Environmental Education Conference

Rural Action and Camp Oty’Okwa are hosting the 4th annual Appalachian Green Teachers Conference November 2-3, 2017 at Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center! A two-day hands-on experience for teachers and non-formal educators with an interest in environmental education and inquiry-based education.

Register Here!

Conference Details

  • Cost is $35 per day, which includes meals. Scholarships are available–contact Joe Brehm for more information (contact info below)
  • We have a block of rooms and cabins reserved at Burr Oak Lodge–let the front desk know you are with Rural Action to get the conference rate: (740) 767-2112
  • Graduate credit will be available through Ashland University. Contact Cathy Knoop for more details: cathy.h.knoop@gmail.com
  • We will provide certificates for contact hours
  • The conference will begin at 8:00am on Thursday, November 2 and wrap up by 4:00pm on Friday, November 3rd. The session schedule will be coming soon
  • If you are interested in setting up a table on behalf of your organization or displaying a research poster, please email Cathy Knoop at the address above.
  • Contact Joe Brehm for more details: joe@ruralaction.org or at (740) 767-2225
  • Listen in on last year’s podcast below:

2017 Conference Agenda

Wednesday, November 1st 

7:00-10:00pm Networking and Mixer in the Burr Oak Lodge bar

Thursday, November 2nd

8:00-8:45am  Check-in and light breakfast

9:00-9:30am  Welcome, Kick-Off, and Logistics

9:45-11:45am Concurrent Session 1

11:45am-12:30pm View Tables and Exhibits

12:30-1:15pm Lunch (all-day field trips will include a packed lunch)

1:30-2:30pm Keynote Presentation

2:30-3:00pm View Tables and Exhibits

3:00-5:00pm Concurrent Session II

5:30-6:30pm Dinner

6:30-9:30pm Awards, live music, cash bar

Friday, November 3rd

8:00-9:00am Registration, Breakfast, and Presentation

9:00am-12:00pm Session III

12:30-1:30pm Lunch and Presentation

2:00-4:00pm Session IV

2017 Keynote Speaker

Kip Brady, high school science teacher at New Philadelphia City Schools

Kip Brady will share some of his long-term scientific studies with not only his high-school students, but also how he has involved younger students in the district. These studies focus on salamanders, forest macroinvertebrates, and now small mammals. He was given the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators in 2015 for his research with students focused on the impacts of coal mining on salamander populations.

2017 Concurrent Sessions 

Thursday, November 2nd 9:45-11:45am

Dennis Clements, Ohio Environmental Education Fund: Grant Writing Workshop (All grade levels, inside, all-day)

Grant Writing 101 and 102: Finding the Right Funder (5-hour interactive workshop). Prospecting tips to help you identify foundations, corporations, and government grant programs, and how to approach different kinds of grantmakers. The Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) funds environmental science grants to K-University audiences. Grants range from $500-$50,000. Information about OEEF and the application process will be discussed between 101 and 102. Writing a Winning Proposal. How to avoid common mistakes applicants make, and develop realistic objectives, activities, and budgets.

Dr. Ryan Fogt and the Youth Climate Action Team: Teaching Climate Change and Taking Action at Schools (MS/HS, inside)

Dr. Fogt will work through resources for teaching about climate change and members from Camp Oty’Okwa’s and Rural Action’s Youth Climate Action team will share service-learning projects related to climate change. This session will take place indoors. Please bring your own laptop or tablet, as many of the shared resources will be online.

Laura Diaco, Zero Waste Activities (Elm, inside/outside)

Laura will share tried and tested activities and lesson plans related to recycling, composting, and zero waste that meet elementary grade academic standards.

Dr. Sami Kahn and Dr. Sara Hartman, Marsh Madness (Elementary, inside/outside) FULL

During this interactive session, participants will engage in inquiry-based environmental science investigations about wetlands while seamlessly integrating social studies and literacy standards. Lesson plans will be provided!

