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Help for Educators from PA State Parks

Summer PA State Parks e-blast


July/August 2020

Remote Learning Resources for Teachers

Teacher Professional Development


How are you? Are you hanging in there? Wondering what this school year will bring? This issue contains virtual and in-person teacher professional development courses; distance learning resources; webinars and virtual conferences; info. on finding PA State Park programs for kids and teens; resources for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI); PA State Park updates; and more.


PA State Parks is so grateful to be a haven for you, your students, and your family. This May, Pennsylvania state park attendance increased by 1.5 million, up 40% from 2019. Reports from trail systems around the state indicate increases in usage from 40% - 200%! Please help us to keep park facilities open and safe by continuing to practice Leave No Trace. Do your part to make the experience healthy and enjoyable for you and others by practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask when entering a park building or when not able to maintain social distancing outside.




DCNR PA State Parks are OPEN!

Before you visit a PA State Park, please visit the park’s individual page.

Find park pages here


Masks are required to be worn to enter all park buildings (including Park Offices & restrooms) and during Environmental Education programming. Wear a mask outdoors when you cannot social distance.


Almost all DCNR facilities and Programs are OPEN:

·         PA State Parks with Environmental Educators on staff are now offering Environmental Education programming. Most programs require pre-registration. Explore the DCNR events calendar for details and to register.

·         All state park beaches are open. Capacity at beaches & associated parking areas are limited to 75% of normal capacity.

·         All but 2* PA State Park swimming pools are now open. Capacity at pools is limited to 50% of normal capacity.

·         All Pavilions are open and are able to be reserved.

·         All PA State Park Offices are open. Exhibit halls/Visitor Centers are now open.

·         All PA State Park Family Campgrounds, Organized Group Tenting areas, and roofed overnight options (such as cabins, cottages, yurts, etc.) are open. Demand is very high, make a reservation.


DCNR facilities not opening for 2020:

·         *Due to necessary maintenance work, swimming pools at Ryerson Station State Park, Greene County, and Codorus State Park, York County will not be opening for the 2020 season.

·         All group cabin camps will remain closed for 2020.


You can help keep state parks safe for all by following these practices:

·         Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads

·         Using the restroom before you leave your house

·         Bring a bag and either carry out your trash or dispose of it properly

·         Clean up after pets

·         Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, so you don’t require a trip to the emergency room

To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and protect others, and still enjoy the outdoors:

·         Don’t hike or recreate in groups -- go with those under the same roof and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)

·         Wear a mask

·         Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly

·         Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose

·         Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow

·         If you are sick, stay home


Distance Learning Resources/Lessons



·         Try out Mission Conservation’s educational mobile gaming platform which uses augmented reality to engage youth in Image Recognition (IR) Missions that young learners can play and share with their community. New Missions will launch every Monday. Everyone is encouraged to participate in Mission Mondays – It’s totally FREE on the Agents of Discovery app available on the App Store and Google Play.


·         Nature journaling is a way to creatively connect and build a deep, lasting relationship with the natural world. Check out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) 12-part blog series that offers inspirational nature journaling prompts for students of all ages. Use them to encourage your students to make observations about their surroundings and to express themselves through writing and drawing.


·         Check out BeastBox from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wildlife DJ and Beatboxer Ben Mirin! Ben travels the world collecting the voices of wild animals that catch his attention. Layering his own Beatbox loops with his favorite animal voices, he makes music inspired by the ecosystems he visits. Students can be wildlife DJs while learning about habitats! The BeastBox game and free lessons explore how animals use sound to communicate within the ecosystems they live in. Students can work independently to sort animals into habitats, unlock cool beats, and create unique BeastBox music. Content is ideal for students in grades 4-8. BeastBox is NOT the only free, online game from Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Check out all of the interactive nature-gaming resources!


