My top priority is to connect our educational resources to as many North Carolina K-12 teachers and students as possible. Our new initiative, Learning Happens Here, spotlights the role our department plays in education across the state. The goals are for every child to understand our state’s history, arts and culture; how science works; the importance of getting outdoors in nature; and the value of reading. This happens in many ways—through field trips, visits to schools, teacher training, and extensive online content.

--Secretary Reid Wilson

Education has always been a core mission of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NC DNCR). For over 50 years, we have inspired a lifelong love of learning among students through our museums, parks, historic sites, zoo, aquariums, libraries, symphony, and archives. Our agency has dozens of educators on our staff across the department. As we look to the future, we seek to expand our educational reach and build public awareness and support for this mission among teachers, parents, and students.

Our key priorities in K-12 education:

History and Culture: North Carolina has a rich and complex history, with a diverse cultural tapestry that has shaped who we are today. Our department is dedicated to uncovering and sharing an expanded set of stories about the people and events that have influenced our history. We believe that presenting multiple perspectives illuminates a more comprehensive history, even when some aspects are painful and difficult to confront. Understanding our shared past builds unity and guides us toward a brighter future. Our goal is to help students understand where they fit in our state's journey toward achieving our country's founding ideals while embracing our wonderfully diverse culture and arts.

Science: We strive to increase students' understanding and appreciation of scientific concepts. Through interactive exhibits, hands-on experiences, and educational programs, we spark curiosity and foster a love for scientific inquiry, aiming to cultivate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. Our five science museum sites, zoo, four aquariums, and over 40 state parks all play a vital role in teaching the wonders of science. Reliance on evidence, facts, and quality science is essential for our society to make sound decisions. By fostering an understanding of the scientific process, we aim to build lifelong respect for science, empowering the next generation to meet complex challenges.

Nature: North Carolina boasts a wealth of natural beauty, and we believe in connecting students to the outdoors and encouraging outdoor recreation. Our initiatives provide opportunities for students to explore and appreciate the wonders of nature, fostering environmental awareness and encouraging a sense of responsibility for the conservation of our land, water, air, and wildlife.

Literacy and Reading: We are committed to promoting literacy and a lifelong love for reading. Literacy is the foundation of education, and we aim to instill a passion for books and knowledge in every North Carolina student. By nurturing reading skills and fostering a love for literature, we empower students to excel in all areas of their education. To achieve this, the State Library of North Carolina is proud to partner with local libraries and schools on a variety of literacy programs.

Arts: Artists and artistic institutions educate and inspire our youth and improve their quality of life. Through the NC Arts Council, we offer arts opportunities in all 100 counties through museums, craft centers, symphonies, theaters, opera companies, literary groups, local arts councils, and individual artists. We oversee A+ Schools of North Carolina, a whole-school transformation model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in 67 schools across the state. The North Carolina Museums of Art in Raleigh and Winston-Salem offer world-class arts experiences and the North Carolina Symphony performs in schools in all state regions.

Education for the Future: Our commitment to education is not only about classroom learning but also about nurturing students’ development. By focusing on these key areas in K-12 education, we ensure that North Carolina students receive a well-rounded and immersive educational experience. This encompasses the state's history, culture, scientific knowledge, the great outdoors, and the joy of reading. We aim to foster a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

The Learning Happens Here initiative aims to inspire a lifelong love of learning, promote unity through shared history, foster science literacy, encourage environmental responsibility, and instill a lifelong passion for reading. We hope to enhance the educational landscape of our state and empower the next generation of North Carolinians to thrive in a knowledge-driven world. We invite you to join us in this educational journey, supporting our mission to cultivate lifelong learners and responsible state residents.