The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Educators of Excellence Institutes provides first-hand experience in the natural world for outstanding educators from across the state. These programs provide knowledge about many ecological connections to the rest of the world, a passion for teaching, and new skills to use in the classroom. As a result, participating teachers return with improved science knowledge, skills and methodologies, improving STEM education for school children from across the state. The NC Museum of Natural Science provides special consideration to Kenan Fellows who apply to participate in the Educators of Excellence Institutes Program in Yellowstone and Belize. The Museum of Natural Sciences reported that 22 K-12 teachers participated in the experience from North Carolina along with 2 teachers from Belize as well as a faculty member from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh.
Through formal and informal educational experiences these teachers reached approximately 3,850 K-12 students and over 8,000 individuals in the broader public. Laura Cochrane participated in 2016, having had to delay her participation due to an injury in 2015. She participated as a Kenan Fellow in the Students Discover project and became one of the Museum’s outstanding representatives for teacher education. She was invited to meet with the evaluators from the American Alliance of Museums due to her deep understanding and appreciation of the Museum. Kenan Fellow Kayla Norville was also a Students Discover participant. She was chosen to participate in the Tropical Ecology Institute. Kayla stated “I have started the NC Outdoors after School Club at my former middle school. This is in total relation to the Educators of Excellence Program. The students are receiving experiences in which would have never occurred if I did not take part in the program, including a visit from NC Wildlife and the Museum.”