·         Here are 100 things you can do with or without your family


·         Screen-Free Steps to Deepen your Connection to Nature during Quarantine

·         29 Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids 



·         Free Project FeederWatch Memberships for Teachers! Thanks to a generous donation, Project FeederWatch is giving away 50 free memberships to teachers. Apply by July 31. A note regarding COVID-19: Because so much is unknown about this coming school year, if your school is selected and then you are unable to take advantage of the membership because of COVID-19-related restrictions, let us know, and we will carry over the gift membership to the following season (2021-22). If you have any questions, please email


·         Learn about camouflage and animal adaptations using the Hide-n-Seek with wildlife Slideshow. Try to find the animals on each slide as they camouflage with their surroundings. Check your answers in the next slide. Created by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. 


·         Discover the secrets behind the wild weather with these four fun science experiments. With stuff you’ve got around the house, kids can become mini-meteorologists and create clouds, trigger “lightning strikes,” and record barometric pressure. 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Resources for Educators


DCNR's Vision

To conserve and maintain Pennsylvania’s public natural resources for the benefit of all people, including generations yet to come, we will take intentional action to ensure DCNR lands are accessible to all, provide inclusive and equitable programs and services, and recruit and retain a diverse workforce.



·         NAAEE Equity Resources Compiled by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)

·         NAI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources - Compiled by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI)

·         DCNR’s Outdoors for All - A Pennsylvania-wide effort created by the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)- Bureau of State Parks to create Recreation for All, the Pennsylvania Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to overcome real and perceived barriers in the outdoors through enhanced access, amenities, and programs.

·         Black Lives Matter Virtual Library - Click on any book in the collection to be able to see the book and have it read to you!

·         Five Ways to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive -Created by a group of prominent outdoor experts and advocates. The actions are broadly applicable.

·          The diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) guide was developed by The Chesapeake Bay Trust, The Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, and the Choose Clean Water Coalition. It recommends how organizations and schools can increase DEIJ within their organizations.



·         Grab Your Compass and Rotate the Bezel in the Direction of Social Justice: An Orienteering Adventure Webinar with Mary Breuing

·         Wednesday, July 15, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

·         Fee: Free

·         From the the Association for Experiential Education (AEE)

·         I live on the ancestral lands of the Southern Maidu, Miwok, Nisenan, and Patwin peoples of Northern California. As a White settler, I acknowledge my complicity in the colonialism and racism that have led to the historical erasure, land appropriation, and oppression of many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). As a White outdoor experiential educator, I am particularly mindful of what it means to be a social and environmental justice educator and activist dedicated to decolonizing my own teaching and praxis. As I contemplate this historical moment in time, I am increasingly aware that I need to do better. We all need to do better.

·         This webinar will explore the topics of privilege, unconscious bias, intersectionality, social justice competency, and accomplice-ship. Please join Mary in (re)orienting your compass toward a more socially just world.  Register Here


·         Equity in STEM Education: The Connection to Culture (held on May 27, 2020) When you think about diversity; how does it show itself? When you stand before your students, do the faces looking back at you look like your own? Most likely your answer is "no". Classrooms, and out-of-school time programs are becoming more culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse, which is leading to both, challenges and opportunities for educators. A big challenge is often students and educators do not have the same cultural, ethnic, or social background. How can you bridge this disconnect, and why does it matter? Join us to learn about research-based practices on cultural responsiveness. A powerful approach that spans the cultural divide that often exists between educators and students and allows educators to improve STEM engagement and equity. Watch the recording and access the materials. Free!


·         Juneteenth: We Need to Talk Webinar - On Juneteenth 2020, the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office hosted this candid conversation among a group of distinguished Black professionals in the conservation community. The group explores the intersection of race, history, and the outdoors, and its relationship to shared work in connecting people with and conserving Chesapeake’s important places. It's honest, open, thoughtful and inspiring. Watch the amazing webinar - Free!



 This National Park Service (NPS) short film is a breathtaking timely hymn of hope and resiliency, and a new standard-bearer for telling the most important stories. “Twenty and Odd” offers a culturally relevant and personalized approach to digital storytelling. It was created and produced by a team of African American interns, fellows, and an Indian American director working for the National Park Service. View the short film and use the accompanying companion guideFYI- the film starts out silent.


