The purpose of Educators’ Week encompasses the following goals and has not changed over the 12 years. Those goals are:

  • Provide an opportunity for participants to gain new knowledge through hands-on sessions facilitated by experts in their field;
  • Create an awareness of resources, materials, and activities that are available for teachers and naturalists in Ohio;
  • Help participants become comfortable with new subject areas in natural history so that they can share this information with their students;
  • Create networking for the participants to use throughout the year;
  • Learn, discover, develop a sense of wonder, try new things and have fun!

Educators’ Week has been instructing and inspiring educators from across Ohio and surrounding states for many years. Here are some thoughts from past participants:

  • I love this week for the technical info and depth of the topics.
  • This week consistently offers the best training I’ve ever been to in my 30 years of teaching.
  • Every presenter was so knowledgeable and offered valuable tools to use in my classroom!
  • I was completely blown away by the programs, the people, the beauty, and kindness. I had no idea the scope of the inner change in me as a result of experiencing and learning what I did.
  • When you have an opportunity to be around people who hold education/learning in high regard you are inspired to stay positive in a negative world and gather strength to continue forging ahead to make the world a better place no matter how hard it is.
  • I can’t tell you how much of a rich experience this is – I continually reflect on it and pull from it throughout the year. I love how it ties together information for me!

Educators’ Week begins with orientation and a large-group learning session for all participants. The week follows with two concurrent sessions each morning and afternoon and a large group session in the evening after dinner. The final day of the week culminates in two concurrent field trips taken around the area summarizing all that participants have learned throughout the week. All meals for the week as well as lodging are provided and are included in the cost of registration. Participants will also receive electronic copies of all session materials as well as a set of ODNR Field Guides, Educators’ Week t-shirt, notebook and other helpful items.

The delicate balance of people, natural resource use, and technological advances is at the heart of many local, national, and global news stories. Throughout the week, participants explore hands-on best practice strategies for introducing people to the natural world and these issues. Using their professional expertise and experience, top naturalists and educators from around the state facilitate sessions using the park and local resources. Sessions provide opportunities to gain an understanding of topics related to state academic standards by immersing the participants in a natural setting and a stimulating learning environment.

Background, Life on a Sandy Delta

Paul and Cathy Knoop

Educators’ Week was started in 2009 by Cathy and Paul Knoop. Cathy and Paul have been educating youth and adults throughout Ohio for over 40 years. Paul spent 35 years at Aullwood Audubon Center moving up the ranks and serving as Education Director, the position from which he retired. Cathy retired from a long career of teaching science in the elementary classroom. Since retirement, both Paul and Cathy have continued to teach others about nature in a variety of ways.  

Prior to the current iteration of Educator’s Week, the Knoops had been hired to teach the teachers’ week at Audubon’s Hog Island in Maine.  They had worked with Ashland University to arrange for credit for the workshop since Ohio teachers were taking advantage of the training.  Following the week in 2008, it was announced that Hog Island would no longer be offering this opportunity. Surveys were sent out asking if teachers would be interested in a week-long class stressing environmental education/natural history if it was offered in Ohio. With a positive response, the idea was discussed with Ashland University who completely supported the project and the venue for the conference became Camp Oty’Okwa, located in the heart of the Hocking Hills in Hocking County, Ohio. The camp is owned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. 

It was decided that the focus would be “living on a sandy delta” in southeast Ohio, stressing the importance of geology as a base for natural history of the area. Presenters were obtained from around the state so that participants could be exposed to specialists that might otherwise not be available in their region.  Two to three concurrent sessions are offered during the mornings and afternoons as well as evening sessions taking place after dinner. Throughout the week, sessions progress in complexity so that by the last day of the conference, participants use the knowledge they’ve gained during immersive day-long field trips.