K-5 Citizen Science Retreat – Ithaca, NY

Join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology K-12 Education team August 8-10, 2022, for an Educator Retreat at Sapsucker Woods in beautiful Ithaca, New York.

We are excited to invite K-5 educators back to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for an in-person professional development experience. The format of our retreat will be guided by Cornell University’s science-based COVID policy, with the health and safety of our community and participants at the forefront of our minds. With group size in mind, we have designed this year’s retreat to create an intimate experience especially for K-5 classroom educators. Informal science educators who are interested in these themes, are also welcomed to attend.

This one-of-a-kind program includes hands-on activities, guest speakers, and outdoor exploration, and will be a time for rejuvenation and re-connection for educators. We will highlight best practices in citizen science, nature-based education, and social-emotional learning (SEL).

To make the most of our time together, participants will be asked to complete the free eBird Essentials course before the retreat. The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and will give participants the fundamentals of eBird participation. We will expand on how to use eBird with kids during the retreat.

During this transformative experience, you will:

  • Receive hands-on training in using citizen science and eBird in your program.
  • Learn eBird protocols and practice participating in citizen-science along the Sapsucker Woods’ beautiful trails.
  • Discover the Cornell Lab’s online field guide, digital library, and citizen-science programs as educational resources for K-5 learning.
  • Explore the connections between outdoor learning, citizen science, and social-emotional learning.
  • Enjoy bird walks led by local experts to help you practice bird identification and learn about bird ecology.
  • Interact with the experienced and enthusiastic scientists and staff who make the Cornell Lab of Ornithology a world-renowned institution, including behind-the-scenes tours.
  • Receive your choice of either the K-2 or 3-5 K-12 Education’s latest eBird Explorer curricula. Additional kits will be available for pre-order.
  • Earn 2 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) from Cornell University.
  • Enjoy the natural beauty of Sapsucker Woods and the Finger Lakes with like-minded educators.
  • Practice methods that can be immediately implemented with your students.

Who should attend?

This experience is especially designed for K-5 classroom educators, STEM coordinators, and school librarians looking for innovative ways to teach STEM content and develop science literacy. This retreat will help you incorporate citizen science and nature exploration into elementary classrooms.

Participants in past retreats have raved about their retreat experience:

“Outstanding experience overall!”

“It was amazing. I especially loved the bird watching field trips.”

“I can’t think of a way to make it better, honestly. It was great.”

COVID-19 Policies

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology follows Cornell University COVID-19 policies. This may include masking with approved masks when in university buildings, social-distancing when possible, and proof of vaccination or negative test within 72 hours of the event. These policies are subject to change as University policies continue to evolve. We will keep a close eye on the local situation and notify participants of any changes.

Logistics, Travel, and Lodging

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is located at 159 Sapsucker Woods Road in Ithaca, NY. Free parking is available on site. Our local airport is Ithaca Tompkins County. Syracuse, Elmira, and Binghamton airports are each about an hour away.

Arrival, check-in, and snacks are from 12:00-1:00 pm on Monday, August 8. The Retreat begins promptly at 1:00 pm and concludes Wednesday, August 10 at 12:00 pm.


Participants will be responsible for their own lodging reservations and cost. We will be reserving block of rooms at Courtyard Ithaca hotel. Space is limited. The hotel is located a short drive or walk away from the Lab. Hotel block information coming soon.

Cost and Registration

Due to the current global situation, full refunds will be granted up to two weeks prior to the conference if you choose to cancel. Partial refunds will be available until the retreat start date.  

Workshop costs are being supplemented by grant and sponsor funds. The registration fee is $300, which includes:

  • Your choice of either the K-2 or 3-5 eBird Explorer kits. Additional kits available for pre-order
  • Delicious meals and plenty of snacks during workshop hours. Meals include Monday dinner; Tuesday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and Wednesday breakfast. Covid restrictions allowing, dinner on Tuesday will be a picnic in a gorgeous local state park.
  • Hands-on training, tours, and bird walks (most led by Cornell Lab experts!)
  • 2 CEUs from Cornell University