Hatteras Island Ocean Center is managed by Hampden-Sydney College. The center is a result of great effort by the community. It provides experiential learning opportunities unique to North Carolina. It is a continuous partnership between the facility and Hampden-Sydney College. The facility aims to;

  • Work with the local community for projects and community outreach events. This provides a lot of opportunities for volunteers and students from the region.
  • Give students from Hampden-Sydney interdisciplinary experiential opportunities to learn.
  • Provide lead educational programs for students at H-SC. These show the significance of public history and wildlife conservation.


The governing board is made up of 3 elected members together with the three founding volunteers. The elected members are:

  1. Eric Kaplan – He is the founder of a successful local company. The company is Teledyne LeCroy Frontline. It is located in Charlottesville in the state of Virginia.
  2. Tim Midgett – He is the President of Midgett Realty. It is located in Hatteras in North Carolina. Midgett was the Chairman of the Dare County Tourism Board.
  3. Harriet Kaplan – She is the founder of the Peabody School in Charlottesville in the state of Virginia.

The founding volunteers contributed many hours to launching the Ocean Center. They are;

  1. Liz Browning Fox
  2. Jody Haller
  3. Rich Henneberry


There are different outdoor nature programs offered at Hatteras Island Ocean Center. Some of them include:

  1. Morning Kayak Nature Tour

This tour offers to explore wildlife in the salt marsh. Visitors are able to get close to diverse wildlife. They kayak through the winding wetlands and venture into the Pamlico Sound. Beginner kayakers are welcome. The tour costs $40 per person. It takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The tour is available from 10 am to 12 pm.

  1. Afternoon Kayak Nature Tour

This is the same tour as the Morning Kayak Nature Tour. The only difference is the time it takes place. It is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 pm to 4 pm. It also charges $40 per person.

  1. Turtle Patrol

For those interested in the life cycle of the local sea turtle species, this is the tour for you. It starts off with a brief presentation that hosts up to 9 individuals. Afterward, participants meet at the beach to see active sea turtle nests. You will also learn how the NPS helps to save endangered turtles. You will be shown the rehabilitation process done with the turtles. The tour costs $10 per person and is available from Monday to Friday at 11 am.

  1. Marsh Madness

Salt marshes are interesting and productive ecosystems on earth. There is one at Hatteras Island Ocean Center. Visitors are able to throw in a line and pull out some blue crabs. They discover different plants and animals living in the wetland. This tour is available on Thursdays and Fridays at 3 pm. It costs $5 per person.

  1. Birding the Barrier Islands

Bird enthusiasts will enjoy this fun program. They get to share birding skills and experiences with others. The Hatteras Island Ocean Center guides provide a fun adventure to teach key birding skills. They teach how to identify using field marks and calls. They also focus on different types of birds that you find in the Outer Banks. The tour takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 am to 9 am. Entrance is free for all.

  1. Campfires, Crabs, and Constellations

Participants get to sit around a bonfire to watch the sunset. The stargazing experience is exceptional. You learn more about the history of the Outer Banks, nighttime beach creatures, and the legends of the region. The skies are extremely dark on some nights. This tour is suitable for both children and adults. Some of the activities to be involved in include;

  • Eating s’mores
  • Searching for ghost crabs in the tide
  • Laying back under the stars

The tour is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. It costs $10 per person.

Turtle Sense

This is a program by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is aimed at providing better protection for sea turtles. It also offers improved beach access for people. It ensures the safety of sea turtle hatchlings. It also allows for more information on sea turtle biology.

Small sensors are placed in the nest to monitor motion. The sensors use mobile phone technology and send data regularly. The data is analyzed and used to predict the next time the hatchlings emerge.

Some of its benefits are:

  • Better protection of turtle hatchlings
  • Better understanding of sea turtle biology
  • Improved opportunities for visitors to see turtle nestlings. They witness the nest “ boiling” and as the hatchlings crawl into the water.
  • Shorter beach closure timeframes
  • Lower cost of nest management

Student and Volunteer Opportunities

Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a volunteer organization. It relies on members of the community being involved in its activities.

There are opportunities for those interested in helping at the center. They are involved in sharing the heritage and natural environment of the island. These people volunteer as docents, speakers and program instructors.

Other ways people can help include:
• Grant writing
• Construction
• Maintenance
• Fundraising
• Exhibit design

Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a small organization started by Hampden-Sydney College. It started to offer interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities for students. They would take part in service projects and experiential learning. It is useful in wildlife conservation and preserving the region’s public history. Students are able to volunteer at the center to gain more knowledge about their studies.

Hatteras Island Ocean Center is involved in various activities, mostly in education and conservation. The center provides new experiences for those with an adventurous spirit. There are numerous outdoor nature programs to learn something new. The tours are open to all and are guided by trained volunteers.

There are many educational and recreational activities to get involved in. There is also plenty of parking, and it is near Hatteras Village. The Ocean Center is a great location for visitors and residents to explore.

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