Rural Action and Camp Oty’Okwa are hosting the 6th annual Appalachian Green Teachers Conference on October 22-23, 2020 at Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center! The conference is a two-day, hands-on experience for all teachers and non-formal educators with an interest in environmental and inquiry-based education.

Registration coming summer 2020

  • The cost is $35 per day, which includes meals. Scholarships are available – contact Joe Brehm for more information.
  • This year, educators interested in high school internship and related learning programs can join us on Wednesday, Oct. 21 for a pre-conference summit on this work.
  • We will 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
  • One semester hour of graduate credit is available from Ashland University. Registration will be when you arrive on the first morning of the conference. To receive credit, you must attend the entire conference, including the Tuesday evening session. You may pay the $180 registration fee by check or credit card. Checks should be made out to Ashland University
  • We will provide certificates for contact hours.
  • The conference will begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, and wrap up by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.
  • If you are interested in setting up a table on behalf of your organization or displaying a research poster, please email us.
  • Contact Joe Brehm for more details: or at (740) 767-2225.
  • Listen in on a podcast from 2017 below:

Connect with other educators who are inspired by the outdoors, reinvigorate yourself for a year of teaching, gain new techniques and lessons, and earn CEUs/graduate credit! A Swansea University study found that outdoor learning time increases teachers’ job satisfaction — could this be you? We welcome you to this community of inspiring educators at the beautiful Burr Oak State Park.

2019 Schedule

Monday, October 28th

7:00-8:30pm Wilderness living skills demonstration and workshop with Brock Bolen

Tuesday, October 29th

8:00-9:00am Check-in and light breakfast
9:00-9:20am Welcome, Kick-Off, and Logistics
9:30-11:30am Concurrent Session 1
11:30am-12:00pm View Tables and Exhibits
12:00-2:00pm Lunch and keynote presentation by Jim Mahoney
2:00-3:00pm View Tables and Exhibits
3:00-5:00pm Concurrent Session II
5:30-6:30pm Dinner
6:30-7:30pm Keynote Presentation by Paul Patton (see description below)
7:30-9:00pm Awards, Music, Cash Bar

Wednesday, October 30th

8:00-9:00am Registration and breakfast
9:00am-12:00pm Session III
12:30-1:30pm Lunch and Keynote presentation
2:00-4:00pm Session IV

2019 Keynote Speakers

Paul Patton, former Archeologist at Ohio University and current Rural Action Social Enterprise Director

Jim Mahoney, former superintendent and past director of Battelle for Kids

Ebony Hood, co-founder of the non-profit Syatt, and Community Relations Specialist with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

2019 Presentations

Dennis Clement, Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education: Environmental Careers using Project WET’s Urban Waters Activity and Career Bingo (Session 1)
This session will convey types of environmental careers available in Ohio and the academic paths students can take to employment in these fields. Each participant will leave with one set of career bingo cards and the instructions.

Molly Gassaway and Susie Huser, Community Food Initiatives: Hands-on Activities for school gardens (Session 1)
Two hands-on lessons for Elementary grades: homemade seed tape and up-cycled garden row markers, and will touch on other lesson plans and ideas for creative garden lessons. Participants will get lesson plan hand-outs and other bonus materials from CFI’s school garden toolkit.

Darcy Higgins, Rural Action Environmental Education: Inspiring discussion using broad questions in the outdoors
We often ask leading questions to students that have, in our minds, correct answers. How would asking broad questions with no “right” answer change your experience taking students into the natural world? This session will give you the tools and experience to find out! Based on Project BEETLES professional learning materials.

Nate Schlater and Tim Ferrell, Rural Action Watershed Program: Exploring pollution, restoration and ecology in the Sunday/Monday Creek Watersheds (All day– Sessions 1 and 2, pack-out lunch included)
This all-day field trip will take participants to sites of educational opportunity within local watersheds impacted by historical unregulated coal mining. Participants will test water quality, see restoration methods, and observe the food webs and energy flow in these recovering aquatic ecosystems.

Becca Kelly and Jessica Takos, COSI: See, Think, Wonder (Session 3)
Transform your museum, nature center, or classroom into a living laboratory with three simple questions: what do you see? What does it make you think about? What does it make you wonder? In this interactive session led by members of COSI’s education team, we’ll explore how you can take your learners educational moments to the next level by making learning visible. We’ll explore how to transition from “facts” to “themes,” developing your learners scientific thinking while drawing out prior knowledge.

Joe Moosbrugger, Crane Hollow Nature Preserve: GPS and Navigation (Session 2)
Joe will show some free online resources and apps that teachers and students can use for navigation and mapping lessons, and participants will put these resources to the test by navigating around Burr Oak State Park. (indoor and outdoor; middle, high school, informal)

Jen Bowman et al, Ohio University’s Voinovich School: Water Quality and Energy Issues in Appalachia (Session 2)
Jen and her team will cover real issues facing students and teachers in our region in the areas of water quality and energy. Weaving these relevant issues into the curricula to meet academic standards makes the learning more real for students and, in many cases, leads them to engage in these issues. This session will also introduce the My Backyard Stream Citizen Science Program. (middle and high-school; indoors)

Cathy Knoop, Camp Oty’Okwa, and Robin Wright Strauss, Cincinnati Museum Center: A Force for Nature — the life and example of Dr. Lucy E. Braun (Session 3)
Cathy and Robyn will share the extensive curricula they have created around the life of Lucy Braun, a renowned Ohio botanist and conservationist who earned her Ph.D. in 1914 (six years before women had the right to vote). The curricula include activities for elementary, middle, and high-school classes and includes an amazing documentary of her life. (elementary, middle, high-school, informal; indoors)

Jason Cervenec, the OSU Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center: Low and High-Tech Options for Teaching about Earth’s Atmosphere (Session 3)
During this session, participants will complete two low-cost, low-tech activities looking at climate data for cities around the U.S. A new high-tech option will be showcased for looking at weather and climate data around the globe. Time will be reserved for discussing classroom and informal education options for these activities. Jason will discuss connections with the Ohio science content standards and welcomes feedback from participants about other needed educational resources. (elementary, middle, high school; indoors)

Brett Smith and Joe Brehm, Rural Action Environmental Education, with Tony Riley, Athens High School Science: How to Create a BioBlitz at your School (Session 3)
For the past two years, Rural Action has collaborated with Athens High School science teachers to facilitate a bioblitz of AHS’s land lab and school grounds using iNaturalist. Teacher Tony Riley has incorporated this into his science curriculum. This session will give educators the blueprint for conducting a bioblitz at their school. (elementary, middle, high-school, informal; indoor and outdoor)

Paul Knoop, Camp Oty’Okwa and Aullwood Audubon Center: Eastern Deciduous Gorests — a Living Laboratory
Participants will be introduced to Ohio forest history, forest ecology, tree identification, and forest activities for students. Most of the class time will be spent outdoors exploring a variety of forest communities. (all)

Trevor Rhodes, Ohio History Connection: Be a Dungeon Master! Using Narrative in Inquiry-Based Learning (Session 4)
Tell us a story! Students learn best through human connection, and the narrative is a teacher’s best tool to create that connection. Ohio History Connection will teach you how to craft narratives to frame your inquiry-based learning assignments using the “Dungeon Master Method.” Learn how to build a narrative that immerses your students, where to pull resources, and how to continue the learning process weeks after an assignment is ended. Whether you’re a middle school social studies teacher or a 3rd-grade teacher dabbling in STEM, you’ll learn how to use narratives to make your classroom come alive. (elementary, middle, high-school; indoors)

Jen Parsons, Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery: STEAM-Powered Learning (Session IV)
Practical applications of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) concepts for preK-12 teachers. You’ll leave this session with some interdisciplinary ideas to connect to educational standards as well as experience with hands-on, playful, project-based learning! (all; indoors)

Danielle Dani, Alycia Stigall, Kouree Chesser, Laura Diaco, Anthony Burger, and Mathew Gramkeet, Ohio University Patton College of Education: Landslides, a Place-Based STEM investigation
Through a hands-on investigation, session participants will explore Appalachian Ohio’s geological features (e.g., bedrock, landforms) and the conditions (natural and anthropogenic) that make the region more prone to landslides. Presenters will facilitate an interactive discussion about how the investigation addresses STEM and science inquiry practices, themes/crosscutting concepts, and earth science content statements of Ohio’s Learning Standards for Science. Presenters will share insights from their experience implementing the investigation with children in the region, in formal and informal settings. Participants will be asked to draw connections to their own practice and setting by considering implications for developing and implementing similar investigations. (elementary and middle; indoor and outdoor)

Sandy Reed, National Geographic: Geo-Inquiry (Session IV)
Geo-Inquiry is an exciting new integrated project-based, critical thinking skills in-action process that connects real-world challenges and National Geographic explorers to the classroom. Educators will walk away with the tools necessary to implement the process in their own classroom in order to further a student’s understanding of our planet and empower them to generate solutions for the future. Participants will receive a copy of National Geographic’s Geo-Inquiry Process Handbook and gain access to online resources. (elementary, middle, and high-school; indoor/outdoor)

Contact Information

Contact Joe Brehm for more information, registration questions, or for scholarship info: 740-767-2225,

Contact Jennifer Summerville about graduate credit:


The 6th Annual Appalachian Green Teachers Conference is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors:

Wayne National Forest
Rural Action
Environmental Education Council of Ohio
American Electric Power
Camp Oty’Okwa
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The Sugar Bush Foundation