Project EXPLORE and Outdoor Wonders and Learning (OWL) are two programs that are fulfilling the mission to “creatively connect people, plants, and places through education…”. Project EXPLORE is a mini-grant/stipend program to help classroom teachers dive into Community Science Projects at their school, and to align them with grade level standards. Outdoor Wonders and Learning is a K-5 curriculum guide and workshop that introduces Environmental Education activities that meet grade level standards. The 2020 launch of these programs was delayed due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to a retooling and rethinking of strategies in order to ensure the Arboretum could continue to expand these programs.

Instead of the planned week-long in person training, Project EXPLORE has hosted six monthly virtual coach trainings since December 2020. Although the format was different than expected, the Project EXPLORE team worked to make these training events engaging and effective. The coaches are eager to put their skills into practice at schools this fall, as each will work with up to ten teachers in their local region. 

OWL completed its facilitator training over a long weekend with six educators from around the state, representing both the formal and informal sides of education. These facilitators are now able to offer workshops and staff training in their regions – and they are very excited to get started!