You can provide amazing educational opportunities for teachers when you join the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in celebrating the first annual Teacher Appreciation Month , February 2011. You might even win a kayak in the process.
For more than 20 years, dozens of science educators from across North Carolina have annually experienced the natural world like never before as participants in the Museum’s Educators of Excellence  Institutes. Last year, one group spent a week in Yellowstone National Park studying wildlife from gray wolves to grizzly bears, as well as the park’s unique geology. Another group traveled to Ecuador, South America, to experience and learn about Ecuadorian ecosystems and the people who live and work in them. A third group went to Belize, Central America, to learn about surprising similarities between the ecologies of the tropics and their own region of North Carolina. “These experiences have the power to change educators’ lives,” says Liz Baird, the Museum’s director of education. “Not only do the Institutes inspire and reward outstanding teachers, they also have a huge impact on how teachers teach and relate to their students.”
This year, you can support the Educators of Excellence program by entering a raffle. The prize is a Hurricane Santee 116 kayak and Aquabound paddle (provided by Great Outdoor Provision Co.), plus a guided day trip for four with a Museum naturalist (total value = $1,100). Tickets are $5 for one or $20 for five and are available at the Museum Store, local Great Outdoor Provision Co. shops and online at naturalsciences.org/museum-store/information-for-teachers/raffle . The winner will be selected and announced February 28. Teachers can also visit the Museum Store for information on special discounts and prize drawings available to them during February.
The Educators of Excellence Institutes aim to inform and empower educators to teach students about North Carolina’s ecological connections to the rest of the world. More than 300 outstanding North Carolina science educators have participated in Educators of Excellence programs since 1987, while more than 200,000 North Carolina children have learned from these teachers.