Our Environmental Education Coordinator
Our environmental education coordinator is responsible for developing and implementing a variety of environmental education and outreach programs for our district. Programs can be delivered as school field trips, classroom presentations, workshops, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and others. Audiences include families, school groups/classes, adults, local organizations, and the public.
For questions or to request an educational program, please contact:
Environmental Education Coordinator
(814) 676-2832 ext. 2
Purpose & Importance
Environmental education helps individuals, organizations, and their communities learn more about environmental processes, develop investigative skills to identify problems, and form conclusions in order to make intelligent and informed decisions about how they can take care of it.
The components of environmental education are:
Environmental education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. Rather, it teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking and it enhances their own problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Formal and non-formal environmental educators facilitate the environmental education components to their students, and often work together to achieve these goals. Formal educators, such as school science teachers, form a foundation to give students a toolkit of knowledge to address challenges. Non-formal educators, such as environmental education specialists, often allow students to apply the skills they have learned into a real world context, while incorporating outdoor field experiences to allow students to practice what they have learned beyond the classroom.
Our district conducts and sponsors a variety of environmental education programs for students, organizations, adults, and the general public. These topics can be delivered as school field trips, classroom presentations, workshops, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and others. Topics offered include, but are not limited to:
Nonpoint source pollution, agriculture, watersheds and aquatic life, forestry, wildlife, invasive species, environmental permitting, municipal workshops, conservation careers, and much more!
The topics listed below are established programs that are either offered on an annual basis, by popular demand, or by special request. All programs advertised by the district are free and open to the public, unless otherwise specified. See our Upcoming Events page to see details of scheduled events. Reach out to our education coordinator about our established programs, or request a unique program tailored to your school group, organization, or the public. All requests should be made at least one month in advance.
Our district coordinates the annual Venango County Envirothon competition each spring. Teachers from schools within Venango County form up to three, 5-student teams to prepare for competition day, located at the Two Mile Run County Park Nature Lodge. Students compete in five different 'stations' which include wildlife, forestry, aquatic ecology, soils & land use, and a current issue. The current issue station changes each year - for 2023-24 the current issue is "Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future." The winning team will represent Venango County in the statewide competition held by the Pennsylvania Envirothon at Camp Mount Luther in Mifflinburg.
Prior to the competition day, we host an Envirothon 'training day' to prepare students for testing. Local professionals from the DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), PA Game Commission, and PA Fish & Boat Commission (to name a few) present information related to each station. While teachers are responsible for being advisors for their teams, our education coordinator and local environmental professionals are available to provide instruction throughout the school year to help prepare students for testing day.
If you are a teacher in Venango County and would like to get involved with Envirothon, contact our Education Coordinator for more information and to register. Station study materials and other information can be found on the PA Envirothon website.
Trout in the Classroom
Supported by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) and the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited (PATU), the PA Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program is an educational program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade in which they learn about coldwater conservation and its relationship to watershed management, while raising trout from egg to fingerling within their own classroom. With the support of local environmental professionals, the year-long curriculum covers topics such as aquatic ecosystems, habitats, and conservation strategies to protect and enhance coldwater resources.
After completing the required registration forms and equipment set-up, trout eggs are received in early January and will grow to fingerling size by May. At this time, the class will complete their outdoor field experience by releasing their trout into a PFBC-Approved Stocked Trout Water. This experience is often accompanied by other presentations and activities.
Our district and local TU chapter - Oil Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited - can provide assistance to first-time and veteran teachers involved in the TIC program. Please reach out to our education coordinator for more info. Visit the PA Trout in the Classroom website for more information.
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE)
A Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, or a "MWEE" is a student-centered curriculum that focuses on investigating real and local environmental issues that combine critical thinking and outdoor experiences into action-oriented civic engagement. Teachers present unbiased information and assist students throughout the experience, while students work through the inquiry process and develop an action plan. A MWEE is guided by four essential elements: Issue Definition, Outdoor Field Experiences, Synthesis and Conclusion, and Stewardship and Civic Action.
Planning a MWEE is a great way to align teaching goals with the new Pennsylvania standards for environmental literacy and sustainability. Our role at the district is to help plan outdoor field experiences during a MWEE project, but we can assist in any of the four essential elements of the program. Contact our education coordinator, or visit the Bay Backpack website to learn more.
Remake Learning Days
Remake Learning Days is a festival of events held each spring hosted by entities such as schools, businesses, libraries, after school organizations, parks, and many more. Participating organizations host events that are hands-on and engaging educational experiences for youth and their families. Learning themes include Arts, Maker, Outdoor Learning, Science, Technology, and Youth Voice.
Our district began participating in the 2023 Remake Learning Days - Northwestern PA festival with our "Stream Investigation" event held in partnership with Oil Creek State Park. We look forward to continued participation with a new topic each year. For more information and to search for events in your area, visit the Remake Learning Days website.
Pennsylvania STEELS Academic Standards
Teachers... With the implementation of the new PA Department of Education's Science, Technology, Engineering, Environmental Literacy, and Sustainability (STEELS) standards, the original academic standards for Science & Technology (2002) and Environment & Ecology (2002) will be sunset on June 30, 2025. We are here to help you transition! Reach out to us for assistance with programs that venture beyond the classroom and will prepare your students for the new testing requirements.
The STEELS Hub contains resources for implementing the new standards, and provides important updates.
Pennsylvania State Parks also offers professional development opportunities for formal and non-formal educators. These trainings offer Act 48 hours and align with state standards. Click here to see upcoming trainings.
Follow our Facebook page to stay up to date on upcoming educational events and learning topics!
We offer a variety of watershed education programs that utilize the Enviroscape® table. An Enviroscape is a 3-D environmental display that showcases nonpoint source pollution examples across different types of land use. Children and adults alike learn how pollutants such as fertilizer, manure, industrial waste, and erosion contribute to poor water quality in their communities.
Urban Wildlife Kit
The district loans out an Urban Wildlife Kit that contains tanned animal furs, skull replicas, and tracks and scat molds. This kit is useful for studying for the annual Envirothon competition and is used for wildlife identification educational programs. If you are a Venango County educator and would like to loan this kit, please contact our education coordinator for more details.
We have hidden 2 geocaches at Two Mile Run County Park as part of our "Environmental Adventure" series. Hunting for geocaches is a great way to get outside and explore new places. Whether you like to enjoy the scenery, get exercise, or trade for swag, there's something for everyone while playing this worldwide game. Download the free Geocaching® app and start logging your finds!
- Pennsylvania Association for Environmental Educators
- North American Association for Environmental Education
- Project Learning Tree
- Project WET
- Project WILD
- PA Gateway to Green
- PA Fish & Boat Commission - Education
- PA Game Commission - Education
- PA DCNR - Education
- PA DEP - Education
- EPA Environmental Education Guidelines