“The Arboretum educators do an outstanding job with initial and follow-up lessons related to the project. They are knowledgeable, accessible, and enthusiastic. The programs they offer make a wonderful difference in childrens’ (and adults’) lives!”
— Project EXPLORE Teacher
Who is eligible?
- Classroom teachers and school educators in various NC counties.
- Available for all grade levels, Pre-K through 12th grade.
Project EXPLORE (Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education) helps teachers utilize outdoor spaces at their school to engage preK-12th grade students in curriculum based learning activities.
Since its launch in 2013, Project EXPLORE has served over 130 teachers and 7700 students in 21 different counties.
We take a “teach the teacher” approach so that teachers gain the training and experience necessary to sustain their outdoor education efforts in subsequent years.
How to Participate
Apply for the Mini Grant
Get access to the NC Arboretum Curriculum and receive two free guided lessons at your school
Receive access to teacher-submitted lesson plans and share your own lesson plans
Become a Project EXPLORE Graduate after 2 years of participation
Teacher’s Commitment and Certification
Teachers commit to taking their students outside for at least 15 minutes a week to collect data and submit observations to one or more citizen science projects, including Nature’s Notebook, Project Squirrel, and Project eBird.
At years end, students will have the opportunity to present their data in various settings. Teachers also receive a small grant award to purchase materials and can borrow field equipment to borrow for the school year.
To receive an EXPLORE certificate of completion, teachers must participate in Project EXPLORE for at least two years. At that point they are awarded a class set of binoculars, field guides, and a detailed copy of our program curriculum. They have the option to participate up to three years in order to continue strengthening ideas and approaches from the initial introductory lesson.
Participants are selected based on an application process.