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Explorer Program for NEARS

Agencies participating in our Explorer Program will get the opportunity to explore the CDC NEARS and Environmental Assessment Training Series (EATS). State, local, tribal, or territorial governmental food safety agencies not yet enrolled in CDC NEARS are eligible. 

Note that jurisdictions can enroll in CDC NEARS at any time, participating in the Explorer Program is not required to register for CDC NEARS.

Explorer Program Components

Explorer Program funding must support food safety program initiatives that support exploring involvement in CDC NEARS. Supported activities should allow:

  • Staff time to learn about CDC NEARS, such as:
    • Taking Environmental Assessment Training (EATS) to conduct environmental assessments
    • Participating in a CDC NEARS webinar training session
    • Attending a regional or national CDC NEARS presentation
  • Purchase of environmental sampling and other investigation equipment to build capacity in foodborne outbreak investigations
  • Ability to use funds to encourage local programs within the state to participate

Explorer Webinar Series

The Explorer Webinar Series is an in-depth overview of CDC NEARS and how participation benefits environmental health programs, national food safety initiatives, and local communities. Webinar topics include:

  • Introduction to CDC NEARS
  • Online Demonstration of CDC NEARS, including how data is reported into CDC NEARS
  • Perspectives from jurisdictions enrolled and actively participating in CDC NEARS
  • Steps to register as a CDC NEARS site following the Explorer Program

We encourage participants to attend the live webinar series, however, it will be recorded to view after the live session.

Environmental Assessment Training 

As an Explorer, jurisdictions will have the opportunity to be trained in CDC’s EATS - Environmental Assessment Training Series that trains you to conduct during outbreak investigations and report the assessment data to CDC NEARS. The training is ideal for agencies that conduct foodborne illness outbreak investigations. 

Final Report

After completing the EATS training and webinar series, participants must complete a final report. The final report must identify:

  • If CDC NEARS is a good fit for the participating program 
  • If participants would like to register your food safety program to participate in CDC NEARS
  • Potential challenges to implementation
  • How the funding was able to help the program build capacity in conducting foodborne illness outbreak investigations (e.g., secured additional equipment, increased environmental assessment knowledge, provided training to staff, etc.)

Program Deliverables

Upon completion of the project period, at least one member of the participating food safety team will have:

After completion of our Explorer Program jurisdictions can choose to enroll in CDC NEARS


To participate in the Explorer Program, your organization must have the ability to:

  • Attend and participate in the Explorer Webinar Series
  • Complete CDC’s online EATS training 
  • Enroll in CDC NEARS
  • Sign our Subaward Agreement 
    • A subaward agreement is required to participate in our Explorer Program. The agreement is required to be executed by both parties prior to starting the Program. 
  • Provide DUNS/SAMS number
  • Complete a W9 and ACH form 


Explorer Program funding is awarded after all program deliverables are completed. 

  • Jurisdictions must invoice us for the full amount awarded. 
  • Funding is not a reimbursement for expenses; therefore, no receipts or record of staff time is required to be submitted with the invoice. 
  • The invoice may be submitted anytime outputs are completed, even if it’s before the project period ends. 
  • Funds will be awarded to participating jurisdictions within 30 days of receipt of a complete invoice and final report.