Did you know that the state insect is the honeybee and the state butterfly is the Eastern tiger swallowtail?
Find out more about these and other insects through the year-round, nature-focused ecoEXPLORE program available to kindergarteners through eighth graders through the Kill Devil Hills Library, North Carolina Arboretum and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education.
The free, incentive-based citizens science program introduces children and families to outdoor activities that encourage and facilitate learning about the outdoors and nature. Participants collect specimens from nature and take photos that they then upload to their ecoEXPLORE profile to earn badges and points that go toward winning prizes.
The year-round program is broken down into seasons, each looks at a different discipline such as botany, ornithology, herpetology and entomology. The program just finished its herpetology season and is now in the entomology season.
Participants can go outside in their own backyard or to designated ecoEXPLORE HotSpots in order to find different species of wildlife, including plants, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds. Once the wildlife has been collected, participants can photograph their specimen and note the data, location, time, size and type of species that have been observed.
Participants log onto their online ecoEXPLORE profile and submit their observations to the website. North Carolina Arboretum staff will review the data that is uploaded by participants and submit all approved submissions to the iNaturalist Network used by scientists for research purposes.
The ecoEXPLORE staff present seasonal programming about ecoEXPLORE and the featured species for that quarter. Right now the program is only being offered virtually, as most participating organizations have not reintroduced in-person programming.
Once in-person programming resumes, participants will come to the Kill Devil Hills Library twice each quarter to present their findings. At this time, The Dare County Library does not have a set date for resuming in-person programming and will continue to follow the advice of Dare County Department of Health & Human Services.
In order to make the most of the program, customers will be able to check out a backpack that contains kid-friendly binoculars, a bug house, a butterfly net, a bird call and a field camera from the Kill Devil Hills Library for three weeks.
A grant from the ecoEXPLORE program will also allow the Kill Devil Hills Library to build an outdoor exploration area that will include houses for birds and frogs, pollinator plants and a bird bath.
To register for the program, visit www.EcoEXPLORE.org. For more information, call the Kill Devil Hills Library at 252-441-4331. The Kill Devil Hills Library is at 400 Mustian Street in Kill Devil Hills.