Education and Outreach

Educating today’s youth is paramount to building an informed citizenry.  At OCCA we believe that through our environmental education classroom programs, outdoor education experiences, and lecture series we can help Otsego County residents be well-versed in the preservation of our natural resources.  Our outreach efforts on issues such as clean energy, recycling, and land management also give our residents information and activities on important programs around the county.

Collaborations & Partnership Programs

Collaborations and Partnerships are an integral part of the work of any non-profit organization.  They strengthen the efforts of all involved, coordinate resources, and enhance the success of any project.  OCCA has a strong history of working collaboratively with organizations, locally, regionally, statewide and nationally.  We are proud to be involved with others to expand our community as well as our impacts.  

The Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem is a statewide, k-12 Environmental Literacy Initiative. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, CBHEE is designed to engage and educate teachers on how to develop, integrate and lead Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) in their classrooms. The program involves a multi-day professional development institute for classroom teachers in summer along with follow-up check in and professional development meetings throughout the year.

2023 Teacher Training
More information, including an application for our summer institute, can be found hereThis includes a short video from NOAA and a link to a previously recorded webinar on CBHEE given by OCCA. To get on our CBHEE mailing list, please fill out this form (takes you to a new page). We’re excited about launching this project and hope you will join us!

OCCA is a NY State Partner and Member of the Choose Clean Water Coalition.  In collaboration with a number of local and regional agencies and organizations, the Annual Watershed Forum alternates to either a northern or southern location every year.  OCCA has taken on coordination responsibilities for the northern sessions in past years and expects to continue this in the future.

OCCA works with the Choose Clean Water Coalition to help as the Outreach Lead to coordinate on the ground work, build membership, and implement  grassroots campaigns focused on state and federal threats to our local rivers and streams. Participation as a partner with the Coalition advances Coalition priorities and enhances effectiveness across the states that make up the Bay watershed.


Energy is an important topic for our region, our state and our country.  The decisions we make today about our energy infrastructure will have repercussions for many years to come.  OCCA is actively working to promote local renewable energy projects and is involved to help guide our communities towards a sustainable and low-impact future.

A collaborative project between the Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA) and the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD), Heat Smart Mohawk Valley is a community-based clean heating and cooling campaign focused on helping residents and business owners in the Mohawk Valley lower their energy bills, improve occupant comfort and safety, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This grassroots program is designed to walk building owners through the process of a free energy audit, explain the value of efficiency upgrades including heat pumps, identify qualified contractors, and explore incentives and financing available for improvements.   

Visit the Heat Smart Mohawk Valley Website

OCCA has been involved with work with the Otsego County Energy Taskforce to represent a voice for our environment as plans take shape in regards to energy priorities at the local level.

Public Programming

Each year, OCCA offers programs that are open to the public, usually free of charge, as opportunities to engage area residents of all ages in topics and activities that are pertinent to a better understanding of our local natural areas, its resources and benefits as well as the environmental challenges that we face.

Detailed information about our programs can be found at our calendar.

OCCA regularly organizes nature walks on local trails. We believe that getting out and enjoying Otsego County’s open spaces is important to understanding and appreciating the bountiful natural resources of our area.  Our nature hikes include both leisure and educational walks for all audiences. Our schedule includes public and private trails around the county with varying levels of difficulty to accommodate all types of nature enthusiasts.  Many of our hikes are included in the OCCA publication “Otsego Walks & Paddles” and on the Otsego Outdoors website.

In 2017, OCCA launched “Get the Kids Out” – a special program for families during school breaks, weekends, and vacations.  These programs are for families looking for something fun and educational to do in the outdoors, while getting some good exercise at the same time!

Celebrate and learn about many topics in ecology, natural resources, land management and much, much more.  The Be Informed! lecture series has a topic for everyone.  Planned in conjunction with Mohican Farm, this series is intended for older students and adults as a way to stay current on a variety of issues and learn in the process.  Join us quarterly at Mohican Farm for your favorite local speakers.

OCCA hosts and participates in regional environmental events each year to educate the public about important environmental issues within Otsego County. We take advantage of these opportunities to inform the public about its role in the environmental protection and betterment of the county.  Events include Earth Festival, Otsego Lakes Festival and more.


