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

The Arboretum’s citizen science-driven school outreach initiative has reached over 95 teachers and 5,000 students over the past four years by engaging in environmental monitoring at the student’s own schoolyards.

Teachers conduct weekly field observations with their students on one of three projects:

  • Tree Phenology
  • Squirrel Population Density
  • Bird Population Occurrence

The Arboretum’s professional environmental educators provide modeling of outdoor education techniques for teachers as they guide students through an introductory lesson at the beginning of the school year, offer support to teachers as needed throughout the school year, and can lead a discussion and wrap-up activity incorporating the NC Standard Course of Study with students at years end. Teachers also receive a small grant award to purchase materials and borrow field equipment for the school year.

At years end, each class presents their data at the Arboretum’s annual Mountain Science Expo, an official expo of the NC Science Festival.

Project EXPLORE is a free donation-funded initiative sponsored by The North Carolina Arboretum Society.

Apply now for the 2018-19 school year! Applications are due August 24, 2018.

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 Trudie Henninger, Citizen Science Coordinator, at or 828-665-2492, ext. 277.