Set against 400 years of suffering, healing, and strength, the film's producers worked to artfully recognize the innumerable contributions of African Americans to the foundation of the United States. “Twenty & Odd” serves as a visual tool to inform, highlight, and educate the nation as a whole about the trauma, resilience, and beauty of the African American experience in our country through the lens of national parks and historic sites that honor these stories and experiences.


The narrative for "Twenty & Odd" is Maya Angelou’s remarkable spoken piece, "Still I Rise." Through its voice and imagery, the film advances messages of African American empowerment, remembrance, education, inspiration, and engagement.


The film’s title is taken from a quote from English colonist John Rolfe describing the number of the first enslaved Africans brought to Virginia in 1619. The film's creative team chose the title to reclaim the power of Rolfe’s phrasing that suggested these enslaved Africans were so insignificant they could not even bother to be properly counted.

You can also hear directly from the creative team ithis interview conducted by the National Park Foundation.


Twenty & Odd Film Image


Families are connecting with the outdoors more than ever during the ongoing pandemic. Are there some ways DCNR- PA State Parks can help create safer, more welcoming experiences for all? If so, please send suggestions to Christine Ticehurst at


Distance Learning & Online Learning Resources

for Outdoor Recreation Teachers


NAAEE Releases Guidance for School Reopening: How Environmental Educators and Learning Outdoors Can Help! Here's eeGuidance for Reopening Schools Document, environmental and outdoor education: key to equitably reopening schools


10 Ways To Help Your Child Fall In Love With Nature This Summer

With many summer camps closed and or parents opting to keep children home this summer here are some inspiring options to get children engaged in nature.


Webinars/Virtual Conferences



2020 Virtual Educators Ag Institute

Every Thursday (starting July 9); one morning & one afternoon session each Thursday

Act 48: Earn up to 20 hrs.

Fee: Free!

The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to increase agricultural literacy among students, teachers, and the community is hosting a virtual version of their annual Educator’s Ag Institute. It is our goal to share resources and ideas that are compatible with digital learning and in-person learning as we know educators are working very hard to adapt to the changes the upcoming school year may bring.

Educators that participate can also gain access to standards-aligned resources for incorporating agriculture into their classroom/program. As a bonus, participants have a chance to earn a gift card to the National Ag in the Classroom store to purchase science kits, posters, and other resources for their classrooms. Registration is required. Questions? Contact Executive Director Charlene Espenshade.


River of the Year: Delaware River Webinar Series, Episode 1: The Intersection of Science and Policy for Clean Water and a Healthy River

Tuesday, July 21, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Fee: Free!

Join Dave Arscott, President of the Stroud Water Research Center and Bob Ivin, President of American Rivers as we introduce the 2020 River of the Year- the Delaware River. This four-part webinar series will kick off with an introduction to how science helps to guide policy to ensure the health of our freshwater systems. Featured speakers will be Ted Illston, senior director of policy and government relations at American Rivers, and John Jackson, senior research scientist at the Stroud Center. This webinar is free and open to the public, but you must register.


Stay-IN-STITUTE for Climate Change Education- A Virtual Conference

July 22 - 24

Fee: $150.00 Pre-registration required by July 13

2 graduate credits or continuing education credits

Join together with educators from around the country for a virtual training on climate change education! Gain the skills, tools, and resources to teach climate change concepts and empower students in all subject areas, and receive on-going support throughout the year. This three-day experience will take you beyond your computer screen and into your neighborhood to practice data collection and explore local climate solutions.

Scholarships are available. Presented by Climate Generation, NOAA, and the Wild Center's Youth Climate Program. More details/registration.


Hidden World of Stream Insects Webinar

Friday, August 14, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Fee: Free!

For the past 35 years, Stroud Water Research Center Entomologist, David Funk, has collected and sampled macroinvertebrates in streams around the world. In the process, he has taken stunning photos of those insects using special equipment he developed for taking in-stream photos. Funk’s photographs have appeared in numerous books and magazines, including Natural History, Scientific American, Ranger Rick, National Wildlife, Wings (Xerces Society), BBC Wildlife, and Nature Australia. This event is free to attend, but you must register


July, August, & September Educator Hybrid and

In-person Professional Development Workshops


All in-person workshop dates and locations are subject to change due to COVID-19 impacts. Registering for a workshop will ensure that you receive any and all updates. Due to the current circumstances, we are sharing professional development offerings through September 2020.



