Workshops at Your School

Workshops at Your School

Hands-on learning opportunities abound right outside your classroom walls. Museum workshops at your school help you create areas for wildlife and learning that match your objectives and resources. For information, contact Melissa Dowland, Teacher Education Specialist, at 919.707.9898.

Using Your School Grounds as a Teaching Resource: A Teacher Education Program for K–12 Teachers

Kids in Butterfly Garden3 hours
Cost: $250
10–30 participants
Register at least four weeks in advance
Turn native plants and animals on your school grounds into educational resources. Then enhance your grounds to create a habitat for wildlife as you become more comfortable using the outdoors to teach all areas of the curriculum. Ask about special workshops on butterflies, wetlands and birds.

Creating Schoolyard Habitats

kids in front of the bird house they madeTwo 3-hour sessions at least four weeks apart
Cost: $600 (includes native plants, habitat enhancement features such as bird houses and other habitat-specific resources, and classroom materials such as student field guides). Fee is negotiable depending on the scale of the habitat feature.
10–30 participants
Register at least six weeks in advance.

Learn about the important features of a wildlife habitat and how to create one on your school grounds. Then design a habitat area and install it with the assistance of Museum staff. Students are welcome to participate in the installation portion of the program (second session). Topics include butterfly gardens, bird observation areas, wildflower gardens and school grounds wetlands. Other habitat features may be arranged on request.


Using The Outdoors to Teach Experiential Science is an exciting elementary teacher education project that demonstrates techniques for using school grounds as educational resources for hands-on learning. Since 1991, more than 4,200 educators at 199 selected sites across North Carolina have taken part in the UTOTES experience.

What Are UTOTES' Goals?

  • Promote positive attitudes of teachers and students toward living things.
  • Increase the use of the environment in teaching all subjects.
  • Develop site-based science leadership.
  • Highlight and enhance areas on your school grounds that can be used to
    teach science in the outdoors.

How Does UTOTES Work?

A group of 16 to 24 staff members at each school participates in the program. The year-long program includes six different teacher education workshops during the school year (including one for creating a wildlife habitat selected by the school). Topics may include: attracting butterflies and birds; identifying trees and wildflowers; observing and recording seasonal changes; exploring wetlands on school grounds; integrating the outdoors into curriculum; and creating nature journals.

Typical UTOTES Projects

Schools participating in UTOTES have created:

  • Butterfly Gardens
  • Mini-Ponds/Wetlands
  • Bird Feeding and Observation Areas
  • Native Plant Gardens
  • Classroom Nature Stations

Ideas for school grounds outdoor learning areas

Nature Neighborhood: Creating a Place for Wildlife and Learning [PDF, 5MB] NEW

What Are the Recommended Credits?

The workshop series is recommended for two hours of North Carolina renewal credit.

Cost of the UTOTES program

A fee of $1200 is payable to the Museum upon acceptance into UTOTES. This covers costs of materials given at each session and materials for creation of a selected habitat.

How Can Your School Participate?

To be considered for the 2014–2015 school year, please submit the three online application forms no later than April 25, 2014. Schools will be notified of the selections prior to the end of the 2013–2014 school year.

On What Are Selections Based?

  • Full commitment of the school administration and teaching faculty
    (between 16–24 participants)
  • Evidence of business, community and parental support
  • Participation of school administrator in all six workshops
  • Current use of or intent to implement an experiential science program

For information, contact Melissa Dowland, Teacher Education Specialist, at 919.707.9898.