Foundations of Conservation Learning

Hosted by Oglebay Resort
Wheeling, WV
February 13-18, 2023

Foundations of Conservation Learning provides zoo and aquarium professionals with a comprehensive overview of how to design, develop, implement and evaluate learning experiences. Course materials include the latest research and trends in conservation education.

This course was formerly titled "Conservation Education: Creating Effective Learning Experiences." Course content has been updated for Spring 2023.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, participants will be better able to:

  • Assess needs, design and develop education programs, and evaluate programs and exhibits

  • Utilize zoo and aquarium industry trends and audience research in program development

  • Employ new strategies and activities to convey conservation messages

  • Collaborate more effectively with other zoo and aquarium departments

  • Enhance management skills of budgeting, team building, strategic planning, and partnerships

  • Develop the tools needed to participate in local, regional, and international projects

  • Assess the issues related to the use of technology for their own institutions

  • Exchange information and ideas on marketing and implementing programs for children, families, and adults

  • Work with a team to develop a program idea and formulate a presentation for the instructors

  • Network with other educators and build relationships for future collaboration and information sharing

  • Obtain references and resources

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 is required for course participants 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. 


Elise Bernardoni, Director of Education - Conservation Nation
James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation - The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Chad FiferDirector of Education - Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Kyle Huetter
, Content Development Manager - Disney's Animal Kingdom
Kathayoon Khalil, Director of Engagement - Zoo Advisors
Shareen Knowlton, Director of Education - Roger Williams Park Zoo
Rebecca Nellis, Director of Education - The Wilds
Leanne White, Director of Education - Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Is This Course Right For You?

This course is for zoo and aquarium staff that has either direct responsibility for education experiences or projects at their institutions, or for those staff who have an interest in, or connection to, creating experiences that inspire conservation action. Educators, volunteer/docent managers, exhibit design staff, animal care staff, librarians, marketing, development and public relations staff will benefit from participation in this course.

None. Priority will be given to AZA members. Those not affiliated with an AZA-accredited institution will be considered on a case-by-case basis;  please submit a letter describing your intended benefit from taking this course to for consideration.

Travel & Accommodations

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

Lodging information coming soon.

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 breakfast, lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the entirety of your stay. 

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.

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

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

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