Nancy Trautmann

Senior Extension Associate Emeritus


Curriculum Development • Professional Development for K-12 Educators • Student Investigations • Citizen Science

As the Lab’s Director of Education 2008-2019, I led a team devoted to connecting students and the public with citizen science, conservation, and research related to birds and biodiversity. Aiming to spark curiosity, build scientific skills, and inspire conservation action, we created resources and opportunities for people of all ages, in school and out, in person and online, in Ithaca and throughout the world.

Throughout my career I have focused on empowering educators to go beyond lectures and involve their students in conservation-related investigations and projects. This resulted in publication of 10 books in collaboration with high school science teachers on topics ranging from biodiversity to toxicology. Birds Without Borders: Investigating Populations, Habitats, and Conservation of Birds in the U.S. and Abroad won the Association of American Publishers’ award for supplemental science curricula.

In 2017 I was awarded a Senior Fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. My work there focused on producing curriculum in support of a marginalized group of indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, with the aim of helping them protect their ancestral homeland and way of life through ecologically and culturally responsible ecotourism and education.

I serve on the Board for Ithaca’s Discovery Trail, a partnership including the Lab of Ornithology along with seven other educational organizations serving Tompkins County, NY. The Discovery Trail facilitates annual field trips for most of Tompkins County’s 5,600 elementary students through the Kids Discover the Trail! program, and I volunteer as a trip leader for fifth graders who participate in these half-day experiences at the Lab of Ornithology.

In my post-retirement role as visiting scholar, I am continuing to connect educators and students with the Lab’s remarkable array of initiatives that inspire people to care about the natural world and act on critical issues facing our environment today.

Each summer it is my joy to serve on the faculty for the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest, a 10-day professional development experience for teachers who travel to the Peru and incorporate these experiences into their teaching back home in the U.S. As an extension of this work, I became a founding board member of the Morpho Institute. This nonprofit partners with an indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon to host conservation-oriented workshops for U.S. educators interested in ensuring that the forests, rivers, biodiversity, and people of the Amazon are treasured and protected for generations to come.


Ph.D., Communication, Cornell University
M.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University


“The world is moving at a tremendous rate, no one knows where. We must prepare our children not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world… the world of the future.”—John Dewey in the 1940s

Recent Publications

Trautmann, N. M., L. Branch, R. R. Wingerden, M. Watkins, J. Ort, and K. Deal (2021). From local to global: Calculating and appreciating the value of trees and forests. The Science Teacher; Washington 88:54–61.
Trautmann, N., and M. Gilmore (2020). The Maijuna: Fighting for survival in the Peruvian Amazon. 7.
Briggs, L., N. Trautmann, and T. Phillips (2019). Exploring challenges and lessons learned in cross-cultural environmental education research. Evaluation and Program Planning 73:156–162.
Briggs, L., N. M. Trautmann, and C. Fournier (2018). Environmental education in Latin America and the Caribbean: the challenges and limitations of conducting a systematic review of evaluation and research. Environmental Education Research 24:1631–1654.
Trautmann, N. M., and M. P. Gilmore (2018). Educating as if Survival Matters. BioScience 68:324–326.
MaKinster, J., N. Trautmann, C. Burch, and M. Watkins (2015). Where the birds live: Using web-based maps for scientific inquiry into bird habitats and migration patterns. The Science Teacher 82:42–49.
Trautmann, N. M., and J. MaKinster (2015). Birds Without Borders. Investigating Populations, Habitats and Conservation of Birds in the U.S. and Abroad. Carte Diem Press, Dallas, Texas.
Nancy Trautmann
Center Engagement in Science and Nature
Projects K–12 Education

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library