About the Institutes

2020 Educators of Excellence Institutes | Requirements and Applications

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.
This program changed my life and teaching direction.

3rd grade teacher, McDowell County

I wish all educators could experience this Institute – it would make all our schools a better place to teach and learn.

8th grade teacher, Burke County

Read daily journals from the Museum’s Institutes.

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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2020 Educators of Excellence Institutes

Applications and recommendations are due Monday, February 24, 2020.

Yellowstone Institute

  • Experience one of North America's greatest concentrations of wildlife.
  • Observe world-class geological wonders.
  • Learn the history of America's first national park.
  • Meet with educators and biologists.

Read daily journals from previous trips on the Yellowstone Institute blog.

Participating educators will study and experience the wonders of the world’s 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. During the trip, participants will provide daily updates to students in North Carolina via a blog.

Dates: June 15–24, 2020. (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on April 25 and November 7, 2020.)

Locations: Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming and Raleigh, NC.

Participants: Limited to 12–14.

Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous including walking and hiking 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.

Scholarship: The Clyde Wayne Quick Memorial Scholarship provides $500 in financial support for one participant in the Yellowstone Institute each year. Donated by his loving wife, who attended the Yellowstone Institute in 2007, this scholarship honors Clyde’s love of nature and concern for preservation of our public lands. Priority is given to public high school and middle school science teachers with demonstrated need, but any public school teacher is eligible for the scholarship. To be considered for this scholarship, please submit a written request to Melissa Dowland along with your program application.

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Tropical Ecology Institute

Join us as we:
  • Explore a tropical rainforest
  • Visit Mayan ruins
  • Canoe a tropical river
  • Snorkel on the reef

Participants will experience several tropical habitats, including coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and rain forests. The daily program will include practical field experiences, basic biological information, and easily duplicated techniques for teaching natural sciences. During the trip, participants will provide daily updates to students in North Carolina via a blog. This program is designed to give educators a direct experience with environments and concepts that are part of the classroom curriculum. Participants will spend time at a Belizean school interacting with teachers and students.

Dates: July 15–23, 2020. (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on May 2 and November 7, 2020.)

Locations: Belize, Central America and Raleigh, NC.

Participants: Limited to 12. (Note: Belizean teachers will join American educators to form an international team that shares teaching techniques.)

Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous, including walking/hiking in tropical (high heat/humidity) settings, canoeing and snorkeling.

Cost: $1,500 (includes supplies, round-trip airfare from Raleigh to Belize, instruction, lodging, and meals). Participants will be responsible for travel to and from the North Carolina airport, expenses in Raleigh during pre- and post-trip sessions, and personal expenses. Many participants receive financial support from their schools and/or local civic or professional organizations.

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Requirements and Applications

Who's Eligible: Classroom educators currently teaching in North Carolina, or administrators, environmental educators, and university professors who work with these teachers.

Qualifications: 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. Applicants should have at least three years of teaching/supervising experience and expect to continue working in or with North Carolina schools during the following school year. 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 such as the NC Science Teachers Association.

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 institutional hours. Participants can also receive credit for the NC Environmental Education Certification Program (more information at www.eenorthcarolina.org).

Financial Support: 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.

Scholarship Opportunities:

  • The Clyde Wayne Quick Memorial Scholarship provides $500 in financial support for one participant in the Yellowstone Institute each year. Donated by his loving wife, who attended the Yellowstone Institute in 2007, this scholarship honors Clyde’s love of nature and concern for preservation of our public lands. Priority is given to public high school and middle school science teachers with demonstrated need, but any public school teacher is eligible for the scholarship. To be considered for this scholarship, please submit a written request to Melissa Dowland along with your program application.

  • The Simple Gifts Scholarship is provided through the generous support of the Simple Gifts Fund, 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 2020 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:

    • 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, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northhampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson, Vance
    • Plan to continue working in their current school system and county during the following school year

Applications and recommendations are due Monday, February 24, 2020.

Educator Application
Supervisor Recommendation

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Staff