Shortleaf Pine illustration with NCFS Shield Holmes Educational State Forest

Shortleaf Pine illustration with NCFS Shield Holmes Educational State Forest

Holmes ESF Self-Guided Activities

Citizen Science

HESF is currently involved with 2 exciting citizen science projects that will give visitors, of all ages, the opportunity to collect and contribute to our local scientific community.

Developed by the North Carolina Arboretum, the program is a great way for children in grades K-8 to explore the forest and help scientists learn more about our local environment. Participants can earn badges and prizes when they submit their data and observations to the exoExplore website.

Holmes Educational State Forest is now registered as an exoExplore HotSpot!

Please visit their website to sign-up and/or more information at


To start earning badges, create an ecoEXPLORE account first. Then, submit photos and complete nature-themed challenges in your
dashboard to earn badges!

2022 Badges

Herpetology Field Season runs May-June

Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians! Here at the forest you can look for these creatures in creeks, puddles, under logs, under rocks and in the trees!

Field Focus: Salamanders

Start by June 30, and you’ll have one year to finish.

Entomology Field Season runs July-August

Entomology is the study of insects! Look for insects on the flowers in our pollinator garden, on the leaves of trees and crawling under logs and in the soil.

Field Focus: Dragonflies

Start by August 31, and you’ll have one year to finish.

Mycology Field Season runs September-October

Mycology is the study of fungi! Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes can be seen here in the forest. Keep an eye out for these unique organisms as you hike the trails!

Ecology Mission Badge

Start by October 31, and you’ll have one year to finish.

Mammalogy (Legacy) Field Season runs November-December

Mammalogy is the study of mammals. Mammals of all sizes can be found here at the forest. Look for mammal tracks along the creek, and keep an eye out for mammal scat along our trails!

iNaturalist is another citizen science project that might interest you while visiting the forest. You can either download the app or visit their website to start sharing your data and observations with others in our area. This is a great way to learn more about the biodiversity in Western North Carolina.

iNaturalist website can be found at

Current Project: Holmes Educational State Forest Bioblitz!