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Geoscience Teaching Outdoors in NC (GET OUTdoors in NC) is a free, year-long teacher fellowship designed to engage middle and high school STEM teachers in hands-on, inquiry-based activities to support student learning about earth and environmental science.

Through field experiences, classroom-based activities and webinars, participants will:

  • investigate climate impacts on eastern NC ecosystems and communities;
  • explore new technologies and engineering practices used to develop solutions to these challenges,
  • interact with geoscience researchers, industry professionals and environmental educators; and
  • discover new ways to incorporate current science content into their classrooms.

Our goal is to help teachers spark diverse students’ interest in geoscience career pathways by incorporating authentic, real-world and field-based experiences in their teaching. Teachers will gain first-hand experience outdoors in the natural systems of eastern North Carolina as they participate in activities designed to boost knowledge of and confidence in using inquiry and place-based approaches to support student learning of earth/environmental science concepts.

collecting soil samples

Participating teachers will also be encouraged to develop a geo-STEM lesson plan that incorporates outdoor instruction and pilot it with high school youth during the 2021-22 academic year.

Content and activities are aligned with the NC Essential Standards for Earth/Environmental Science, 6th-8th grade Science and AP Environmental Science and integrate science and engineering practices outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.

This program is offered by the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment’s Center for Public Engagement with Science in partnership with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences at Greenville and Contentnea Creek, North Carolina State Parks, and Martin County Schools.


Open to middle or high school public, private or charter school STEM teachers in North Carolina. Should the application process become competitive, priority given to teachers currently teaching at schools in eastern NC, particularly State Board of Education’s Northeast District 1 and teachers in Tier 1 counties. Teams of teachers are welcome to apply from an individual school.

looking at water samples

Program Components

Each GET Outdoors in NC teacher will be expected to participate in the following activities that will take place during this year-long program:

Summer Institute

June 14-16, 2021 | NC Museum of Natural Sciences at Contentnea Creek and Goose Creek State Park
Meals and lodging provided.

Weekend Retreats

Participants are required to attend at least one weekend science immersion experience, and are welcome to attend both. Meals and lodging provided.

  • Fall Weekend: September 25-26, 2021 | UNC Outer Banks Field Site, Coastal Studies Institute, Manteo, NC
  • Spring Weekend: March 26-27, 2022 | UNC Morehead City Field Site, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC

Online Professional Learning Community

Teachers will be expected to actively participate in an online professional learning community with at least 3 virtual meetings per year to support classroom application of program resources and materials and offer peer support in incorporating program experiences into instruction.

Celebration of Geo-STEM Learning

Spring 2022, date TBD

GET Outdoors in NC teachers will receive:

  • Authentic experiential learning opportunities designed to enrich knowledge of eastern North Carolina’s ecosystems, geography, and environmental history and enhance skills in using the outdoors for instruction.
  • Exposure to current geoscience issues and careers through interaction with research scientists, industry professionals and nonformal environmental educators.
  • Access to a peer learning network and current science content related to climate impacts and solutions.
  • Resources to support classroom integration of content and hands-on STEM investigations.
  • A stipend of up to $325 awarded on completion of key program components.
  • Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits and credit in the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program offered through the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.

Health and Safety Precautions

All in-person program components will follow current University, state and federal health guidelines and apply a range of safety measures to mitigate health risks, including:

  • Requiring properly worn face coverings
  • Physical distancing
  • Leading activities outdoors as much as possible
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Increasing sanitation efforts
  • If indoors, leaving doors and windows open to increase air exchange

Please note that in-person programs are subject to change, rescheduling or cancellation depending on COVID-19 restrictions. 


GET Outdoors in NC is not currently accepting applications.  Please check back in February 2022 when we anticipate recruiting for our 2022-23 cohort.


Sarah Yelton, GET Outdoors in NC Program Manager
UNC Institute for the Environment

This program is led by PI Dr. Kathleen Gray, Research Associate Professor in the UNC Institute for the Environment, and co-PI Dr. Mike Piehler, Director of the UNC Institute for the Environment and Professor in the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.

GET Outdoors in NC is funded with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) GEOPAths program (Grant # ICER-2023173).