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. The 2023 camp takes place July 16-21.

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 2023 scholarship please provide us with your responses to the Scholarship Application form HERE.

The application deadline is Wednesday, March 08, 2023 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 (but are certainly not limited to): starting an after-school bird, nature walk program, or bioblitz; setting up a Classroom Feeder Watch; creating a bird-friendly garden at your school; creating a curriculum requirement that gets kids outside on a regular basis; crating a nature related festival that the students actively help set up.
  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 if possible).

Previous Scholarship Winners


Alex Becerra, Liverpool Central School District

Kevin Goggins, Oneida High School

Julia Sparks, Spring Farm CARES Nature Sanctuary


(Awarded Scholarship for 2020 but, due to COVID, attended in 2021)

Rich Garrett, Skaneateles High School

Holly Stekl, Romulus Central School


Liz DelConte, English and Creative Writing Teacher, Fayetteville-Manlius High School

Liz says decided to apply for this scholarship because, “My ultimate goal is to engage students. To get them excited about the world they live in. To get them off of their phones and reacquainted with the outdoors, the same outdoors that probably inspired them when they were younger. Not only do I believe that attending the Hog Island Educator’s Week would help me engage students with reading and writing, but I feel certain that it would give me tools to make my teaching and my students more well-rounded. I hope that my students leave high school as self-aware citizens of the natural world, and I want to do everything in my power to help them become stewards of their environment.”

Lisa Lowenberg, AP Biology, Living Environment, and Environmental Science Teacher, Chittenango High School

Lisa says she applied for this scholarship because, “Whenever I attend professional development workshops/retreats I bring back to the classroom new and exciting curriculum and instructional activities that my students benefit from. Even though I have been teaching for 19 years there is still so much to learn and share with other teachers in the field.”


Anton Ninno

Christopher Paoili


Katie Clift

Margaret Foley


Jonathan Kresge, OCM BOCES Alternative to Homebound School

Jonathan 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, 2nd Grade Teacher, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary (City of Syracuse)

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, Environmental Educator, Baltimore Woods Nature Center

Anna is an environmental educator at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, where her primary involvement is with a program called Nature in the City. She has been an environmental educator for six years and felt Educator’s Week at Hog Island provided her with new and fresh ways to engage her students.

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 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.

Emmy Newman