FIND Explorers Club

FREE, hands-on environmental education programs for underrepresented populations in Western North Carolina.

FIND Explorers Club

The community program, FIND Explorers Club at the Cradle of Forestry, offers environmental and outdoor education programs, free of charge, to underrepresented populations in WNC. We partner with nonprofits and recreation centers in Henderson, Transylvania, and Buncombe counties to deliver an enriching hands-on experience through after school programs, summer camps, and or field trips. With a focus on the ecology of southern Appalachia, our activities are designed to inspire strategies for protecting our natural world and generate positive attitudes toward the outdoors.

Indoor Nature Programs

Whether outdoor space is limited or it’s raining cats and dogs, FIND Explorers Club has a team of dynamic educators trained to create a hands-on learning environment indoors and out.

Guide showing teenager a snake

We have the ability to implement on-site programs that take place indoors while still enjoying aspects of the natural world. Learning indoors doesn’t have to feel like school! Our dedicated and highly trained staff are well equipped with games and activities to keep participants engaged and learning inside. Learning about the environment indoors is critical to make connections between the natural world and our day to day lives.

Outdoor Nature Programs

Our favorite classroom, the great outdoors, is an amazing way to directly involve participants in conservation work and help to forge an emotional connection with the natural world.​​

Under the guidance of professional guides and education specialists, participants are given the opportunity to explore their inheritance – the millions of acres of public land in WNC. 

We also have the ability to provide fun and engaging activities for participants with barriers to getting into the forest due to time constraints or transportation. We travel to you with a full toolbox of on-site activities that allow participants to get outside without traveling.

Outdoor and Environmental Education Activities

Here are a few descriptions of what we offer. These programs can take many forms and with so many different ways to learn about nature, it might be hard to know what will be a good fit for your group. If some or none of these activities suit your group, FIND Explorers Club will work with you to customize lessons and activities to meet the needs of your participants.

Man showing woman raptor

Live Animal Presentations

Our licensed wildlife rehabilitator gives thrilling demos with birds of prey, snakes, turtles, and even insects. Carlton Burke, of Carolina Mountain Naturalists, teaches participants about the role each animal has in our environment. With a focus on native animals, participants get a better understanding of the importance of conservation efforts in place for keeping these species healthy in the environment.

Nature hike at Brasstown Bald

Hikes and Field Trips to Public Lands

Participants get to explore different trails, streams, and geological features in the Pisgah National Forest, Blue Ridge Parkway, and DuPont State Forest under the guidance of our knowledgable professionals. Participants will learn about the ecology of the region, Leave No Trace principles, and navigation techniques. We also discuss what impact humans have on the environment and how to play a part in the conservation movement.

Child exploring water

Stream Exploration

Participants become scientists when they are taken to local rivers and streams to test water quality through sampling macro invertebrates, measuring pH levels, and examining the impact humans have on the land surrounding the waterfront. By learning the delicacy of these aquatic environments, participants can begin to connect what they learn to real-life problems and come up with action plans for protecting our rivers and streams.

Kid writing in journal while sitting on grass

Nature Journaling

We believe that creative expression with natural items or in a natural setting is significant in connecting with the environment. By crafting nature journals, participants can record their findings and reflect upon experiences through art, poetry, essay, or any other form of expression they feel moved to put onto paper. Not only does this give them time for reflection but also works on writing and artistic skills. We give participants the tools they need to construct pieces of art or simply express themselves by providing them with an inspiring setting.

girl and handmade craft

Nature Crafts

Allowing time for creative expression is an important piece of learning. We give participants the chance to create artwork with recycled materials, clay, natural items, and journals. All nature crafts come with an environmental and/ or conservation lesson attached. For example, making a nature journal is used for teaching about observation, identification, and data recording of the natural world.

Group of kids on mountain tops with their guides

Educational Activities and Games

Engaging participants through fun games can be a great vessel for learning. Our environmental educators are equipped with the knowledge and know how to teach about plants, animals, rivers and streams, geology, and the overall web of life through games. Games can be played indoors or out based on the space and topic and can be adapted to the physical and mental needs of your group. We offer everything from a tag game about animal adaptations to learning about the different ways birds use their beaks by using tools to test out their methods.

Citizen Science Projects

Did you know that you don’t need a PhD to be a scientist? Through online resources and training, our educators can teach participants how they can be a part of a global data collection project.

Currently, the citizen science projects we offer are: Celebrate Urban Birds, Project BudBurst (late winter, early spring), Great Backyard Bird Count (February), Habitat Network, and Project Feeder Watch. All of these projects can be done on-site and some can be done in the forest. By participating in these projects, your group will learn about everything from biodiversity to bird migration.

Kids exploring something on the forest floor

FIND Explorers Club partners with local nonprofits serving youth and adults with barriers to environmental and outdoor education programs. We strive to create a community and culture where this curriculum is available to all. We receive grant funding from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and our learning results are measured through various forms of evaluation.

Below is a list of basic criteria for receiving services from FIND Explorers Club. The barriers to environmental and outdoor education vary and we understand that every circumstance is different. If you feel that your group could use these services and does not fall under one of these categories, please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss the possibilities.

  • Organizations, day schools, and after school programs enrolled in child care subsidy programs.
  • Nonprofits, camps, after school programs, or other organizations working with subsidy based youth
  • Nonprofits, camps, after school programs, or other organizations who offer care to youth living in shelters
  • Nonprofits, camps, after school programs, or other organizations working in communities of color
  • Nonprofits or organizations who provide programming for people with different physical and mental abilities
  • Domestic and sexual violence prevention education groups
  • Women and girls empowerment groups

Interested in partnership opportunities?

Click ‘Partner With Us’ below and submit a contact form. To enhance the outdoor experiences our youth have, we welcome donations in monetary form, in-kind services, or material donation.

We couldn’t do it without the support from our community!

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