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

Nancy Trautmann
Center Engagement in Science and Nature
Projects K–12 Education

Don't miss a thing! Join our email list