Project EXPLORE (Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education)

The North Carolina Arboretum is proud to announce the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation as its newest Community Partner. A grant of $25,000 has been awarded in support of the Youth Education Program of the Arboretum.

The Arboretum provides outreach and engagement through adult and youth education, exhibition, and demonstration that promotes leadership in environmental sustainability awareness and increased science literacy among residents of western North Carolina and beyond. The educational programs developed over the 25 years since the Arboretum’s inception have served as a model for excellence in institutional outreach resulting in positive educational and economic outcomes.

As part of its corporate giving program, GlaxoSmithKline’s Ribbon of Hope grant program seeks to provide a positive impact of the lives of North Carolina’s 100 counties. These grants support activities that advance education, science and health in local communities across the state. These grants are intended to offer organizations a one-time opportunity to expand or enhance existing programs or provide seed-funds for a new initiative.

The grant funds the Arboretum’s new youth education initiative, “Project EXPLORE: Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education”. As a result, over 4,000 students in Western North Carolina will be engaged in recording observations of birds, trees, salamanders, box turtles and a host of other plants and animals that call our biologically diverse region home. Teachers can invite Arboretum educators to their classrooms and schoolyards to begin real scientific data collection and inventory, and even submit their data to real biologists. Families can enjoy the Saturday programs offered at the Arboretum, where children will flip over rocks in search of salamanders, hike the trails in search of fall colors, and learn to identify birds by their songs.

The Mountain Science Expo, which began in April 2012, and is part of the statewide North Carolina Science Festival, will receive funding to bring in hands-on science activities and dynamic presenters. This event, attended by 1200 children and adults in its inaugural year, is expected to attract an even larger audience due to the partnership with the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation. The event also serves to provide awareness to the community about Project EXPLORE, and will feature posters and presentations by students who have engaged in their own original research.

Teachers, parents and youth organization leaders wishing to learn more about Project EXPLORE, which provides resources free of cost to all children of Western North Carolina, can contact Jonathan Marchal, Youth Education Manager, at or (828) 665-2492, ext. 228.