The Ruth Engelbrecht Scholarship is open to all interested educators, especially those teaching in central New York. No experience with birds or the outdoors is required to attend this camp, only an eagerness for providing more environmental education in your classroom and a willingness to use the tips this camp will provide to you.

The Ruth Engelbrecht Memorial Scholarship program is awarded by Onondaga Audubon to send local educators to National Audubon’s Hog Island Educators Week. This scholarship covers registration, housing, and food at the event as well as a small stipend to help cover travel to Maine. This years camp takes place July 17-22, 2022.

The Hog Island educator’s workshop is taught by environmental educators with over 20 years of experience and uses techniques in art, music, theater, journaling, and other disciplines to aid teachers in exploring citizen science, creating inquiry-based lessons on birds and other topics, and demonstrating both low and high-tech methods of teaching. The camp also includes a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock, intertidal explorations, and hikes through Hog Island’s forested areas.

How to apply

If you would like to apply for the 2022 scholarship please provide us with your responses to the Scholarship Application form HERE.

Note the deadline for the application is March 18, 2022 but early submissions are encouraged.


We do ask that all Scholarship winners provide us with:

  1. Photos of your experience at the Camp (hopefully with you in at least one photo)
  2. At least one outcome project related to your time at the camp. Some examples of projects that could come out of your experience include: starting an after-school bird or nature walk program, setting up a Classroom Feeder Watch, creating a bird-friendly garden at your school, crating a curriculum requirement that gets kids outside on a regular basis, crating a nature related festival that the students actively help set up, plus there are many more options we can discuss.
  3. A short report on how this camp impacted you and your work with children including details on your outcome project (photos are also encouraged).

Holly Stekl and Rich Garrett Awarded Scholarship for 2020 (but due to COVID, attended in 2021)

Lisa Lowenberg and Liz DelConte Awarded Scholarship in 2019

Christopher Paoili and Anton Ninno Awarded Scholarship in 2018

Margaret Foley & Katie Clift Awarded Scholarship in 2017

Jonathan Kresge Awarded Scholarship in 2016

Jonathan is a 7-12 grade Science Teacher at OCMHog Island Photo
BOCES Alternative to Homebound School
and also works as a contract naturalist at Baltimore Woods Nature Center where he has
been for the past 7 years. He has a passion for the wildlife, outdoors, and photography and is looking forward to his week at Hog Island to learn new ways of engaging students and providing them with more meaningful learning experiences.

Julia Yeatts Awarded Scholarship for 2015

Each year, Onondaga Audubon sponsors a teacher to attend the Educator’s Workshop on Hog Island, Maine. This past year’s recipient, Julia Yeatts, recently presented her experience to the board. Julia is a second grade teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary in the city of Syracuse.

Julia Yeatts on rock

Julia Yeatts

In her own words, Julia describes her experience. “First of all, I would like to thank the Onondaga Audubon Society for selecting me to represent them at Hog Island’s Educator Week. I found the experience rewarding and it gave me innovative methods to reach my students. I was able to participate in best practice science methodology that allowed me to deepen my understanding of the curriculum I deliver. My students love to go to Destiny Mall to watch the Bald Eagles hunting for fish in the warm waters by the metropolitan treatment plant on Onondaga Lake. We have studied birds in the local news. We discussed a Post-Standard article about a Red-tailed Hawk caught in a careless fisherman’s line. We learned how the crows were attacking it while its wings were tangled. We discussed the article’s points of whether nature should take its course or should someone intervene, since it was a man and his fishing line that caused the problem. We also like the Peregrine Falcons that live on the State Tower Building several blocks from our school. This fall we discussed the Flicker feathers found on the sidewalk up the street from our school. We took the newspaper reporting and discussed why that forest bird would be downtown. It led to great inferences. We agreed with the reporter that the Flicker was just migrating through Syracuse when he met the untimely end with the Peregrine Falcon. We also discuss the Crows who flock to our trees to roost at dusk. The Hog Island experience helped me reinforce conservation connections. I learned hands on approaches to nature education. These approaches help my students make connections to nature without traveling to Maine. As the naturalist Charles Jordon said, ‘What they do not know, they will not protect, and what they do not protect, they will lose.’”

Anna Leiss of Skaneateles is the 2014 recipient of Onondaga Audubon’s annual scholarship to the Educator’s Week on Hog Island, Maine. Anna is an environmental educator at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, where her primary involvement is with a program called Nature in the City.

Anna Leiss

Anna Leiss

Anna has been an environmental educator for six years. She is looking forward to the Educator’s Week at Hog Island providing her with new and fresh ways to engage her students.

The Hog Island educator’s workshop includes citizen science, creating some inquiry-based lessons on birds and other topics, and demonstrating both low and high-tech methods of teaching. There will also be a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock, intertidal explorations, and hiking through Hog Island’s forested areas.


Audubon in the Classroom

National Audubon Society has an excellent resource to help those of you teaching at the 3-5 grade level. Audubon Adventures Classroom Kits provide teachers a unique way to address core standards while connecting children with the outdoors. Kits provide four lessons on the environment and include a teacher guide, background facts on each topic, student handouts, hands-on activities for both the classroom and the outdoors, and student assessments. Audubon Adventures can be used as a source of non-fictional reading or as a full science lesson. Each lesson also defines the national language arts and science standards that will be met. New this year to Audubon Adventures is a digital classroom kit and topics about Birds, Bees as Pollinators and Neighborhood Biomes. In all, 38 topics are available to choose from. For more information on Audubon Adventures, visit

OAS is able to provide several schools Audubon Adventures for free. During the 2012/2013 school year, OAS distributed classroom kits to schools in Tully, Marcellus, Syracuse, Watertown, Alexandria Bay and Carthage. One educator reported, “The kids loved them and the information fit right into our lessons.” If you are interested in an Audubon Adventures Classroom Kit for the 2014/2015 school year, send an email to Include your name, school, and contact information.

One recipient of an Audubon Adventures Kit was the New School in Syracuse. Emmy Newman, a 7th grade student of the New School, had contacted OAS expressing an interest in birds. She was required, through both the New School and Hebrew School, to get involved with a passion of hers that would give back to the community and build confidence.

Emmy Newman

Emmy Newman

Emmy used the Audubon Adventures kit to teach her class about the environment. She also raised over $500 to support OAS, built a kestrel box for Green Lakes State Park, went on her first three birding trips and participated in the Christmas Bird Count. Emmy has started a passion that will last a lifetime and OAS was thrilled to be involved. OAS is grateful for the money raised, and will use the funds to continue helping others build a passion for birds.