The following OCCA Publications are available for download in the sections below.  These select publications are produced to bring attention to specific places, or issues, or things that we can do to reduce our impact.  

Some of our primary publications are listed below along with links to view and/or download.  Hard copy prints may be available.  Please contact Program Director, Jeff O’Handley for information at

Basswood Pond State Forest encompasses a total of 711 acres with five miles of hiking trails that form a rough figure eight. Basswood Pond covers 16 acres.  Click here to view the Printable PDF Copy. 

Quick energy tips that will help you save money and natural resources, and reduce heating bills. Energy Saving Tips

Nationwide, abundant natural beauty and open spaces are rapidly disappearing as development expands. In Otsego County, however, both residents and visitors still find peace and joy in the varied landscapes, green hills, streams, and lakes of our surroundings. To foster an appreciation of the many natural, scenic areas in and near Otsego County, OCCA has published Otsego Walks and Paddles.

Click this link to view the pdf – available for download at Otsego Walks & Paddles

Details regarding light pollution, with examples of lighting fixtures designed to reduce sky glow, light trespass and glare.

Starry Nights in Otsego County

Recycling, Composting & Solid Waste Education

OCCA has been involved with recycling, composting and solid waste education efforts from the very beginning. We work closely with the Otsego County Solid Waste and Planning Department in order to complement their efforts and amplify the information about proper waste disposal in Otsego County.

Our Recycling Information Page contains pertinent links and resource materials that are available for residents, municipalities, business and farm owners and more.  

Composting is a great way to reduce household trash while producing useful materials for your garden.  It has the added benefit of being low-cost and easy to implement.   Learn More about Composting and What You Need to Get Started Here!

The information at this page is compiled and updated regularly in partnership with the Otsego County Solid Waste Publication “How Do I Get Rid Of…” and the older OCCA Publication Above and Beyond Recycling. If you are looking for an item not listed here, or if you have a suggestion on something we can add, please let us know! Contact Jeff O’Handley, Program Director at

Click Here for our Mobile-Friendly alphabetical list of items and how to properly dispose of them.

As part of OCCA’s mission to reduce our carbon footprint we will be holding our traditional “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Garage Sale” digitally.  You will still have the benefit of donating items to OCCA, getting some GREAT deals, and knowing that you are keeping things out of the landfill.


If you are interested in any of the items  OR if you have items to donate, please email us at

Student Programming

Although OCCA does not currently offer classroom style program opportunities, we do offer avenues for students to be involved with participating with us in various ways including in contests, citizen science conservation projects, public programming and volunteer opportunities.

Each year, with the support of the Tianaderrah Foundation, OCCA offers Otsego County students the opportunity to win a free week at a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation summer camp through participation in an essay contest. Watch this space for information about 2024!

Otsego County Conservation Association, in conjunction with the Otsego County Department of Solid Waste and Planning and Casella Resource Solutions holds a film plastic recycling challenge for schools each year. The program promotes proper recycling of grocery bags and other film plastics, which cannot be recycled through traditional recycling programs. The challenge is open to all public and private K-12 school buildings located in Otsego County. 

To sign up for the 2022 Challenge, fill out this form at the Otsego County Solid Waste Department. Schools may also enroll in the Trex School Film Plastic Recycling Challenge, which runs concurrently.  

Acceptable material includes single-use plastic grocery bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, bubble wrap (no paper or foil backing), bread bags, Ziploc and other reclosable food storage bags, salt and wood pellet bags, pallet wrap and stretch film, plastic shipping envelopes, ice bags, produce bags and case overwrap. All items must be clean, dry and free of food residue and dust.

How You Can Help Protect Our Local Environment

Donations provide the foundation for our work throughout Otsego County. By becoming a supporter of OCCA, you become a part of a unique countywide environmental organization whose mission is to protect local natural resources for the benefit of all. 

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© 2022  Otsego County Conservation Association
7207 State Highway 80, PO Box 931 • Cooperstown, NY  13326
(607) 547-4488