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During the summer 2016 program, participants will conduct place-based, inquiry-based research to explore the Haw River watershed alongside scientists, graduate students and environmental educators. Follow that Drop! will take place on June 20-24, 2016 from 9:00am-4:00pm. Students will meet on the campus of Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) in Pittsboro each day.

ERP_student with microscope
ERP_students canoeing
ERP_students in lab
ERP_Chowan River


Students will investigate the Haw River to learn about water pollution and solutions and the ways we rely on the river for electricity, drinking water, and recreation.  We will start in the northwest portion of the watershed and follow a raindrop as it flows downstream to Jordan Lake and eventually out to the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.  The week will be full of field trips, streamside activities and team building exercises and will conclude with a fishing experience at Jordan Lake and a canoeing trip on the Haw River.

This student science enrichment program is administered by the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment with funding provided by the Duke Energy Foundation.

How It Works

  • Sixteen students will be selected to participate in the 2016 program. This is a FREE program and acceptance is competitive.
  • Applicants will be selected for participation based on their self-reported interest in the program content as well as interest in science and/or mathematics, as indicated by their written responses to application questions and by the strength of their teacher recommendation.
  • Students should be in good physical condition and open to conducting activities in the outdoors.
  • The program will be based at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, NC.
  • Lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments will be provided.
  • Program staff will transport students on field trips and return to CCCC for parent pick up every afternoon by 4pm.
  • To encourage full participation, students will receive a $100 stipend for successfully completing the summer institute.


  • Current 6th and 7th  graders who live or go to school within 25 miles of Pittsboro, NC are eligible to apply.
  • Females and/or minorities under-represented* in STEM careers are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Students must have transportation to and from Central Carolina Community College every day.
  • Students should have an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
*These groups include females and students who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic American, Native Pacific Islander (Polynesian or Micronesian), and Native American (American Indian or Alaskan Native).
ERP_topo maps
ERP_boots in mud creek

How to Apply

2016 Program Brochure

The application deadline was 11:59 pm on Saturday, April 30, so we are no longer accepting student applications or teacher nominations.  All students who applied will be notified of their acceptance status by May 13 via email.

Program Contact

Grant Parkins, Watershed Education Coordinator | 919-966-9802

All ERP programs that include minors (individuals who are less than eighteen years of age) are registered by UNC Student Affairs and are in compliance with UNC’s Policy on the Protection of Minors. An annual background check is completed for all program staff annually.  Program staff is trained on polices and issues relevant to the protection of minors. Program staff is defined as the core group of individuals, paid or unpaid, who are responsible for program implementation, coordinating day-to-day logistics and maintaining safety and student behavior protocols to ensure a safe learning environment for all.  More information on this policy can be found here: