museum projects & outreach

Core Sound’s community work only begins at the facility on Harkers Island.  The Heritage Center’s vision and impact can be found in classrooms up and down the coast, in community meetings along the Outer Banks, in university classrooms inland and as an online resource for oral histories, educational partnerships and sustainable economic development for coastal communities.

Core Sound’s projects and outreach programs envision coastal communities of eastern North Carolina in which culture, community, education, economy and the environment are fully integrated for a high quality of life for all residents.


Saltwater Connections

Saltwater Connections, a project of Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, is a collaboration of community members and organizations united by a shared common interest in building stronger communities along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway now and for the future. The collaborative crafts innovative projects that share and perpetuate the maritime culture of the region, encourage economic diversity, promote community health and wellness, and serve the needs of all residents.

Saltwater Connections, with funding and technical support from The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities Program, NC Rural Center, Z. Smith Reynolds, Outer Banks Community Foundation, Albemarle-Pamlico National Esturarine Project, National Park Service and others, has provided these projects to strengthen the cultural, economic and environmental connections of the coastal region.


Coastal Voices 

Coastal Voices is a community-led oral history project capturing the heritage of coastal North Carolina, sharing stories of people whose lives have been shaped by the maritime environment of Hatteras Island, Ocracoke, and Down East. As coastal North Carolina undergoes change, residents want to ensure that their community’s legacy of resiliency and strength is documented for future generations.

Coastal Voices is home to the Outer Banks Life Histories Collection & Outer Banks Community Life Collection. Outer Banks Life Histories collection provides public access to Outer Banks oral history interviews conducted between 1988 and 2004 for the Southern Oral History Project and the National Park Service Cape Hatteras National Seashore Ethnohistory Project.  Interviews from Ocracoke and Hatteras are digitized, catalogued and archived in online collection. The Outer Banks Community Life Project expands on the previous work of Outer Banks Life Histories to identify, research, and digitize video recordings from community events and family gatherings including storms, reunions, weather events and community history. These collections are supported by the Outer Banks Community Foundation. 


Port Light

The Port Light Project is an online exhibition that captures the rich history of the trade, civic, and kin connections that extended across the sounds of North Carolina from the Outer Banks to mainland ports. The project tell the story of the heyday of North Carolina's saltwater highway through 12 boats, including mail and freight boats, fish buy-boats, private ferries, and family sail skiffs. Through audio excerpts, photographs, written word, and an interactive map, the story of boat transportation and the economic and cultural connections relations between barrier island communities and mainland ports is interpreted.  The project is well suited for classroom use and provides suggested curriculum. This project was funded by the National Park Service Maritime Heritage Grant Program.


Harm’s Way 

In collaboration with Long Island Traditions, Core Sound is working to develop a comparative exhibition to examine and record traditional community perspectives on hurricane response and recovery.  Through oral histories (past and present), this exhibition will bring present stories that have been passed down from generations of storm-battered communities, telling their stories of resilience and adaptation. This online and in-house multi-media exhibition and outreach program will be completed by Fall of 2017 and is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Down East Community News

Down East’s first online newspaper highlights community happenings, events and issues important to Down East residents. From church news to school highlights, local fund-raisers and meeting announcements, DECN keeps Down East readers informed of their community’s accomplishments and needs.  Local stories, recipes and old photos are also included, reinforcing the sense of heritage that continues throughout Down East. 


Healthy Food Connections

Students and teachers at East Carteret High School in Beaufort and Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies in Buxton worked together during the 2015-2016 school year to build healthier local communities and economies.  Teachers shared curriculum resources while grant funds supported new equipment and field trip adventures to local seafood processing facilities to raise awareness of the connection between food and culture. The educational exchange was supported by a Creating New Economies Fund grant awarded by the Resourceful Communities Program at The Conservation Fund to Saltwater Connections, a regional collaborative, to support local foods education opportunities.



The new driving trails follow the 138-mile Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, beginning in Whalebone Junction on the Outer Banks Dare County, just south of Nags Head, and ending at the North River in Carteret County, just north of Beaufort. Each trail has a different theme.

The “Traditions, Trades and Treasures” trail highlights sites in working waterfront villages where visitors can learn about the area’s fishing heritage and traditional way of life. The “Land, Sea and Lighthouses” trail connects sites that played pivotal roles in the region’s history from early settlement through World War II. The “Marsh, Sound and Maritime Forest Discoveries” trail leads to outdoor recreation sites. The “From Dock to Table” trail highlights restaurants, shops and festivals featuring “N.C. Catch” seafood from North Carolinas’ coast. The N.C. Catch marketing program was developed by Saltwater Connections.


Down East Paddle Trails

For visitors who want to leave the land behind, the new Down East Paddle Trails network includes 16 kayak trails, ranging in length from 2.3 miles to 13.7 miles, in the coastal creeks, marshes, sounds and shoals of Carteret County’s remote Down East area, the southern arm of the National Scenic Byway.


Down East Heritage Tour

One of Core Sound’s first outreach projects to the local communities, the “Down East Virtual Tour” has collected and shared old photos, newspaper clippings and documents telling the stories of every community Down East. This website is currently being expanded and upgrading with hundreds more stories and images.  Please consider sharing your history by submitting photos, essays and memories to the Down East Heritage Tour.


Oyster House Gatherings

Oyster House Gatherings provide a small-group residential setting for artists, historians, photographers, carvers, birders, writers and researchers to explore our local resources – both cultural and natural while learning and expanding their own skills and interests. To learn more contact our Executive Director, Karen Amspacher