top of page

Adult Education Classes



Wednesday, November 2: 4-6pm

Instructor: Rebecca Mensch, MS, Senior Marine Biologist, BMNSM

Southwest Florida, and Sanibel in particular, is the shelling capital of the country where shellers come from all over the world to enjoy the abundance of shells on local beaches. This course will cover where and when to shell, why Sanibel has such an abundance of shells, and how to identify and care for your shells. Students will also learn some of the most common and sought-after shells in the area. 

During the second half of this course, students will have the opportunity to see many live local mollusk species in the Museum’s Warm Water Touch Pool, and to touch the animals if they choose. 

Materials Needed: None

Requirements: None

Location: National Shell Museum

Cost: $50 ($40 for Museum Members)

Max Class Size: 25 Students 


Mound House sunset.jpg

Tuesday, November 8: 9:30-11:30am

Instructor: Rebecca Mensch, MS, Senior Marine Biologist, BMNSM, and Staff of the Mound House

The Mound House is a non-profit history museum dedicated to the interpretation of the Calusa. Located on top of a large Calusa Shell Mound, it is perfectly located to educate guests about Southwest Florida history prior to colonization.

Before entering the Mound House there will be ~30-minute talk on the local mollusk species that were important to the Calusa people. After this outdoor presentation, students take a guided tour of the Mound House led by Mound House staff. The tour will feature Mound House exhibits and hands-on learning such as the “Cool Calusa Tools” tour. Students will get a chance to use several of the common tools the Calusa used.

Materials Needed: None

Requirements: None

Location/Transportation: Meet at the Mound House, 451 Connecticut Street, Fort Myers Beach, FL  33931 (Do NOT Come to the Museum)

Cost: $65 ($50 for Museum Members) 

Max Class Size: 20 Students


Carly Aquarist.JPG

Wednesday, November 16: 1-3pm and Thursday, November 17: 8-10am

Instructor: Carly Hulse, Senior Aquarist, BMNSM

TWO SESSIONS - See what it takes to care for our live animal collection which includes more than 60 species of marine animals in nine aquariums, two touch pools, back-of-house systems, and nearly 10,000 gallons of saltwater. The first session will be classroom-style with topics including filtration types and stages, animal food preparation, water quality, and more. The second session will be hands-on in the aquarium. Join the morning rounds, learn how to start a siphon for a water change, see the complex filter equipment and how to clean it. After this class you will have a clearer idea of the complex operation of a large aquarium, system as well as the basics for starting your own. 


Materials Needed: Closed-toed, slip resistant shoes.


Requirements: None

Location: National Shell Museum

Cost: $80 ($65 for Museum Members) 

Max Class Size: 10 Students


Shell Ambassadors 2.jpg

Tuesday, November 29: 8:30am-5pm

Instructors: Dr. José Leal, Science Director and Curator, Rebecca Mensch, Senior Marine Biologist, and Marine Biologists Kelsey Hausmann and Jorden Falker, all of BMNSM 

This day-long certification course prepares students to become a Shell Ambassador volunteer for the Museum. Shell Ambassadors spend time on Sanibel beaches educating and engaging with beachgoers and fellow shellers. Topics are taught by various Museum Staff Members and include local shell identification, mollusk biology, dune plant and animal identification, Sanibel beach laws, tides, shelling, and identification of other beach finds. To successfully complete this course, students must pass tests on shell identification, beach identification, guidelines, and regulations.

The Museum provides pre-course study materials for the shell identification and beach identification tests. Students who do not pass all three tests on the day of the course may return to the Museum at their leisure to successfully complete the tests.

Materials Needed: Pen/pencil and notebook for taking notes and tests. Recommend Florida’s Living Beaches (available at a discounted price in the Museum Store).

Materials Provided: Pre-course study materials, shell bag, laminated shell guide, certificate of completion, official Shell Ambassador shirt (upon completion). Lunch and coffee are provided. 

Requirements: None

Location: National Shell Museum

Cost: $150 ($120 for Museum Members) 

Max Class Size: 14 Students


Lighthouse park 2 .jpg

Tuesday, December 13: 9:30am-12:30pm

Instructor: Rebecca Mensch, MS, Senior Marine Biologist, BMNSM

Experience what it’s like to be a Marine Biology student. The course will start with a 45-minute lecture at BMNSM on field logs and the ecology of Lighthouse Beach, followed by a two-hour “field lab” at Lighthouse Beach during a spectacular  -0.4ft low tide. Students will be taught key identifying features of plants and animals present that day at Lighthouse Beach, as well as how to keep a meaningful field log.
Materials Needed: Florida’s Living Beaches (available at a discounted price in the Museum Store before the class). *Students will have selection of pre-class readings from Florida’s Living Beaches*. The Museum will provide waterproof field notebooks. Students must bring their own mechanical pencil (no pens). Students must provide their own field-appropriate clothes (shoes, hat, jacket, poncho, etc.).
Requirements: Ability to walk in wet sand and very shallow water (several inches). This is a rain or shine class but will be rescheduled for dangerous weather.

Location: Meet at the National Shell Museum, then travel to Lighthouse Beach

Transportation: The Museum is able to provide transportation for 6 students from the Museum to Lighthouse Beach and back again. Carpool leaders will have parking paid for by the Museum.

Cost: $75 ($60 for Museum Members)

Max Class Size: 15 Students 

Please contact Rebecca Mensch with inquiries at

bottom of page