Project WET/Wonders of Wetlands! Educator Workshop

Tuesday, July 14, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm

Frances Slocum State Park565 Mt. Olivet Rd, Wyoming, PA 18644

Act 48: 6 hrs.

Fee: $10.00 payable in advance; pre-registration is required.

Project WET and Wonders of Wetlands (WOW!) are hands-on, interdisciplinary resources and activity guides which integrate water and wetland education into every school subject. This workshop is open to all educators who work with students from grades K-12, from formal teachers to naturalists, scout leaders, and others! Earn 6 Act 48 hours while experiencing hands-on activities related to water and wetlands. Participants will receive the Project WET Curriculum & Activity Guide 2.0 and the Wonders of Wetlands (WOW!) K-12 Teachers Guide and other relevant resources. Bring a sack lunch and shoes that can get wet/muddy.

Registration for this workshop is limited. For more information, contact Kathy Kelchner at or 570-696-9105.


Clarion River History Educator Workshop

Thursday, August 13 - Saturday, August 15, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm each day

Cook Forest State Park (new Park Office), 100 RT 36, Cooksburg, PA 16217

Act 48: 23 hrs.

Fee: $125 payable in advance by 8/7/20; pre-registration is required

Cook Forest State Park will be conducting a three-day Clarion River History Educator Workshop. This course is an advanced DCNR Watershed Education (WE) and a DCNR Pennsylvania Land Choices workshop. Teachers will receive a copy of the DCNR PA Land Choices curriculum, as well as copies of True Tales of the Clarion RiverDinkies Dams & Sawdust: The Logging Railroads of West Central Pennsylvania-Book #12, and Expedition of Celoron to the Ohio Country in 1749. Participants will receive copies of limited lessons from the WE curriculum. 

This workshop will emphasize history of the Clarion River through various 1st person living history character portrayals during the mid-1700’s French & Indian War and mid 1800’s lumber boom era. Teachers will also investigate and document various lumber ghost towns and raft fabrication sites along the  Clarion River via car & canoe, as well as gain valuable insight into how local history can be incorporated into the classroom. Day 1 will focus on learning history through “living history”. Day 2 will be an historic site investigation from land. Day 3 will be historic site investigation via canoe. 

Please bring your own bag lunch, refreshments provided. Be prepared to be in the river being wet and muddy most days. Sturdy river shoes are a must. Sneakers are good, those with flip-flops will not be allowed to participate. Participants are encouraged to wear modest swimming gear on Day 2 & 3. Participants must be able to traverse slippery footing conditions and steep river banks. All boating gear provided. Register by contacting Dale Luthringer, EES at Cook Forest State Park at (814)744-8475 or . Secure registration by 8/7/20 with a $125 check or money order made out to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and sent to: Cook Forest State Park, ATTN: Clarion River History, P.O. Box 120, Cooksburg, PA 16217.


Growing Up WILD Facilitator Training

Thursday, September 17, 10:00 am to 2:30 pm

Laurel Hill State Park, Scenic View Lodge1454 Laurel Hill Park Road, Somerset, PA

Fee: Free!

Act 48: 4 hrs.

Growing Up WILD (GUW) is a national, award-winning, standards-based early childhood (ages 3-7) education program that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. All potential facilitators who attend the entire training session will receive their own full-color GUW Activity Guide which includes 27 field-tested activities that include art, reading, music, math, snacks, and outdoor learning.


This workshop will train participants to become GUW Workshop facilitators. Facilitators are able to offer GUW Educator workshops on their own. Facilitators must commit to providing at least one GUW workshop every 5 years to maintain active facilitator status. This workshop

will be interactive, occur both indoors and outdoors, and participants will be asked to co-lead a GUW activity for the group (all materials provided). More details will be sent prior to the training.

This training is open to both DCNR-PA State Parks Education staff, other Commonwealth of PA agency Education staff, and non-Commonwealth of PA Educators (formal & non-formal).

