The Wal-mart Foundation recently provided the NC Museum of Natural Sciences with $50,000 to support environmental education programs at Prairie Ridge , the Museum’s 40-acre outdoor education center located off Reedy Creek Road in west Raleigh. These programs include:
- Girls in Science , a program for 6th grade girls that provides mentorship from female scientists as they work together to conduct water monitoring studies and learn about pollutants and ways to reduce them.
- Museum in Communities, which introduces families and groups with special needs to the natural sciences by providing encounters with living animals, plants and other specimens at community libraries and centers in rural and inner-city neighborhoods in all 100 NC counties.
- Using The Outdoors to Teach Experiential Science  (UTOTES), a six-session program that gives educators in underserved communities innovative strategies for using their school grounds as a resource for teaching applied environmental science.
- Teacher Workshops  that introduce educators to new ways of teaching students about the environment and how to safeguard our state’s natural resources.
As part of the grant, the Museum also received funds to purchase a wind turbine and interpretive signage to explain “green” energy alternatives demonstrated at Prairie Ridge. The turbine will be installed at Prairie Ridge by September 2010.
“Programming at Prairie Ridge and at off-site community locations pique the interests of our community in learning about the environment,” says Mary Ann Brittain, director of Prairie Ridge. “This grant will go a long way in helping us deliver these programs and inspire their participants to become environmental champions and perhaps even future scientists.”