2016 Conference



Please let us know how we did this year by filling out this evaluation (MS Word 18K).

Download the full conference program here (pdf, 13MB), or scroll down this page to learn more about this exciting conference!

Conference Registration is now closed.

If you registered for the conference but did NOT register with Watson Homestead, please email this form (pdf, 135K) to watsondonna@stny.rr.com as soon as possible!




Download important information and reminders here.

Questions? Email conferencecommittee2016@nysoea.org


Watson HomesteadLocated on the Finger Lakes Trail just 10 minutes from Corning, New York, Watson Homestead and Retreat Center provides the perfect setting for educators to refresh and recharge at the 2016 NYSOEA Conference, “Portals to the Outdoors.” The retreat center includes hiking trails, a waterfall, a labyrinth, a historic schoolhouse, recreational facilities, and even a “Homestead Mercantile” gift shop selling hand-made and locally-produced items. The conference center offers a range of lodging options, from hotel-style rooms to dormitory style retreat centers, allowing us to keep the conference affordable for our members.

Corning, NY


Workshops strands like “Viewing Nature through Art” and “Nature Maker” will swing open our minds to creative teaching techniques, while workshops in the “STEM from Nature” and “Classroom Connections” strands will frame practical skills and techniques for engaging children in nature study.

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass



To supplement your experience at workshops in the conference strands “Pathways to the Past” and “Viewing Nature Through Art,” you can explore new gateways at two nearby world-class museums: the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum are providing FREE ADMISSION for conference attendees from November 2 to November 7. Show your conference I.D. at each museum’s guest services desk and receive free admission. (Planning to visit November 2 or 3rd? Contact conferencecommittee2016@nysoea.org to arrange for early pickup of your conference I.D.)

The museums are also offering a pre-conference workshop, free with your conference registration (see below for more information).


Jennifer Pharr Davis


Jennifer Pharr Davis Hiker, author, adventure speaker, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year



The final conference strand is “Nurturing Nature,” where we will explore how outdoor education can be a gateway to healthy lives and a healthy planet. In keeping with this strand, we are excited to announce that the 2016 Keynote Speaker will be long-distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis. Davis was the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and she holds the record for the fastest hike (male or female) on the entire Appalachian Trail. She will talk about her own journey to sustainability and the health benefits of nature.

View the Jennifer Pharr Davis Press Kit




Paul Stillman has been performing historical characters in educational programs for schools, youth and other organizations for more than 30 years.  On Saturday afternoon, he’ll provide a “Pathway to the Past” with his representation of our 26th president, former governor and famed conservationist Teddy Roosevelt.



In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th birthday. While most people associate the NPS with large western parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, New York is home to numerous historic and natural sites administered or guided by the National Park Service. This special presentationwill help us celebrate the NPS 100th birthday by exploring some of what New York has to offer.

Sara Capen is Executive Director of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, one of 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States. Created by Congress, National Heritage Areas further the mission of the National Park Service by fostering community stewardship of our nation’s heritage.

A former classroom teacher, Sara is an experienced educator who understands the importance of place-based education and fostering a sense of stewardship for our natural and historic places. She applies that same philosophy at Niagara University where she serves as an adjunct professor in the College of Hospitality. Sara serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of National Heritage Areas.


Mama Earth (Susan Rozler)

Susan Rozler, a.k.a. Mama Earth

Susan Rozler, a.k.a. Mama Earth

Singer-song writer Susan Rozler, a.k.a. Mama Earth, will be the Artist-in-Residence at the conference. Mama Earth will be sharing her love of music and nature with conference-goers in casual sing-alongs and formal workshop sessions.

Susie Rozler hails from the land of the peepers and crabapples just outside of Buffalo, New York.  A professional musician, music and nature teacher, puppeteer, voice-over artist, comedian, and naturalist, she breathes fun into outdoor education for people of all ages! She has entertained all over the eastern U.S. with her Mama Earth and Erie Canal shows, the Hill Brothers and the Sid Winkler Band. As a mother, grandmother and avid gardener, her goal is to use music to encourage people (big and little) to create healthy outdoor spaces.

