What Is ecoEXPLORE?

Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education (ecoEXPLORE) is an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8 who reside in western North Carolina. This innovative pilot program, developed by The North Carolina Arboretum, combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology to foster a fun learning environment for children and encourages them to explore the outdoors and become a citizen scientist.


What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science encourages volunteers of any age to collect and submit scientific information to scientists, which will assist in their research and data analysis. Scientists around the world need help collecting data. By becoming a citizen scientist, participants can help professional scientists understand changes in the environment and see how these changes impact plants, animals and other natural resources.




Be sure to include your username, what you saw, where you saw it and when you saw it.

Be sure to include your username, what you saw, where you saw it and when you saw it.


1. Join ecoEXPLORE

2. See it. It Snap It. Share It.

SEE IT: Check out your own backyard, a local park or trail, or check out one of our ecoEXPLORE Hotspots to find plants and animals.

SNAP IT: Take a photo of what you find.

SHARE IT: Send your photo to and include when and where you found it. Also, tell us what you think it is. Check out the image to the right to see how.

  • Subject line of email: Your Username, Date. Example: DragonflyDana, August 1, 2016.  
  • Body of email: Name of plant or animal, Location. Example: Spotted Salamander, The NC Arboretum.  

High quality observations will be posted online at for use by REAL scientists! View observations from ecoEXPLORERS by viewing the ecoEXPLORE Project on iNaturalist.







A number of partners and collaborators participate in ecoEXPLORE, an initiative of The North Carolina Arboretum. These include:

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund

Buncombe County Public Library System

Madison County Public Library and Botanical Garden

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Buncombe County Schools

Audubon North Carolina

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society

The HERP Project

 Wild Birds Unlimited of Asheville and Hendersonville

 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina

The Compleat Naturalist

AmeriCorps Project Conserve

Monarch Rescue

Kudzu Brands

BB Barns Garden Company

Looking for more information about ecoEXPLORE?

need help registering?

Contact us at:


Email:         Phone: (828) 665-2492         Fax: (828) 665-2371



ecoEXPLORE Program Staff

Jonathan Marchal, Program Manager. Follow on iNaturalist: jmarchal

Trudie Henninger, Citizen Science Coordinator. Follow on iNaturalist: heartsabustin

Libbie Dobbs, Citizen Science Specialist. Follow on iNaturalist: libbie2

Ericka Hincke, AmeriCorps Citizen Science Specialist.