Conservation Education: Effective Program Design

February 2022 offering has been canceled

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


Course Overview

Conservation Education: Effective Program Design provides zoo and aquarium educators with a comprehensive overview of how to design, develop, implement and evaluate education programs and exhibit interpretive elements. Course materials include the latest research and trends in informal science education.

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

Is This Course Right For You?

This course is designed for zoo and aquarium staff that has either direct responsibility for education programs at their institutions, or for those staff who have an interest in, or connection to, education. Zoo and aquarium educators, volunteer/docent managers, exhibit design staff, children’s zoo 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

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*:
Standard Rooms/Byrd Wing
~$830 per person quad occupancy (Shared Room)
~$890 per person triple occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1020 per person double occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1390 per person single occupancy

Deluxe Rooms/West Wing
~$860 per person quad occupancy (Shared Room)
~$930 per person triple occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1080 per person double occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1500 per person single occupancy

Premium Rooms/Lakeside Wing
~$890 per person quad occupancy (Shared Room)
~$970 per person triple occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1130 per person double occupancy (Shared Room)
~$1620 per person single occupancy

*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.

Course Registration

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. 

For information regarding our registration and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page. Accepted forms of payment for registration are by credit card, check, or purchase order. 

To register with a credit card
You may now register and pay online with a credit card! Non-members can log in too, after creating a free account. After logging in, choose "Professional Development" from the menu on the left. Next, click on the title of the event for which you would like to register. Finally, choose "Event Registration" from the options at the top and complete the registration process. When registering online, there is no need to submit the registration form. You will receive an acceptance email or waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. 

To register with a check or purchase order
Please email your request to register, specifying the course and the name of whom you would like to register, to the Professional Development Coordinator.
Checks sent for course payment will be cashed immediately upon receipt as per standard business practices. Cashing your check does not indicate that you have been accepted into a course. You will receive an acceptance email or a waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. If you are not admitted into the course from the waitlist, a full refund will be promptly issued.  

*Prices are subject to change

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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