Muddy Sneakers

Muddy Sneakers is an outdoor science education program that serves fifth-grade students attending public schools across the state of North Carolina. Through Muddy Sneakers’ innovative programs, fifth-grade students explore the essential science standards set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction using hands-on, experiential outdoor learning. Muddy Sneakers currently operates out of two regional field offices: our Western (WNC) regional field office located in Brevard, and our Piedmont (PNC) regional field office located in Salisbury. With a vision for continued regional growth as well as additional field offices, Muddy Sneakers is primed to serve more students in the years ahead across North Carolina while continuing to prioritize organizational sustainability as it enters its 15th year.

Our mission:

To awaken in children a deeply felt connection with the natural world — one that inspires curiosity, stimulates learning, and brings new life to classroom performance.

Our vision:

Muddy Sneakers envisions a world where every child has the opportunity to form a connection to nature and benefit from the wellness it provides. We are committed to becoming a national model for closing the science literacy gap, inviting diversity into the outdoors, and instilling an understanding of one’s role in the greater ecosystem. In doing so, we cultivate healthier generations committed to the stewardship of our natural resources.

Our values:

Access: We believe children of all backgrounds, cultures, and abilities benefit from and have a right to meaningful experiences in the outdoors that foster a connection to nature.

Belonging: We have a responsibility as outdoor educators to introduce nature as an equitable, inclusive, and empowering space for all people.

Experiential Learning: Hands-on instruction, via the outdoor classroom, can deeply impact a child’s formal education. We are committed to small group, place-based learning that reimagines the traditional classroom. We cultivate curiosity, observation, inquiry, and relationships that foster scientifically literate future generations.

Conservation: We know that healthy human and natural communities are interconnected. To create a more sustainable world, youth must have opportunities, at a formative age, to connect with nature and come to understand how we each play a role in preserving the natural world.

Well-being: We promote an inclusive culture of integrity, passion, collaboration, accountability, and individuality that inspires enjoyment and fulfillment for the individuals who serve our mission.

Current Programs and Services

School Expedition Programming - Muddy Sneakers partners with public schools to supplement fifth-grade science instruction through hands-on outdoor learning expeditions, with topics like Aquatic Ecosystems, Forces and Motion, and Weather. The 5th grade NC Essential Standards for Science set by the Department of Public Instruction are deeply integrated into Muddy Sneakers Curriculum. Schools pay 25% of the cost of the partnership, while Muddy Sneakers raises the remaining 75%.

Classroom Curriculum and Virtual Expeditions - In addition to our traditional expedition model, Muddy Sneakers developed the Classroom Curriculum in response to the needs of students learning from home through COVID-19. Our comprehensive Muddy Sneakers Classroom Curriculum can now be used by all partner teachers and students to bring science to life through experiential lessons that are accessible both in the classroom and through remote learning. Teachers also bring Muddy Sneakers into the classroom through dynamic, instructor-led virtual lessons.

Community Programming - To broaden the reach and impact of the work, Muddy Sneakers offers special programming opportunities beyond the 5th grade setting through partnership with mission-aligned community groups, other non-profit organizations, the environmental and science education communities, and additional school partners within the service regions.