Environmental Education Conference

Rural Action and Camp Oty’Okwa are hosting the 6th annual Appalachian Green Teachers Conference October 29-30, 2019 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. Email joe@ruralaction to receive the 2019 call for proposals!

Registration Coming Soon!

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 Tuesday, October 29th and wrap up by 4:00pm on Thursday, October 30th.
  • 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:

2018 Conference Agenda

Wednesday, October 31st

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

Thursday, November 1st

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

1:30-2:30pm Presentation by Heather Taylor-Miesle

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

3:00-5:00pm Concurrent Session II

5:30-6:30pm Dinner

6:30-7:30pm Keynote Presentation by Michelle Stitzlein (see description below)

6:30-9:30pm Evening Speaker, Awards, Live Music, Cash Bar

Friday, November 2nd

7:00-8:00am Yoga with Molly Jo Stanley

8:00-9:00am Registration, Breakfast, and Presentation from Courtney Koestler

9:00am-12:00pm Session III

12:30-1:30pm Lunch and Presentation by Courtney

2:00-4:00pm Session IV

2018 Keynote Speaker

Michelle Stitzlein, Artist

Michelle Stitzlein is an artist who uses recycled materials to create artwork out of items that would otherwise likely be headed for the landfill. Her presentation will focus on her bottle cap residencies in schools, highlighting environmentally friendly art made of recycled materials, and a short demonstration of putting this type of artwork to practice for educators. Michelle has also requested that participants bring old garden hoses that are no longer in use so that she can use them in a future art installment. Michelle’s presentation will follow dinner on Thursday evening, November 1st.

Courtney Koestler, Ohio University

In this talk, Dr. Courtney Koestler will engage participants in a discussion of the professional, personal, and political sides of science education. We will discuss how “everything is political and nothing is neutral,” and how this relates to environmental education in formal and in informal learning communities. Dr. Courtney Koestler is the director of the OHIO Center of Equity in Mathematics and Science, housed in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Koestler is a former K-8 public school teacher and has taught in culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse schools located in rural, suburban, and urban communities as  both a classroom teacher (grades 2, 4, 5, and 8) and as a mathematics coach in PreK-5 classrooms. Koestler’s scholarship centers on diversity, equity, critical literacy, and justice in teaching and teacher education. Her keynote presentation will take place during lunch on Friday.

Heather Taylor-Miesle, Ohio Environmental Council 

Heather Taylor-Miesle has more than 20 years of experience advocating for greater environmental and public health protections, and working with our nation’s top decision-makers to bring environmental issues into the political spotlight. Prior to joining the OEC, Heather was the leader of the NRDC Action Fund, where she grew the organization from a mere concept into an environmental powerhouse in national politics. She also served as the NRDC’s deputy legislative director, worked with Fortune 500 companies to strengthen their sustainability practices, and held key aide positions on Capitol Hill working on energy and natural resources issues. Heather studied political science and communications at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio and earned her master’s of public administration from the University of Southern California.

2018 Presentations

Marsh Madness! Exploring Wetlands Through Inquiry and Integration (FULL)
Dr. Sami Kahn & Dr. Sara Hartman, Department of  Teacher Education at Ohio University’s Patton College of Education

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!

My Backyard Stream Program (FULL)
Jen Bowman

My Backyard Stream Citizen Science Program is part of the Watershed Education page found on Ohio University’s watersheddata.com website.  This is an interactive online GIS based story map ready to be populated with photos, site observations, and environmental data provided by the students.  The interactive online tool enables students to share their own scientific measurements collected at local streams, rivers, and/or ponds in their community.  Students can see their own photo, data, and observations on the GIS-based map and make connections to the other observations made by other contributing students across the region also displayed.  The session will explore the story map site, how to utilize the “My Backyard Stream” program, and learn water quality meter calibration process and stream measurement collection techniques.

Nature Journaling
Julie Gee, Burr Oak State Park

Nature journaling promotes connections to the natural world, a sense of place, and new discoveries. The process of nature journaling integrates several academic disciplines – the hallmark of environmental education. Participants in this session will practice nature journaling through several focused activities. Please bring a journal or notebook and a pencil.

Playful Learning (FULL)
Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery

Join educators from the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery to explore the playful side of inquiry-based education. This session will provide opportunities for hands-on, informal, interactive, project and problem-based learning, as well as a discussion on how and why to keep playfulness in your teaching.

Project Learning Tree’s Climate Change Module and E-Unit Carbon and Climate
Sue Wintering, Ohio Project Learning Tree Coordinator & Jamie Dahl, Forest Outreach Coordinator with Central State University Extension

Discover & Explore all of PLT’s Climate Change materials including a downloadable secondary high school module and the middle school Carbon & Climate e-unit. Participants taking part in the session will have permanent access to these educational materials. Experience how PLT across-the-curriculum activity lessons use the forest as a window to investigate current environmental issues.

Researching Rattlesnakes (FULL)
Andrew Hoffman, Ohio State University

In this session, participants will learn what rattlesnakes have to teach us about predator-prey dynamics, adaptations, and fungal parasitism. This will include a break down of scientific processes researchers use to approach these subjects. These snakes aren’t as scary or dangerous as we think!

Retrospectives for Actionable Learning (FULL)
Cathy Knoop, Camp Oty’Okwa

Experience how to use Retropsectives as a learning tool with your students, peers or staff. In this workshop, we will apply an activity for evaluation of our team building project, called Retrospectives. Retrospectives are an activity at the end of a project or where the whole team inspects and adapts their methods and teamwork. Retrospectives enable team-learning, act as catalysts for change, and generate action. How do we know if we did well? Is there a chance for improvement? If the project will be repeated or when working on future projects, this is a valuable learning tool.

Sculptors of the Earth: Using Hands-On and Project Based Learning to Explore the Ancient Earthworks of the Ohio River Valley
Jennifer Aultman, World Heritage Project Coordinator & Shoshana Gross, Ohio History Day State Coordinator

The middle Ohio River Valley is home to scores of 2,000 year old monumental, geometric American Indian ceremonial earthworks. In this session, learn how the Hopewell culture earthwork builders encoded intimate knowledge of the earth, water, sky, flora and fauna into their creations. This session embraces a cross-curricular approach, using citizen science ideas and historical thinking skills as a framework for students to deeply engage with these awe-inspiring ancient earthworks. Participants will leave with practical, classroom-ready activities and lesson ideas for their students. As an added bonus, get an update on the effort to have some of these earthworks included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

A Sense of Place – Getting to Know the Place Where You Live
Paul Knoop, former Director of Aullwood Audubon Center

In this session, participants will learn about exploring and interpreting our natural environment.

Small Scientists: Experiments for Preschoolers
Emily Kridel, Camp Oty’Okwa & Brett Smith, Rural Action

Preschool-age children have a natural affinity for exploring the world around them. Using hands-on experiments is a great way to encourage this curiosity and develop questioning skills. This session will focus on introducing the scientific method and the physical sciences to young children.

Team Building Initiatives & Classroom Rapport
Nick Cruise and Joe Brehm, Rural Action

Rural Action’s Nick Cruise will guide participants through several team-building challenges designed to exercise students’ soft skills like communication, positive reinforcement, critical thinking, adapting to new circumstances, and respecting others’ perspectives.

The Wonders of Wetlands (WOW) Curriculum
Dennis Clement, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Education

Participants will work through 5-6 hands-on and ethical reasoning activities dealing with wetlands. Each participant will go home with free curriculum guides with at least 45 more activities to do in their classrooms or park settings.

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 5th Annual Appalachian Green Teachers Conference is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors: