Conservation Education: Leadership for an Evolving Field

Hosted by Oglebay Resort
Wheeling, WV
February 2022

The purpose of this course is to provide zoo and aquarium conservation education leaders with the skills necessary to effectively lead their teams and continue to advance education initiatives across our industry. The primary target audience is conservation education leaders, from supervisors and managers to department directors at AZA institutions. This week-long course will include presentations, discussions, hands-on activities, and role playing. Students will build leadership competencies, advance their understanding of behavior change and conservation psychology, and learn how to create an inclusive culture at their own institutions.

Course Topics

Behavior Change and Conservation Psychology

  • Relevant Models in Behavior Change Theory
  • Affective Outcomes for Zoos and Aquariums
  • Planning for Change

Building Leadership Competencies

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Advocacy and Influence

Creating an Inclusive Culture

  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Accessibility Initiatives
  • Inclusion Initiatives


  • Outcomes-based Program Evaluation
  • Developing Evaluation Instruments
  • Creating a Culture that Values Evaluation


Leanne WhiteDirector of Education - Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Chad Fifer
, Director of Education - Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Rebecca Nellis, Program Manager - Columbus Zoo & Aquarium 
Shareen Knowlton, Director of Education - Roger Williams Park Zoo
Elise Bernardoni, Assistant Director, Education Programs/Safari Day Camps Director - Smithsonian's National Zoo
Kyle Huetter, Education Manager - Disney's Animal Kingdom
Kathayoon Khalil, Conservation Impact Manager - Oregon Zoo

Is This Course Right for You?

Managers/Supervisors and above in accredited zoos and aquariums, working either in conservation education departments, or working to advance conservation education initiatives at their institutions. 


Conservation Education: Effective Program Design OR equivalent experience. Priority will be given to individuals associated with AZA-accredited institutions. If you are not employed by a zoo or aquarium, please submit a letter describing your interest in taking the course to for consideration.

Course Schedule  

First Day
 - Student registration
 - Opening evening ceremony
 - Courses meet for individual opening session/class

- Classes meet all day

Last Day
- Classes meet
- Closing Ceremony

Attendance for course participants is required for the duration of the course until the evening of the last day. As a result, individuals generally depart the following day. Attendees will receive a detailed schedule for their course after their registration is confirmed.  

Course Travel & Registration

Travel & Accommodations

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is the closest airport. Airport Limousine Plus and First Class Limo provide a shuttle service between PIT and the hotel.

Course participants stay at Oglebay Resort & Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia and classes meet on-site. All lodging reservations are priced per person at a package rate. Your accommodations will include all: breakfast, lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the entirety of your stay. 

General Package Pricing*:
~$1150 Standard Double Room Package (Shared Room)
~$1370 Standard Single Room Package
~$1200 Deluxe Double Room Package (Shared Room)
~$1500 Deluxe Single Room Package
~$1260 Premium Double Room Package (Shared Room)
~$1600 Premium Single Room Package
~$1150 Cottage Package (Shared Cottage - 6 person maximum)
*Package pricing rates are all-inclusive and per person. Prices are subject to change 

Please wait until you are admitted into the course before making your reservations. You will receive an email containing detailed information regarding your accommodations and transportation once you are admitted. 

Tuition & Expenses*

The AZA registration fee below only covers tuition for the course. Other expenses include hotel, travel, and meals which are included at a package rate with lodging accommodations. For more information about costs and logistics for courses hosted by Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, WV, visit our Wheeling Courses Travel Information page. Registration prices are subject to change. 
Scholarship funding for courses is available through a competitive process.

AZA scholarship applications are due by mid-July and are awarded by early September. 

AZA Accredited / Certified Institutions*
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$950 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1150 without Individual AZA Membership

Regular RateDeadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1150 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1350 without Individual AZA Membership

Individual Membership must be Professional Affiliate or Professional Fellow to qualify. 

Non-AZA Institutions
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1150 with Professional Associate Membership

Regular RateDeadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1350 with Professional Associate Membership

Individual Membership Requirement
Staff from non-AZA accredited institutions must have an individual AZA membership to apply and register for an AZA course. 

Accepted forms of payment for registration are by: credit card, check or purchase order. 

For information regarding our code of conduct, registration, and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page.

*Prices are subject to change

Questions? For additional details please contact the AZA Professional Development Department.

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