Watershed Scientists, Deep Dive into Water Quality (All Day Field Trip, Elm/MS/HS)

In this session participants will participate in a field study examining the biology of high-quality Southeast Ohio streams. Participants will learn to identify salamander and invertebrate species and see food webs and food chains in action. Transportation and a packed lunch provided.


Thursday, November 2nd 3:00-5:00pm

Dennis Clements, Ohio Environmental Education Fund: Grant Writing Workshop (All grade levels, inside, all-day)

Morning session continues!

Cathy Knoop, Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (El, inside)

Tilt, rotate and orbit as we explore the Earth and its place in the solar system. Have fun making a live model
that can be used with students to help them discover why we change seasons. Create a sundial in your
schoolyard that can be explored throughout the year. Find out if all planets orbit and rotate the same as
planet Earth. What is an equinox? Why is there a Solstice? Have to learn and have fun!

Jeannie Wycinski, School Gardens and Standards (Elm/MS/HS, inside/outside)

Develop gardens designed to provide experiential learning opportunities for your students. These scientific laboratories are a place for students to enjoy hands-on cross curricular learning for all ages. Lessons are written using the 5E format (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate).

Watershed Scientists, Deep Dive into Water Quality (All Day Field Trip, Elm/MS/HS)

Morning session continues! We will provide transportation and packed lunches.

Friday, November 3rd 9:00am-12:00pm

Paul Knoop, Geology–the Foundation of Life (MS/HS, inside/outside) FULL

This workshop will introduce participants to the geology of Ohio. Participants will learn how continental drift, ancient seas, glaciation and other geologic forces have made this region what it is today. Hand-on activities and an outdoor walk will compliment this session.

Sam Romeo, Studying Birds to Meet Standards   (MS/HS, outside)

A guided hike focused on bird identification, their role in the ecosystem, habitat preferences, and citizen science projects appropriate for schools and school yards.

 Julie Gee, Hike to Buckeye Cave (All Levels, outside) FULL

This hike traverses a mature deciduous forest trail on the way to a beautiful rock recess locally known as “Buckeye Cave.” We will take a look at natural history items of interest along the trail. The hike is approximately 2 miles in length and includes up and down terrain.

Karam Sheban, Project-Based Learning with Ginseng (Elm/MS, inside/outside)

Join Karam, a staff member with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Team, as he models lessons and activities from the Appalachian Stewards Project, which gives students the opportunity to study high-value herbs like American Ginseng, learn forest restoration techniques, and population monitoring.

Friday, November 3rd 2:00-4:00pm

Betty Altfater,Geology and Soils Lab (MS/HS, inside/outside) FULL

Features a rock cycle game that helps students discover that the rock cycle isn’t just a set circle but varies in time and pattern, soil analysis by feel and by percent composition, studying critters in the soil and their roles, and classifying rocks.

Christina Wieg, Civic Participation and Air Quality (MS/HS

Ohio air quality specialist and environmental lawyer Christina Wieg will share some ways in which teachers and students can be engaged citizens when it comes to environmental issues such as air quality.

Jen Parson and the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, STEAM Olympics (Elm, inside)

Join Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery educators to solve engaging STEAM challenges geared toward elementary students. Incorporating STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics in a maker-inspired setting, leave with some approachable, standards-supported ideas to bring making into your classroom or informal education group.

Darcy Higgins, Observation Skills through the BEETLE Project

Making observations is a key foundation for understanding the natural world and scientific thinking. It also provides a path to directly engage students with nature and make them responsible for building their own understandings. We will model activity routines in the field and instructor behaviors that help students improve observation skills in order to deepen engagement, curiosity, wonder and connection in nature. This session is based on the “BEETLES Project” field instruction resources.

Contact Information:

  • Contact Joe Brehm for more information, registration questions, or for scholarship info: 740-767-2225,  joe@ruralaction.org
  • Contact Cathy Knoop about Graduate Credit or about setting up a display: 740-603-3911,  cathy.h.knoop@gmail.com


The 3rd Annual Inquiry-Based Education Conference was possible through the generous support of our sponsors: