New Year, New Staff

It’s time to introduce our new Field Instructor Fellows for the year! Our team members have come from all over the world to teach here at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Not only do we have 8 brand new staff members, but we have 5 returning staff as well! We hope you all get the chance to meet them as they teach here throughout the 2017-2018 school year!

New Staff

Ana Egea


  • Hometown: Rascafría, Spain
  • Focus of study: Education
  • Interesting fact: “I always talk with my hands.”

Andrew Sipple


  • Hometown: Saegertown, Pennsylvania
  • Focus of Study: Music and Environmental Education
  • Interesting fact: “I like to search for and photograph wildflowers.”

Greyson Rusher


  • Hometown: Avon Lake, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Environmental Economics and Sustainable Community Development
  • Interesting fact: “My favorite dog is a golden doodle.”

Jonathan Parker


  • Hometown: Lebanon, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Business Administration
  • Interesting fact: “I can eat a large carton of flavor blasted goldfish in a day.”

Kate Albing


  • Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Communication and Media Studies
  • Interesting Fact: “My spirit animal is a coyote.”

Linnea Johnson


  • Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Biology and English
  • Interesting Fact: “I’ve seen a platypus in the wild.”

Naomi Morgan


  • Hometown: Rootstown
  • Focus of Study: Geoscience and History
  • Interesting Fact: “I am one of 11 children.”

Romana Morávková


  • Hometown: Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Focus of Study: Pedology and Protection of Natural Landscapes
  • Interesting Fact: “I love wearing woolly socks and buying them for all my friends.”

Returning Staff

Dan Pinto

  • Hometown: Brecksville, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology
  • Job Focus: Marketing Educational Fellow
  • Fun Fact: “I learned how to water ski when I was 5 years old.”

Lili Fikter

  • Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Zoology, Geology and Environmental Studies
  • Job Focus: Curriculum Educational Fellow
  • Fun Fact: “I am actually slightly afraid of stairs.”

Tara Orzechowski

  • Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Environmental and Political Science
  • Job Focus: Special Programming Educational Fellow
  • Fun Fact: “Visiting all 59 National Parks is on my bucket list.”

Roman Waked

  • Hometown: Columbia Station, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Geology
  • Job Focus: Administrative Educational Fellow
  • Fun Fact: “Fall is my favorite season.”

Sami Crane


  • Hometown: Copley, Ohio
  • Focus of Study: Environmental Studies
  • Job Focus: Administrative Educational Fellow
  • Fun Fact: “I hate cartoons.”




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Spring at CVNP

As Spring blooms, CVNP is alive with more visitors, animals, and plants reemerging. Here are some highlights of what’s been happening!


The final two Girl Scouts weekends of the school year culminated with junior scouts focusing their learning on the beautiful spring flowers here in CVNP. All of the girls worked toward badges in Drawing, Writing, and Flowers. Different activities included scouts creating their own paper flowers, going on a flower hunt throughout the park, and inventing their own super-powered flowers. They even got to plant their very own flower to take home after the weekend! In classic EEC camp fashion, the girls also played games, sang songs, and made many new friends–a perfect end to a great season of Girl Scout adventures.

We had a blast hosting all of the Girl Scout troops this season, and we can’t wait to see more groups this fall! We will be rotating the badges that we offer for next year’s season so be sure to check back to see what is in store!


Day programs at the EEC and throughout the park are a fantastic way to engage in a positive environmental experience and support the curriculum for a specific subject or lesson. While not all schools can opt into our residential programs due to time constraints, day programs are flexible with time frames and locations, making them a wonderful resource for teachers.

Some of our popular programs include Rockin’ at the Run, a geology-based program at Virginia-Kendall Ledges, Ways of the Whittlesey, which explores local American Indian culture, and our newest program, Changing Lands and Human Hands, a program that shows how the area has changed naturally over time–and artificially through human interaction.


Students exploring life below the surface of the pond during a day program.


At the Ledges with students, exploring the geologic history of NE Ohio.

Not only are these lessons relevant and engaging to all students, but fourth graders are eligible to receive Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes that allow free entry into any national park until the beginning of their 5th grade year!

To read more about our extensive programming or schedule a date, please visit our day program page or call our main office at 330.657.2796


Akron Public Schools (APS) came out for their final excursion of the year. Previously, students from Kenmore CLC, East CLC, North High, and Buchtel High participated in a photo scavenger hunt at the Ledges in the fall, as well as a treasure hunt at Brandywine Falls in the winter. This spring, the students came out to the EEC and competed in an “Amazing Race,” playing games, completing obstacle courses, and hiking around CVNP. They definitely worked up an appetite before enjoying another fantastic meal with their CTAG specialists and the Field Instructors. Finally, the students were presented with the opportunity to come back for Level 2 of  APS Summer Academy, a two-week day program to earn school credit, or to become Program Aides, getting paid to help work with the new students starting the program this summer.


Ranger Kelsey teaching students about sustainability and re-purposing products at Nature Realm.

We are very excited to host another summer of APS students and continue more exciting excursions in the Fall. For more information on APS Summer Academy or Program Aides, please call 330.657.2796


The Conservancy was happy to host OCVN’s first weekend of training at the Education Center! Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists receive 40 hours of combined classroom and field instruction, allowing them to provide excellent volunteer services to organizations across Ohio! If you are interested in finding out more information, check out the OCVN webpage!

Remember, April is #HappyToHelp month, so feel free to tag us in all of your volunteering adventures and share your story.  Watch this video to see why local college students are Happy to Help! You can see more testimonies from our volunteers and get more information about upcoming opportunities on our Facebook page  or on our website!

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Staff Spotlight: Michelle Holderbaum

We are excited to introduce a new initiative to the EEC: Staff Spotlights.

Every other week we will have  a mini-blog post featuring our staff spotlight-someone that has been nominated by their coworkers for their exceptional work and dedication!

To kick us off, the EEC staff has nominated Michelle Holderbaum, our Head Custodian!


Michelle (middle) with two of her friends at the Conservancy staff party.

  • Michelle has been working at the CVEEC for almost 15 years!
  • She is from Akron, Ohio and has a son, Adam,  and a daughter, Tara.
  • Michelle’s favorite part about her job is the walks between buildings and across campus in such a beautiful area.
  • The funniest thing that has happened to her at work was when a students asked her if she had ever been in the back of a police cruiser.
  • Above all, Michelle likes her  job so much thanks to her coworkers that make her laugh (Mike, Rob, and Ranger Dan) and smile. 🙂

We love having you on our staff, Michelle!

Thank you for all you do!

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The theme for March has been CVNP Fun and we have had a ton of it! We’ve been out and about through rain, shine, snow, wind, and everything in between. Highlights are below and we have much more fun on the way!


Fourth graders have an exciting opportunity to experience not just one, but all of America’s National Parks for FREE! We are inviting all current fourth graders to participate in a program at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and earn the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) pass. This White House sponsored initiative seeks to educate, engage and inspire students within their national park. As citizens of the United States, fourth graders share in the ownership and responsibility to protect these special, safe, and shared spaces.

This pass provides free access to exciting, protected outdoor lands, including all national parks. EKIP Passes are valid for the duration of the time the student is in the fourth grade until he or she starts fifth grade in the fall. Since CVNP is free to the public, the EKIP pass will grant free access for the child that holds it to train rides on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

BTFP July 2015 JRF credit DJR (2)

Photo credit: DJR

Understanding that many students do not have access to the outdoors and our national treasures, we have secured grant funding available for programming that will lead to this pass as well as transportation needs to and from the park locations. Having a national park this close to your school provides an incredible opportunity for a hands-on learning experience.  Our programs follow state curriculum standards and provide learning opportunities that supplement traditional classroom lessons. The funding has been approved for multiple years so schools can schedule for the current school year or upcoming years!

We are also in the process of creating new day programs. We would like to give a shout out to our field instructors and administrative staff for putting in extra effort to create programs that meet the needs of our teachers and will help us reach as many students as possible! One new program is called Changing Lands and Human Hands, a program about how humans have impacted and changed the land and what natural processes occur throughout time. To see our new programming or schedule a date, please visit our website or call us.


We hosted our first open house of the season on March 19th. Potential campers learned about this year’s camp options, toured our beautiful facilities, and met our friendly camp staff! Summer camp in CVNP offers excellent opportunities for rising 4th -10th graders to explore, learn new skills, and make memories in nature.  To learn more, join us at CVEEC on April 30th, 11-1 pm or May 13th, 10-1 pm. No pre-registration for open houses needed.


To register for our camps please visit or call us at 330.657.2796


March 22nd was World Water Day. In celebration, we have teamed up with EarthEcho to bring citizen science to our programs! EarthEcho was founded by Jacques Yves Cousteau’s grandchildren, Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr. Students use special equipment to test the pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen levels, and overall health of the Cuyahoga River in CVNP. The results are recorded on so that the data can be used back in the classroom or around the world.


Students testing the Cuyahoga River: Photo credit Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal

Read a great article from the Beacon Journal about the experience of Coventry students:

Learn more about EarthEcho International here:


Our upcoming April theme is Happy To Help and the students that came to our Alternative Spring Break proved that our volunteers are just that!  The Volunteer Management Office team and many of our rangers spent their weekend hosting and giving back with 33 college students from around the region.

Many students spent Saturday morning fixing a braided trail where hikers would walk to the sides to avoid a particularly muddy patch, resulting in trampled native vegetation and widening the trail significantly without resolving the issue of high mud areas.


Stages of narrowing and fixing a trail at the EEC. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Bargdill)

One crew worked on building new compost bins for the Environmental Education Center. This will be used as an educational tool when students come to camp in order to show sustainable practices and the decomposition processes.

Another group helped to build a raspberry enclosure and make our garden a more successful growing area so we can use fresh food in our meal plans and teach the public about local food sources. One of the projects was to relocate and stack wood throughout the park to be used for maintenance and programming.


Work and Play at ASB! (Photo Credit: Elizabeth Bargdill)

Above: CVNP’s Volunteer Management Office’s Liz is a previous ASB volunteer and helped to run the weekend this year. With her is Kelli, a SCA member that came to Ohio just to help for the weekend and Kevin, a Kent State student volunteer that attended his fourth year of ASB activities this year!

All of these projects will help to protect the environment, foster learning, and make a lasting positive impact on Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The EEC would like to give a big thank you to all of the staff and volunteers that worked so hard and made the weekend a huge success! Their projects will be utilized for classes with students at the center for years to come.

Keep an eye on our social media in April to see testimonies for why our volunteers love the park, videos of park projects, and insights to our volunteer activities!



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We Love our Park!

February just ended and we LOVE our park! A strange winter has made for very fun and exciting days at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. We have been welcoming many schools and weekend groups to our campus.


Akron Public Schools came out for their second excursion of the year. In January, students from Kenmore, East, North, and Buchtel High Schools came to Brandywine Falls to hike, complete a scavenger hunt, and enjoy the view. After a delicious meal, the students spent time with their CTAG specialists, played some games, and participated in a NPS focus group helping to gear up for the 2019 River Celebration.


Fun in the rain!


Found a clue for the scavenger hunt!

Our Spring Excursion will be coming up in April for another day of fun in the park with an Amazing Race!


Women in the Wild was a wonderful weekend retreat hosted at the CVEEC. Women came to relax, unwind, bond, and explore creativity in beautiful CNVP. The group enjoyed hikes, bird watching,  meditation, creative exploration, yoga, journaling, and even a drum circle. It was wonderful to see such inspiration flowing through our visitors to the park.

Women in the Wild - Group Photo 2017.jpg

A beautiful group of inspired women!

Keep an eye on our Schedule of Events for more upcoming weekend programming for all ages!


We held our senior girl scout weekend in February, embracing the Ohio weather and exploring the park in the warmth and the cold! We welcomed scouts from high schools and troops all around Ohio! The scouts crafted, played, planned a trip, and hiked the very muddy Buckeye Trail to Blue Hen Falls. Throughout the weekend activities, the scouts worked toward their badges in Collage Artist, Adventurer, and Traveler. They met new people, pushed themselves, and got to see many parts of their local National Park.


The beautiful view of Blue Hen Falls


Our group of Senior Scouts after completing a long hike on the Buckeye Trail to Blue Hen Falls!

We are very excited for our two weekends for Junior Scouts coming up in March!


As we gear up for a busy and exciting spring, we’ve been adding to our list of programs! Many of the newest additions will be geared toward issuing Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes, giving 4th grade students visiting with their schools passes to get into all National Parks for FREE!

Changing Lands and Human Hands is one of our new programs focusing on Ohio history, the changing shape of our land, and how humans have made an impact. The students loved using a stream table, reading stories, playing games, and learning a lot.  We want to thank our staff for dedicating their time and effort to continue expanding our exceptional programming offered. Contact our office at 330.657.2796 for further information and to schedule an educational trip to CVNP. We look forward to seeing you in the park!

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New Year, Same Mission


The holiday season and new year has brought great fun and fresh ideas to Cuyahoga Valley National Park! We have hosted events, added to our upcoming calendar, and welcomed new Field Instructors.


Each December, the Conservancy for CVNP hosts a Festival of Lights at the Environmental Education Center. We invited our guests to share a meal, make crafts, and “travel” around the world as they visited stations celebrating eights different winter holidays and occasions. This year, we celebrated Loi Krathong, Kwanzaa, Dongzhi, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Christmas, Science of the Solstice, and Holidays in Pop Culture.


Although Loi Krathong is traditionally celebrated in a warmer climate, we got creative and “floated” our lights out onto a frozen Cattail Pond.

Please join us for our next Festival of Lights and keep an eye out for other fun activities we host throughout the year!


We want to give a shout out to all of the generous donors from 2016! We had over 50 pairs of coats, gloves, hats and scarves for each of our two campuses at the EEC. Our goal is to ensure that all people have safe and enjoyable access to our national park. These donations will guarantee that every student can be safe and warm in the unpredictable weather of Ohio and still get to experience the outdoors first hand. THANK YOU!


Just a portion of the clothing generously donated to us to make sure we can keep students safe and warm on the trails!


Students stay warm and have a blast while learning outside!


As we enter the new year and our calendar fills up, we welcome three new field instructors to our EEC team. They are excited to help fulfill the goal of educating and engaging students from all across the region in beautiful CVNP!

Lauren Herr


  • Hometown: Akron, Ohio
  • Focus of study: Nursing
  • Interesting fact: “I ♥ rock climbing and Beyoncé.”

Kelli Kinzig


  • Hometown: Centerville, OH
  • Focus of study: Early Childhood Education
  • Interesting fact: “When I was little I used to be mistaken for MaryKate and Ashley Olsen.”

Megan Lemmo


  • Hometown: Brimfield, OH
  • Focus of study: Wildlife Conservation
  • Interesting fact: “I lived in Australia for about 6 months.”

Spring is going to be an exciting time with lots of new developments happening, so be sure to check in to stay up to date!

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FALL-ing for CVNP

Fall has been a busy season here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Many awesome groups have come out to celebrate NPS’s Centennial year. Here are just a few to showcase our Autumn!


This November, our Akron Public Schools partners came out for their first excursion. Students from Kenmore, East, North, and Buchtel High Schools spent their day exploring the ledges, playing games, and team-building in CVNP.


Our scavenger hunt had the 9th graders trek The Ledges Trail in CVNP; what an adventure!

We are excited to host them back again in January for a fun filled day of sledding and games.


One of our veteran residential schools, Coventry Middle School, came back to the CVEEC for another week of discovery and learning. In order to help celebrate the 100th birthday of  the National Park Service, the 6th grade students planted over 100 trees down near the Everett Covered Bridge! They made a lasting impact on the park for us to enjoy another 100 years!


6th graders are listening to Ranger Josh explain how to plant new trees.


After their hard work, Coventry students are thanked and sworn in as official Junior Rangers of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


We also hosted our first girl scout weekend of the year! We welcomed over 90 Cadette Scouts from all over Ohio attended; we even had one from Kentucky! We shared a wonderful weekend as they worked on badges for Animal Helpers, Field Day, and Woodworking. The girls made friends, learned new skills, and got to explore their local National Park on a personal level.


Ranger Margaret congratulating the scouts on becoming official Junior Rangers of CVNP and earning a very special NPS patch.


The scouts loved speaking to Paw Patrol participants at CVNP and getting to play with some friendly pups like Penny!

We’ve had a lot of visitors and adventures this year, but there is still time for YOU to come out and help us celebrate our 100 years!


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Meet the 2016 – 2017 Instructors!

It’s time to meet our new group of Field Instructors! This wonderful crew will be with us through the 2016-2017 school year, engaging students from all over Ohio in the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without further ado, here they are!

Sami Craneinterns-2016-17-167

  • Hometown: Copley, OH
  • Focus of study: Environmental Studies
  • Interesting fact: “My spirit animal is a bulldog”

Lili Fikterinterns-2016-17-171

  • Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
  • Focus of Study: Zoology, Geology and Environmental Studies
  • Interesting fact: “I have a twin brother”


Kate Frenzinterns-2016-17-178

  • Hometown: Rockville, MD
  • Focus of Study: History
  • Interesting fact: “I speak French and Arabic”


Tom Lacerdainterns-2016-17-161

  • Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
  • Focus of Study: Biology
  • Interesting fact: “I have worked in the Dominican Republic, the Great Basin, the Upper Peninsula and Southeast Alaska.”


