About the Program
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences created the Educators of Excellence Institutes to enable exemplary educators to:
- Experience the natural world in selected outstanding environments;
- Increase the use of reflection and direct environmental experience in teaching;
- Become inspired and recommitted to the teaching profession;
- Become a part of a statewide network of exceptional educators for continued support and learning.
Since 1987, educators from across North Carolina have been inspired by their experiences in outstanding natural areas such as Belize, Ecuador, and Yellowstone National Park. The Institutes are available at low cost because of the support from the Friends of the Museum’s Educators of Excellence Fund.
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- Experience one of North America’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
- Observe world-class geological wonders.
- Learn about the history and management of America’s first national park.
- Learn from scientists and experts.
Participating educators will study and experience the wonders of our first national park. Join us from sunrise to sunset as we observe the incredible wildlife of Yellowstone, including bears, bison, wolves and elk. Learn about the area’s unique geology while exploring the amazing world of geysers, hot springs and mudpots. Enjoy the magnificent scenery of the northern Rocky Mountains as we hike trails throughout the park. The daily program will include field experiences, opportunities to meet with park staff and other experts, and activities designed to help integrate your experiences into the classroom. Discover strategies for exploring the connections between Yellowstone and North Carolina — wolf and elk reintroduction, fire ecology, resource management issues and much more. Students can follow along and ask questions as we post daily blogs from the field.
Dates: June 13-22, 2024 (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on March 9 and November 2, 2024.)
Locations: Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming and Raleigh, N.C.
Group Size: Limited to 12 participants.
Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous including walking and hiking (up to 5 miles) on uneven terrain at high altitudes.
Cost: $1000 (Includes supplies; round-trip airfare from Raleigh to Bozeman, MT; all ground transportation; instruction and lodging.) Participants will be responsible for travel to and from Raleigh, expenses in Raleigh during pre- and post-trip sessions, and most meals in Yellowstone. Many participants receive funding from their local civic or professional organizations.
- Immerse yourself in the wilds of western North Carolina
- Hike to waterfalls and balds
- Snorkel a mountain stream
- Sleep under the stars
- Learn from scientists and experts
Participating educators will study and experience the wonders of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Join us as we traverse the Blue Ridge Parkway from Cherry Lane to Cherokee, exploring the wonders of this incredibly biodiverse region of North Carolina. Learn from scientists and other experts about the ecology, geology, history, and culture of the Blue Ridge. Connect with nature, gain experience in outdoor leadership, and build camaraderie with other outstanding educators as we camp at multiple sites during our adventure. Discover strategies for bringing the natural history of North Carolina to life in your classroom. During the trip, participants will provide daily updates to students in North Carolina via a blog.
Dates: July 14-22, 2024 (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on March 16 and November 2, 2024.)
Locations: Multiple sites in western North Carolina and Raleigh, NC.
Group Size: Limited to 9 participants.
Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous activity including camping most nights, walking and hiking on uneven terrain (up to 5 miles), and swimming and snorkeling in cold mountain streams.
Cost: $400 (Includes campsites and lodging, most meals, instruction, and supporting materials.) The Museum can lend most camping gear if you do not have your own.
The application window for the 2024 Yellowstone in Winter Institute has passed.
- Observe winter wildlife at dusk and dawn
- Experience steam and ice in geothermal basins
- Snowshoe beneath snow-capped mountains
- Travel into the Park’s interior aboard a snowcoach
Participating educators will experience the magic of Yellowstone National Park in its harshest and quietest season. Learn about the adaptations of Yellowstone’s wildlife to survive the bottleneck of winter. Experience the Park’s unique geothermal features as cold air turns steam to rime ice. Take in the white-cloaked mountains while snowshoeing through snowy meadows. Notice the many critters that roam the Park as they leave tracks in the snow. The daily program will include morning and evening wildlife watching, interactions with scientists and local experts, and an overnight snowcoach journey to Old Faithful. Discover strategies for teaching about winter weather, wildlife, geology, and the conservation of wild places. Students can follow along and ask questions as we post daily blogs from the field. Return to the classroom refreshed and full of new ideas for bringing natural science to life.
Dates: January 10-15, 2024 (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on December 2, 2023 and November 2, 2024.)
Locations: Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming and Raleigh, N.C.
Group Size: Limited to 10 participants.
Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous including walking and hiking on uneven terrain at high altitudes in cold conditions.
Cost: $1000 (Includes supplies; round-trip airfare from Raleigh to Bozeman, MT; all ground transportation; snowcoach tour to Old Faithful instruction; some meals; and lodging.) Participants will be responsible for travel to and from Raleigh, expenses in Raleigh during pre- and post-trip sessions, and some meals in Yellowstone. Many participants receive funding from their local civic or professional organizations.
REQUIREMENTS AND APPLICATIONS
Who’s Eligible: Classroom teachers of all subject areas, school administrators, informal educators and university professors who work with teachers.
Qualifications: All applicants must currently be working as full-time educators in North Carolina and must expect to continue working in or with North Carolina schools during the following school year. Applicants must have at least three years of teaching/supervising experience. Applicants should demonstrate an interest in the natural sciences and be willing to use and support innovative teaching methods in the classroom and on field trips. All participants should be prepared for moderately strenuous activity.
Requirements: After the trip, participants must develop an educational project incorporating their experience from the Institute. Projects will be presented at the post-trip meeting in November. Participants are encouraged to share their projects at meetings or conferences of professional organizations.
Selection: The Museum strives to achieve statewide representation from diverse backgrounds and a range of grade levels. Preference is given to educators who show evidence of institutional support, flexibility and a tendency to be active group participants.
Credit: Institutes may be approved for renewal credits by local school districts. Participants receive a certificate of course completion for the number of instructional hours. Participants can also receive credit for the NC Environmental Education Certification Program (more information at www.eenorthcarolina.org).
Health and Safety Precautions: All in-person programs will follow current state and federal health guidelines and apply a range of safety measures to mitigate health risks.
Financial Support: The cost of all Educators of Excellence Institutes is reduced thanks to generous support from the Goodnight Educational Foundation through the Educators of Excellence Fund. Participant fees reflect about one third of the total cost of the Institute. Educators from public schools in many eastern NC counties are eligible for additional support through the Simple Gifts Scholarship, which is generously supported by the Anonymous Trust. We do not want cost to be a barrier for any educator. If the cost of the Institute would prevent your participation, and you do not qualify for the Simple Gifts Scholarship, please reach out to Melissa Dowland. Additionally, many participants receive financial support from their schools and/or local civic or professional organizations; contact your local district office for information on grants and scholarships.
The Simple Gifts Scholarship is provided through the generous support of the Simple Gifts Fund and the Anonymous Trust, which strives to enrich and improve the lives of motivated, rural Eastern NC teachers and their students. The Simple Gifts Fund seeks to provide scholarships to teachers who recognize the value of inquiry, who understand the power of knowledge and who appreciate the importance of inspiring excellence in their students. Applicants who are chosen to participate in the one of the 2024 Educators of Excellence Institutes, and meet the following criteria, will be eligible for a full scholarship covering the cost of the experience. Once selected, applicants will be responsible for paying a $200 deposit that will be returned to them upon successful completion of the program.
To be considered for the Simple Gifts Scholarship, applicants must:
- Have not previously received the Simple Gifts Scholarship for the Educators of Excellence program;
- Be a teacher, guidance counselor, media coordinator or assistant principal in a public school, in one of the following counties:
Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Chowan, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northhampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Vance, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson
- Plan to continue working in their current school system and county during the following school year.
Application Forms: Applications and recommendations for Summer 2024 Institutes must be received by Monday, January 22, 2024 in order to be considered.