Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is Suncoast Youth Conservation Center?
The Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) is the educational hub of the Florida Conservation and Technology Center’s (FCTC) Center for Conservation located on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. Situated on a 20-acre campus with 6,000 feet of indoor and outdoor teaching space, SYCC shares the campus and shoreline with the Manatee Viewing Center, The Florida Aquarium, the University of Florida, and Tampa Electric Company. SYCC specializes in inshore fishing and paddling adventures, hosting immersive, educational field trips and family programs during the school year and week-long day camps in summer.
Can I fish here?

While there’s no public fishing here, you can schedule a fishing-focused field trip for your student group where they’ll learn about ethical angling at SYCC.

We also offer periodic fishing events open to the public! Email us to get added to our e-blasts that contain details of upcoming events.

What kind of fish are in the pond?

The pond is connected to the tidal creek through the saltmarsh, and we have documented more than 30 species of fish living here.  Common species include:

  • Snook
  • Red Drum
  • Black Drum
  • Ladyfish
  • Mullet
  • Killifish
  • Silver Perch
  • Hog Choker
  • Anchovies
  • Toad fish
  • Tilapia
  • Sheepshead
  • Mojarras
  • Gobies
What’s over that hill?
The other side of the hill on the west side of property is a large grassy area of about 40 acres. You can see a picture of what’s beyond the hill on the sign near the bridge leading to the Clean Energy Center.
Can I rent your kayaks and/or use your launch?
While ours is not a public kayak launch and we aren’t able to rent our gear, the waterways are open to the public. You can launch your kayak at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve and paddle through the mangrove trails. To paddle at SYCC, you must be with a scheduled field trip or event group through the Suncoast.
Can I keep the shells?
No, please leave the shells in place. They are pretty, but if everyone takes one we won’t have any left for the grounds and trails!
Is this pond freshwater or salt water?
Both! This 5-acre pond is brackish water, or a mixture of fresh and salt water. The only freshwater ponds on site are the ponds near the perimeter fences to collect stormwater runoff
Is the pond stocked?
No, the pond flows through the saltmarsh and tidal creek, and connects to Tampa Bay. Fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters, and other marine life can recruit and forage in our waters by navigating through buried culvert pipes.
Are there alligators or sharks here?
There are no alligators on our campus or in the surrounding waters. They like to live in and around freshwater, and this site is brackish so it is too salty for their liking. Sharks can be observed in the mangroves tunnels and brackish trails leading out to TECO’s observation tower and out to the bay. It’s typical to see bonnethead or juvenile bull sharks foraging for food near the roots of mangroves. We are lucky that sharks visit our waters because their presence means we have a healthy and balanced habitat! Remember, sharks are more scared of you than you are of them, and they should always be observed from a respectable distance.
How can I get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, click here to fill out our Volunteer Interest form.
When is SYCC’s facility open?

From November 1 – April 15, the entire FCTC campus from the Manatee Viewing Center south to our facility is open seven days a week. Hours of operation for the entire campus are 10 am to 5 pm, however the nature trails close at 4 pm.

Outside of the November 1 – April 15 season, SYCC is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm to serve students and campers scheduled for field trip and summer camp programs.

Is there a cost for your facility?

Like the Manatee Viewing Center, there is no fee associated with visiting the SYCC or our campus.

Field trip programming is offered at no cost; however, cost of transportation and lunch is the responsibility of the field trip or student group.

Summer day camps have a registration fee which is used to hire seasonal camp staff and purchase camp supplies. The cost in 2022 was $225-250 per child, per week, but tuition may increase from year to year.

Can I park at your facility?

Parking in the SYCC lot is reserved for vehicles attending field trips or other programs scheduled with SYCC staff or campus partners.

Parking during the months of November 1 – April 15 is located at the Manatee Viewing Center, or the overflow parking lot located on Dickman Road north of the SYCC facility.

What are all the other buildings onsite?
Suncoast Youth Conservation Center is part of a partnership between many different organizations working towards conservation. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is onsite with both the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center and a fish hatchery for rearing juvenile gamefish. The Florida Aquarium has the Sea Turtle rehabilitation Center and Coral Care Complex focusing on injured turtles and coral spawning, respectively. The University of Florida also has a lab here reproducing and researching long-spined sea urchins. This property is under the ownership of Tampa Electric Company (TECO), which supports the important missions we serve.
Is Suncoast Youth Conservation Center open to the public?
From November to March, Suncoast is open to the public seven days a week to match the hours of the TECO Manatee Viewing Center. From 10 AM to 4 PM, visitors can explore the campus and see firsthand the important work being done here by Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC), the Florida Aquarium, and the University of Florida.
Are SYCC's programs accessible to those with disabilities?
Yes! SYCC is an ADA-compliant facility. Additionally, staff does everything in their power and skill sets to make the site’s programming available for everyone. If you have a special need or are curious if this facility is for you, please give us a call!

Summer Camp

Do you have summer camps?
Yes! SYCC is a nationally-accredited summer camp facility through the American Camp Association. We host day camps from June to August. Online camp registration starts February 1st and camp spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. Camp serves students grades 3 through 11, and eligibility is determined by the grade of your camper on February 1st. The cost is $225-250 per child per week. To learn more about SYCC’s summer day camp, click here.

Field Trips

How do I schedule a field trip?

You may schedule field trips by emailing suncoast@myfwc.com. Find more information on field trips and curricula at the links below. All field trips programs are matched to Florida state educational standards and focus on "Creating the Next Generation That Cares™" by introducing and improving skills in paddling, fishing, and wildlife discovery.

Field Trips for 3rd - 5th graders

Field Trips for 6th - 8th graders

Field Trips for 9th - 12th graders

How much does field trip/student group programming cost?

Field trip programming is free! Field trip groups will need to cover the cost of transportation and provide lunch. Lessons and supplies are provided by SYCC staff for groups grades 3 through 12.

SYCC also offers quarterly free youth and family events to the community, usually a fishing clinic or kayak adventure program.

Our summer day camps have a registration fee which is used to hire seasonal camp staff and purchase camp supplies.


Suncoast Youth Conservation Center
6650 Dickman Rd. | Apollo Beach, FL 33572
813-922-7969 | suncoast@myfwc.com
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