Since 1987 the Museum's Educator of Excellence Institutes have provided exceptional educators with staff development opportunities that transform the way they view and teach natural sciences. Educators from across North Carolina have been inspired by their experiences in outstanding natural areas such as Belize, Ecuador, and Yellowstone National Park. These workshops are subsidized by the Educators of Excellence Fund, which enables selected educators to experience the natural world firsthand.

Read daily journals from the Museum’s Institutes at

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

Admission to the Institutes is through a competitive application process. To apply, download the Application PDF, fill out your part of the form, save, and send to Melissa Dowland via mail (see page 2 of application for address) or email to

Educators of Excellence Institutes Application Form

Yellowstone National Park Institute

Dates: June 17–25, 2017 with an orientation at the Museum on Saturday, April 22, 2017

Location: Yellowstone National Park, WY and MT

Activity Level: Moderate to rigorous, including walking/hiking at high elevations

Cost: $950 (includes round-trip air travel between Raleigh and Bozeman, MT, all ground transportation, instruction, and lodging)

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 including bears, bison, wolves and elk. Learn about the area’s unique geothermal features and enjoy the magnificent scenery as we hike trails throughout the park. The daily program will include field experiences, opportunities to meet with park staff and local experts to discuss resource management issues, and activities to help bring these experiences into the classroom. Discover strategies for exploring the connections between Yellowstone and North Carolina (wolf and elk reintroduction, fire ecology, resource management issues in the parks, and much more).

Tropical Ecology Institute

Dates: July 25–August 1, 2017 (Mandatory pre- and post-trip sessions will be held in Raleigh on May 6 and November 4, 2017.)

Location: Belize, Central America and Raleigh, NC

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

Cost: $1,300 (includes supplies, round-trip air travel between Raleigh and Belize, all ground transportation, instruction, lodging and meals)

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. 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.