Tara Orzechowskiinterns-2016-17-163

  • Hometown: Toledo, OH
  • Focus of Study: Environmental Science
  • Interesting Fact: “I am left handed”


Rob Phillipsinterns-2016-17-176

  • Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  • Focus of Study: Zoology
  • Interesting Fact: “I have been to South Africa to take care of cheetahs.”


Daniel Pinto032

  • Hometown: Brecksville, OH
  • Focus of Study: Ecology and Evolution
  • Interesting Fact: “I’m adopted from Columbia”


Margo Roseumimg_3814

  • Hometown: Willoughby Hills, OH
  • Focus of Study: Communications, Marketing and Environmental Studies
  • Interesting Fact: “I’ve been a vegetarian for almost half my life.”


Mirka Šárovámirka

  • Hometown: Kosice, Slovakia
  • Focus of Study: Physical Geography
  •  Interesting Fact: “I biked 110 miles in one day from Bratislava to Vienna and back.”


Roman Wakedinterns-2016-17-170

  • Hometown: Columbia Station, OH
  • Focus of Study: Geology
  • Interesting Fact: “Hamsters are my favorite animal.”
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Attention All Schools!


If you attend our residential program, you could save money on your bills. (This is not a car insurance joke!)

The Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) has received certification for All the Rivers Run: Level 1: and All the Rivers Run: Level 2 for four contact hours each by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).

Wait, what?

That means the CVEEC is listed on the District’s website as an approved provider for schools wishing to apply for the Stormwater Fee Education Credit. Any schools attending Level 1 or 2 All the Rivers Run residential programs are eligible to apply for the NEORSD Stormwater Fee Education Credit. It is up to you–the school–to ensure you meet the full requirements of the credit and apply directly with NEORSD.

CONGRATULATIONS—4 contact hours could save you 25% on your sewage bill!


What you get:

The Stormwater Fee Education Credit is 25% off your monthly bill.
What you need to do:

  • Complete four contact hours of education concentrating on stewardship of our water and natural resources.
  • A quarter of your building’s grade level must complete the contact hours.
  • For example, if a school has 5-8 grades in a building, one entire grade level must complete the four contact hours.
  • Remember, after completion, you need to apply for the education credit directly with NEORSD.

How to earn your contact hours: (Pick one)

1) NEORSD’s Watershed Education Curriculum;

2) the school’s designed and district-approved curriculum; or

3) an informal science institution that has been certified by NEORSD….Like your friendly neighborhood CVEEC : )


Hope to see you soon!


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Winter Weather Brings Creative Days

During the winter weather we get creative with our lessons–sometimes even bringing the program to school classrooms instead of our usual week of residential programming on our CVNP trails.

This month we’ve done several puppet shows in preschools and kindergartens. As you can see, our puppets are quite amazing to meet. They give us a chance to soften animals that are usually feared. In fact, that’s the name of the program: “Nobody Likes Me.”


NLM SadSpider

Our friend the spider is misunderstood! Our instructors help children appreciate the important role that every animal plays in our ecosystems–even the unpopular ones!

Instructors from the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center start in a quiet circle in a corner of a classroom or cafeteria, and transform that space into a conversation about what makes animals valuable. Is it their beauty? Their cuddliness? Puppet friends interrupt constantly to ask why they weren’t included on this list. By the end of the show, we’ve learned that

-bees are too busy to be bothered, that’s why they sting. If you don’t bother them, then there’s no problem!

-worms are super useful for making soil out of nasty, rotten food

-bats are aiming for the bugs bugging you, not your hair!

-spiders have oodles of legs and eyeballs because they need to hunt fast, and they think humans have too few legs.

After all these animals have gone back to their business, we separate into stations where students comb their fingers through a worm bin, build their own spiders to take home and make crayon rubbings of bats in their caves.

It’s a really fun field trip for the instructors, so call us if you’d like to schedule a “Nobody Likes Me” program for your little learners!

NLM Josh as bat 2

Having our animal guests in your classroom is great fun for young students!

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