Free! Lodging not provided. Act 48 hours will be provided to certified teachers. Space is limited; register early. Each participant is responsible for their own overnight lodging and travel expenses. Beverages & breaks provided. More details will be sent prior to the training.

Questions? For Information contact, Carissa Longo, PA Project WILD Coordinator at or 717-772-1807. Pre-registration is required. Space is limited.


The Wonders of Wetlands (WOW) Educator Workshop

Saturday, September 12, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Moraine State Park – State Parks Region 2 Office (Conference Room)

195 Park Road, 528 Prospect, PA 16052-2013

Act 48: 7 hrs.

Fee: $20.00; pre-registration is required

 “The Wonders of Wetlands” is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, hands-on curriculum for grade levels K-12 focusing on the three definitive wetland parameters:  Water, Soil, and Plants. Wetlands play an essential part in the lives of both wildlife and people and are one of the highest producing ecosystems in the world. Join State Park Staff from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to learn all about utilizing wetlands as an investigative tool in your classroom. During this workshop, we’ll take a look at the characteristics and the role of wetlands in our ecosystem, as well as how plants and animals have adapted to wetland life. During the afternoon, participants will go on a Wetlands & Wildlife Kayak Paddle on Lake Arthur to see wetlands up close and personal, and to learn how to identify wetland plants; including aquatic invasive plants and their effects on the ecosystem. Participants will receive the Wonders of Wetlands curriculum guide. All equipment will be provided. Registration is required. For more information or to register, please contact Environmental Education Specialist Mike Shaffer at or 724 368-8811.


GO Teach Hiking 101 Educator Workshop

Tuesday, September 15, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Nolde Forest EE Center, 2910 New Holland Rd., Reading, PA 19607

Act 48: 6.5 hrs.

Fee: $15.00/pre-registration is required.

Hiking is more than putting on a pair of boots and walking in the woods. It’s a lifelong recreational activity that can increase one’s stamina, endurance, and athleticism. It’s also the basis of numerous other recreations including backpacking, orienteering, and geocaching.

Learn how to enable your students to discover Penn’s Woods through an interdisciplinary set of lessons created by the PA Bureau of State Parks. Lessons focus on health, fitness, and trip planning; map reading and identifying local trails; forest ecology as well as nature journaling. The lessons address several PA Physical Education & Health academic standards as well as standards for Geography, Science & Ecology, and the Humanities.

The course is designed for teachers and outdoor educators and 6.5 Act 48 hours will be available for participants. Please bring your PPID number. 

 Please note that we will be following the latest CDC social distancing guidelines at this workshop. Masks will be required for times in which social distancing cannot be observed, so please be sure to have one available.

Registration and payment required by September 11, 2020. To register, please click the "buy tickets" link in the upper right corner to reserve your spot and follow the payment directions in the registration email. 


PA Songbirds Educator Workshop

Saturday, September 19, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Rickets Glen State Park Visitor Center, 695 State Route 487, Benton, PA 17814

Act 48: 5.5 hrs

Fee: $10.00 payable in advance; pre-registration is required.

Pennsylvania Songbirds is a hands-on, interdisciplinary, K-12 educators’ resource and activity guide about Pennsylvania specific songbirds. This workshop is open to all educators who work with students from pre-K to twelfth grade, from formal teachers to naturalists, scout leaders, and others! Earn 5.5 Act 48 hours while experiencing hands-on activities. Participants will receive Pennsylvania Songbirds: K-12 Teacher’s Guide for Activities in the Classroom and other relevant resources. Bring a mask, a sack lunch, and dress for outdoor fun.

Registration for this workshop is limited and is required by Friday, September 11, 2020

Registration for this workshop is limited. Click here to register. Contact Rhiannon Summers, EES at or 570-477-7780 for more information.



Find programs for kids and teens on the

DCNR Calendar of Events.

Go to


Note: COVID-19 guidelines and ensuring participants and DCNR staff safety may lead to program alterations. Reach out to the park offering the program for more details.






Carissa Longo, Environmental Education Program Coordinator


Christine TicehurstRecreation and Interpretation Coordinator



Visit the DCNR Events Calendar- Teacher Workshops to find additional training opportunities!


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