
Families with children ages 6 to 11 are helping the Joppa Flats animal husbandry team feed crabs, snails, clams, minnows, mud whelks, horseshoe crabs and other creatures during “Feed the Beach Creatures” on Wednesday, 4 to 5:30 p.m., through Aug. 17.
And on Thursdays through Aug. 11 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., the same audience is invited to “Outdoor Ecology for Families” to learn about wildlife in salt marsh, pond, rocky shore and backyard habitats. Online preregistration is required for both.
• Ages 11 to 13 can train to become volunteer naturalists with teen naturalist training on Saturdays, Aug. 13 and 20, 1 to 4 p.m. Children with a passion for the natural world work with staff and other youths exploring local habitats, collecting organisms and data, and discussing environmental challenges such as sea level rise while learning teaching techniques. Online preregistration is required.
Mass Audubon protects the state’s natural treasures for wildlife and all people. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, it protects more than 40,000 acres with the support of 135,000-plus members and welcomes more than a half million visitors a year to its wildlife sanctuaries and nature centers.
Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center at One Plum Island Turnpike in Newburyport is a natural history education center open to the public and offers public and group programs. Call 978-462-9998 for information about additional programs and events, or visit the website at www.massaudubon.org.