NYSOEA GIVES BACK: Kid’s Winter Gear Drive 

NYSOEA members pride themselves on encouraging all children to experience nature outdoors. In an effort to support children in the local community hosting our conference, we are holding a “Kid’s Winter Gear Drive” to benefit a local organization, Family Service Society, Inc., that operates youth programs in the Corning area.



Friday night the grounds of Watson Homestead make the perfect setting for an “Evening Under the Stars.” Guests will take a hayride to a creek-side bonfire for stargazing (using the Homestead’s telescopes) and s’mores followed by live music and dancing with the band Blue Eyed Soul in a nearby hall.

Make and Take Fair

In keeping with the “Nature Maker” strand, on Sunday morning conference attendees will have the chance to participate in a “Make and Take Fair.” Attendees will learn to make something to take home and use as a potential program or classroom activity – or just enjoy learning a new skill!  The Make and Take sessions are being held in a large space, so people will be able to make their one object but also circulate to see what others are making.

Sessions include:


  • Devonian Fossil Kit
  • Musical African/South American Music Shaker
  • Tree Cross Section Visual Aide
  • Folded Journals
  • Happiness Jar!
  • Make your Own Paracord Survival Bracelet
  • Pressed Botanicals
  • Migratory Bird Hanging Mobiles
  • Repurposed Gatorade Bottle Bird Feeder
  • Embroidered Rose Petal Stationery
  • Pages of a Book
  • And more (PDF, 357K)!


Art and Nature: See, Learn, Connect and Discuss at Two Museums

Thursday, November 3 from 1:00 – 4:30 PM


The Rockwell Museum – Corning, NY


Explore ways of Viewing Nature Through Art at two local museums.  Start at The Rockwell Museum with a guided tour of Art of the National Parks, marking the centennial celebration for the National Park Service and its creation of nature destinations such as Yosemite and Grand Canyon national parks.  Then travel to The Corning Museum of Glass for a tour and discussion of glass as both a natural and man-made material and the ways artists have used glass to depict nature and explore ideas of the environment. Space is limited so register early. (Registration is full- email conferencecommittee2016@nysoea.org to be placed on the waitlist.)


CPA/AED Training

Thursday, November 3 from 2- 5 PM at Watson Homestead

Medical emergencies happen every day in any setting. Are you prepared to help? Would you like to be? Maybe you need re-certification? Join us for Adult/Child/Infant, CPR/AED training. There is a $20.00 certification fee required. Space is limited so register early. (You can register for this program along with your main conference registration)

Instructors: Jacqueline Citriniti and Brian DeGroat


Whether you are a classroom teacher or camp director, outdoor expert or nature novice, this year’s conference offers can’t-miss workshops and field trip opportunities! Workshops are organized into six strands:

  • Viewing Nature Through Artusing art to promote an understanding of, and appreciation for, the natural world
  • Pathways to the Past: using the outdoors to connect to our natural, social, and geologic histories
  • STEM from Nature: workshops that use nature to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
  • Nurturing Nature: outdoor education as a gateway to healthy lives and a healthy planet
  • Nature Maker: integrating natural materials to make everything from simple kids’ crafts to woodcarvings
  • Classroom Connections: helping educators connect their classroom to nature using standards-based techniques

You can view a list of most conference workshops organized by

Additionally you can view workshop descriptions Workshops in Depth (PDF, 503K)

Besides traditional workshop sessions, you can take a field trip to Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum  or to a Finger Lakes Land Trust preserve (details to be announced).

(Still interested in presenting but missed the deadline? Email conferencecommittee2016@nysoea.org)


Exhibitor, Vendor and Sponsor Information

Interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring the conference?



Finger Lakes Tourism LogoTour the Finger Lakes Region before/after the conference.