ecoEXPLORE HotSpot Application Form
Thank you for your interest in adding your site to our network of family-friendly nature study sites! ecoEXPLORE is citizen science enrichment initiative of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the University of North Carolina System.

ecoEXPLORE HotSpots are accessible, safe and biodiverse locations selected for children ages 5-13 and their families to visit. Children are invited to photograph organisms and submit their observations to www.ecoexplore.net. High quality observations are added to iNaturalist.org, a joint initiative from the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Children earn up to five points per observation which are redeemed for prizes such as wildlife cameras, binoculars, field guides and insect nets. You can learn more by visiting www.ecoexplore.net or email ecoexplore@ncarboretum.org if you have any questions.

By hosting an ecoEXPLORE HotSpot on your site you will:

1) Strengthen your site's biological records. Observations are vetted and identified by professional scientists and volunteer naturalists who review, refine and add identifications to organisms submitted by families.

2) Increase attendance at your site. Our ecoEXPLORE participants earn bonus points when they make an observation at HotSpots, thus incentivizing visitation.

3) Increase attendance for your programs. HotSpots are eligible to submit their programming to the ecoEXPLORE website to be featured as "ecoEXPLORE Friends Programs", and ecoEXPLORERS earn additional points by reporting their participation in these programs.

4) Join a statewide effort to encourage families to spend time outdoors together while participating in real-life field ecology experiences. ecoEXPLORE participants can earn badges by making observations, attending programs at our growing network of ecoEXPLORE Hubs and joining research scientists in demonstrations of fieldwork. Research demonstrates that these types of experiences promote greater interest and enthusiasm for STEM fields among other benefits.

5) Receive annual reports on participation of ecoEXPLORERS visiting your site to make observations and self-reporting attendance at Friends Programs.


To be considered as one of the 1,000 HotSpots to be added to North Carolina please complete the following questionnaire.
Email address *
What is your name? *
Your answer
What is your role within the site's organization? *
Your answer
What is the name of the site you are proposing to be added as a ecoEXPLORE HotSpot? *
Your answer
What is the physical address of the site (not a PO Box)?
Your answer
What North Carolina County is this site in (if multiple, select the main county)? *
How much does it cost for a child to access this site? *
When is your site open to the public? *
Your answer
Does your site offer locations to view plants and wildlife that are wheelchair accessible?
Is your site accessible by public transportation?
Which of the following does your site contain?
What habitat features occur at your site?
Do you offer free public programming for youth and families at your site (aside from any admission or parking)?
What groups of wild organisms would a family expect to see at your site within a one-hour visit in the summer months?
In your opinion, what makes your site an ideal ecoEXPLORE HotSpot?
Your answer
Why do you wish to have your site host an ecoEXPLORE HotSpot? *
Your answer
What else would you like us to know about your site and/or organization?
Your answer
What is your organization's lead institution? For example, The North Carolina Arboretum's lead institution is the University of North Carolina System. *
Your answer
What is the website for your organization? *
Your answer
How did you hear about ecoEXPLORE?
Your answer
Funds are available from a grant by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to establish ten HotSpots in each of North Carolina's 100 counties. If accepted as one of the funded sites your site will be included on the Locations page of the ecoEXPLORE.net website. Your site will also receive an aluminum 12"x18" sign to be posted in a prominent location at your site (see below). The sign designates the location as a HotSpot, provides added exposure of the initiative to visitors and also features a QR code that leads to an iNaturalist.org webpage that displays previous observations of organisms found at the site. If selected, do you consent to ensure this sign is posted and maintained at such a location on your property?
Sample ecoEXPLORE HotSpot Sign
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