Project Explore (Experience Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education) is a free, citizen science-driven school outreach initiative developed by The North Carolina Arboretum. Over the past five years, the program has reached more than 120 teachers and 6,700 students through engaging environmental education and monitoring practices at students’ own schoolyards. Click here to visit program website

Master new ways of teaching and facilitate student engagement and learning

Aerin W. Benavides, Ph.D. Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro


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 lead a discussion and wrap-up activity incorporating the N.C. Standard Course of Study with students in the spring. Teachers also receive a small grant award to purchase materials and borrow field equipment for the school year.

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

  • Tree Phenology
  • Squirrel Population Density
  • Bird Population Occurrence

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

Applications are due in early August and can be found here.

Teachers wishing to learn more about Project EXPLORE, can contact Trudie Henninger, Citizen Science Coordinator, at or 828-665-2492, ext. 625.

For more information visit our website at

North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Grants $1 Million to Expand The North Carolina Arboretum’s Youth Education Programs Statewide

Thanks to a generous grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, The North Carolina Arboretum will expand its three K-12 project-based outdoor education programs, Project EXPLORE, ecoEXPLORE and OWL (Outdoor Wonders and Learning), to all 100 North Carolina counties over the next five years.