New Hanover County students return to barrier island through program

Holly Tree Elementary students taking part in Island Explorers Program on Oct. 14, 2021. (Photo:

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — says their explorer program is back in action after COVID-19 forced them to put things on halt. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve beach access to Masonboro Island. Through their Island Explorer Program, they are able to give New Hanover County fifth graders an opportunity to have hands-on learning experience at the barrier island, which is located just south of Wrightsville Beach.

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On Thursday, a group of students from Holly Tree Elementary School were the first to head back since fall 2019.

Tom Hackler with says they have trips planned with students through November.