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At-home EcoQuest

As an EcoExplorer, your child will carry out simple, fun EcoChallenges that will guide them in completing their EcoQuest. For every completed EcoChallenge, your child earns a badge!

Discover ecology in your backyard!

Join us on an EcoQuest this summer to uncover the secret ecosystem where you live! How many different organisms live all around you, and what in the world are they eating? Learn how to use ecological tools to understand these fascinating consumers and their bizarre eating habits in your home ecosystem.

The Cary EcoQuest program gets children connected to nature with activities that are straightforward, accessible, and accomplished with minimal parental assistance. It will spark children’s curiosity about the local ecosystem that exists right where they live, instill confidence in their skills to think and explore like an ecologist, and prepare them for future science investigations back in the classroom and beyond. 

We are offering this program for free!

Summer 2021 EcoQuest Program

Help your child springboard into EcoQuest by signing up for two weeks of “EcoQuest Crew” interactive Zoom meetings with Cary educators! Eco-Explorers will meet for a total of 5 Zoom meetings.

The dates for the “EcoQuest Crew” program are July 6-9 and July 12-16. The first week will focus on the “Naturalist” badge and the second week will focus on the “Field Tech” badge. If you request the EcoQuest booklets, those will arrive in the mail prior to July 6th.

Download an orientation packet that provides an overview of:

  • Goals & structure of EcoQuest
  • Badges and how to earn them
  • Weekly Zoom meetings and Padlet website
  • Note on safety & materials

New This Year!

  • We will offer the EcoQuest booklet materials in both Spanish and English, as well as offer a bilingual option for the Zoom meetings!
  • Rather than have one large booklet as we had last year, we will offer 5 small, individual booklets for each of the 5 badges. You can request all 5 of the booklets or specific booklets to be mailed to you, free of charge. You also have the option to print materials from home.
  • For those who participated last year, the badges will remain mostly the same with slight edits (you’re welcome to receive the new version!). For those who are new to the program, you can view last year’s booklet as a sneak-peek. 

Registration is open through June 25, 2021


How the EcoQuest Badges program works

EcoExplorers will carry out investigations outside of their homes to learn ecology the way scientists at Cary do. The goal of this program is for kids to learn all they can about the ecosystem that exists in the natural space outside their homes, such as a backyard, potted plants on a patio, whatever green space may be available!  They will keep a personal nature journal, collect insects, fungi and plants, participate in citizen science projects, set up experiments, and try their hand at being eco-educators and eco-artists. 

To complete this EcoQuest, your child must complete a series of EcoChallenges for which they will receive fun metal button badges. We would love to see these badges on backpacks, hats or tee-shirts at future Cary camps!

Who can participate?

Cary EcoQuest is recommended for children entering grades 2-5. We have suggested participation levels:

  • Junior EcoExplorer (suggested for grades 2-3): To complete the EcoQuest at the Junior EcoExplorer level, participants must complete three EcoChallenge badges.
  • Senior EcoExplorer (suggested for grades 4-5): To complete the EcoQuest at the Senior EcoExplorer level, participants must complete all five EcoChallenge badges.

What is the time commitment? 

This program is flexible and your child can work at their own pace to achieve badges - they can do activities for an hour each day or longer, complete a badge within one week or spread it out over multiple weeks. They can even continue their EcoQuest after the summer program concludes!

What is the cost?


Optional—yet encouraged!—Online Activities

For added support, we are offering themed guidance and activities that align with the first two badges (Naturalist and Field Tech) during the virtual Zoom meetings in early July. Although screen time is not absolutely required to complete the EcoChallenges, we do recommend at least minimal participation in our online enrichment opportunities—like being part of an EcoQuest Crew—because they allow participants to connect with Cary Educators and fellow EcoExplorers.

For those interested in being part of an EcoQuest Crew, there will be virtual get-togethers each week of no more than 45 minutes for EcoExplorers in each of two age bands - entering grades 2-3 and 4-5. Additionally, there will be a bilingual Spanish-English Zoom session option. These sessions will invite EcoExplorers to share their discoveries, get to know each other and the educators, and receive encouragement and guidance on their path to completing the EcoQuest. 

At registration, please indicate if you would like your child to participate. We would like the EcoQuest Crews to be consistent groups where children become familiar and comfortable with each other and with the leaders during these two weeks.

We will be using Zoom as our communication platform and Padlet as the platform to post weekly activities and discoveries. Both are private platforms that are free and simple to use, and will only be used by the EcoQuest program participants. 

Program Leaders

The EcoQuest Program will be led by Ashley Alred with the assistance of high school Eco-Leaders from the 2020 EcoQuest program.

Badges Descriptions

  • Naturalist Badge: The mission of this badge is to notice and observe the different organisms in your habitat.
  • Field Tech Badge: The mission of this badge is to learn techniques to “take attendance” of the animals that live in your habitat and practice identifying them.
  • Field Ecologist Badge: The mission of this badge is to design and conduct your own field experiment to investigate more about animals and the food they consume.
  • Artist Badge: The mission of this badge is to use artistic techniques to explore, celebrate, and share your habitat.
  • Teacher Badge: The mission of this badge is to practice communicating ecology lessons by sharing what you have learned with your friends, classmates, and family.