The UNC Institute for the Environment is preparing elementary school teachers to develop creative and engaging methods of teaching children about science through an outreach program called ExPLORE NC (Experiencing Place-based Learning Outdoors in Rivers and Ecosystems of North Carolina). Following a rigorous selection process, fourth-and fifth-grade teachers participate in field retreats and webinars throughout the school year, all aimed at increasing teachers’ abilities and confidence in teaching science outdoors. This opportunity to apply knowledge and skills in new settings, with a supportive peer network, is a large part of what makes ExPLORE NC such a robust and helpful program. Experiential learning, for both the teachers and their students, is the most straightforward way to build relationships between people and nature.
Environmental Research VenturesSupport for multi-disciplinary collaboration among top experts is critical to take on ground-breaking higher-risk research into emerging environmental issues that need early data to establish traction. To achieve this we need to create an Environmental Venture Fund. The fund will also provide support for an innovation program to support emerging needs, tools and ideas that advance our mission across all areas of study, ultimately broadening our impact. In addition, this fund will support programming for the UNC Clean Tech Summit.
21st Century EducationWe will fund an endowment for an environmental scholarship fund to participate in field site education and international enrichment experiences at IE field sites in Morehead City, Highlands and Manteo, NC, the Galapagos and Thailand regardless of a student's need or major including support for expanded research experiences and internship opportunities.
Outreach and Public ServiceWe will support K-12 environmental science education programs to bring current environmental science with an experiential component to educators and communitybased organizations statewide. In addition, we continue to translate science into action by connecting research with improved public policy and community well-being.
Our MissionResearch: To strengthen our cross-campus environmental research capacity by supporting a multi-disciplinary community of scholars that enhances collaboration, increases sharing of knowledge, and identifies solutions to the world’s critical environmental problems. Education: To work in partnership across UNC and with external partners to coordinate and deliver 21st century educational programs that provide students with the experience and skills to thrive in a growing global economy. Outreach: To engage and serve communities in North Carolina and around the world by putting new environmental knowledge into action.
Critical ResearchFirst and foremost, we must continue to push the boundaries of research in areas that represent our core strengths, such as air quality and water management, and affect the most lives worldwide. We will implement semester-long research projects, pairing scholars with undergraduate and graduate students to deliver environmental solutions that beneﬁt populations worldwide.
“This generous gift allows us to invest in the next generation of leaders in the environmental realm by funding transformational professional experiences for Carolina undergraduates,” says Michael Piehler, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment.
“Michael Piehler’s childhood inspired him to pursue his life’s work in restoring ecosystems in need.”
“I wanted an opportunity to get more hands-on experience and physical involvement in what I’m learning in a typical classroom setting."