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Adult Education Classes
The Museum offers classes throughout the year. Stay tuned for the next series of classes to take place this fall. Previous classes included the following:


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Tuesday, January 30, 8:30am-5pm
This class prepares students to become a Museum Shell Ambassador volunteer and educate and engage with beachgoers and fellow shellers. Topics include local shell identification, mollusk biology, dune plant and animal identification, Sanibel beach laws, tides, and identification of other beach finds.
To become a Shell Ambassador, at the conclusion of the class students take a test on shell identification, beach identification, guidelines, and regulations. The Museum provides pre-course study materials for shell identification and beach identification. Students who do not pass the test on the day of the class may return to the Museum at their leisure to retake it.
Materials Needed: Pen/pencil and notebook
Materials Recommended: Florida’s Living Beaches by Blair and Dawn Witherington, available for sale in the Museum Store
Materials Provided: Pre-course study materials, laminated shell guide, Shell Ambassador certificate and official shirt (upon completion). Coffee, light breakfast, and lunch are provided.
Instructors: Dr. José H. Leal, Science Director and Curator; Jorden Falker, Associate Director of Education; Chris Whitt, Marine Biologist

Cost: $150 ($120 Museum Members). Coffee, light breakfast, and lunch included.


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Thursday, February 15, 10am-12pm
This class is a combination of lecture and hands-on learning. Students will become familiar with principles of natural history and biology of bivalves. There is a particular emphasis on soft parts and shell features that impact their classification and are used in their identification.  The presentation includes an overview of Southwest Florida species and how to identify them. 

Materials: The students may bring a few shells each for observation and identification.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites.

Cost: $50 ($40 Museum Members)


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Tuesday, February 27, 9:30am-3:30pm 

A Sailor’s Valentine is an intricate and historic art form based on using shells and other materials to create kaleidoscopic designs in octagonal boxes. With origins in early 19th century Barbados, the art of creating Sailor’s Valentines gained new popularity in the mid-20th century and continues today.
Participants will work with instructor Karen Irvine to craft their own original Sailor’s Valentine, learning the principles of this traditional shell-inspired art form and creating their own unique masterpiece!
Previous experience making Sailor’s Valentines is not required or expected.

Materials provided: Kits including Sailor’s Valentine boxes, shells, other materials, glue, and everything needed. Participants are welcome (but not required) to bring their own small shells to include, or items for a centerpiece. Lunch is included.
Instructor: Karen Irvine
Cost: $350 ($325 Museum Members), includes all materials and lunch. 


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Wednesday, March 6, 10am-12pm

This class includes one hour of presentation and one hour of discussion and hands-on learning. Students will learn how to photograph shells, both in nature and in a controlled environment, using cameras and equipment other than smart phones. Additional attention will be devoted to photography of small shells at home. Students will learn methods of shell photography applicable to documentation, collection curating, social media, and art.


Materials: This is not mandatory, but students are welcome bring their own photographic equipment and/or camera, and their own shells to photograph.


Prerequisites: A working knowledge of personal camera equipment and the most basic principles of photography.

Instructor: Dr. José H. Leal, Science Director and Curator

Cost: $50 ($40 Museum Members)


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Thursday, April 4, 8-10am
Join the Animal Husbandry team on their morning rounds and learn about food preparation and feeding, filtration, and water quality testing. After this class you’ll have a better understanding of the animals and the daily operation of a public aquarium.

Please note this class does not include direct interaction with the animals.

Materials Needed: Closed-toed, slip resistant shoes.

Instructors: Senior Aquarist Carly Hulse, Ambassador Animal Aquarist Claire D’Agostino

Cost: $50 ($40 Museum Members)

Please contact Jorden Falker with inquiries at

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