Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute - Register Now
Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute workshop attendees participate in a collaboration skill building exercise on Dec. 9, 2011

The Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute is a proposed as forum for learning for environmental professionals and policy makers to better address complex environmental issues. The Institute will engage representatives from public, private and not-for-profit sector organizations in applied and experiential learning settings. The curriculum will be focused on environmental sustainability, collaborative process skills, and organizational leadership development.


Learn, lead, partner for a sustainable Ohio

What is OELI?

OELI - Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute was first developed in 2011 to give Ohio environmental and natural resource professionals the skills they need to deal with complex and often controversial environmental and natural resource issues through collaborative, integrative, and inclusive planning and decision-making processes.

Based on the latest research in the fields of collaborative resource management, communication, decision science, and negotiation, we’ve identified the critical skills today’s environmental leaders need to work with diverse stakeholder groups, communicate complex ideas, resolve disputes, and integrate scientific information with stakeholder values and concerns.

Each session includes instruction from state and national experts, hands-on application exercises, introduction to practical skills and tools, and open dialogue with environmental professionals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Participants will learn how to:

  • Design and lead collaborative processes that integrate science and public values;
  • Facilitate constructive, respectful dialogue and decision-making on controversial environmental issues;
  • Communicate effectively on complex and controversial issues;
  • Partner with colleagues and peers across disciplines and sectors to align visions and goals;
  • Build and participate in networks focused on effective environmental leadership in Ohio.

Learn more...

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Program Directors and Speakers

Anne Baird is a Program Director in the School of Environmental and Natural Resources.  She conducts research and educational programs focusing on decision making and environmental management.  Anne offers distance education on climate change, coordinates the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program and Co-directs the Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute.  Most recently Anne has worked on the Know Your Well Water program in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health.

Joe Bonnell is Program Director for Watershed Management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.  Joe conducts educational programs and research focusing on collaborative approaches to natural resource management. His programs include the Ohio Watershed Network, Ohio Watershed Academy, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist. He also teaches environmental and natural resource management and conducts research on behavior change and leadership.


Chester Bowling serves as an OSU Extension Specialist providing leadership for Community Leadership and Management programming in the State of Ohio.  His focus is the development of the capabilities of elected, appointed, and volunteer community leaders throughout Ohio.  He develops and delivers educational programs that are designed to teach program participants leadership. 

During a project, community or organization, leaders get experience in creating a vision, designing a strategic plan, implementing the plan, and evaluating the results. My emphasis is on enhancing the organization or community social infrastructure by identifying and building upon community, organizational, and individual assets, strengths and capacities. 

I also work with the 76 community leadership programs in Ohio, creating and delivering leadership educational programs.  These community leadership programs bring together leaders from the public and private sectors, including elected officials, business owners, educators and leaders in the non-profit sector.  The intention is to create a critical mass of leaders within each community who have developed the relationships, knowledge, and vision that enable the community to effectively address its challenges and opportunities. 

Joe E. Heimlich, Ph.D. is a Professor with Ohio State University Extension, a Specialist in museums and organizational capacity building based at COSI (a large center of Science) and holds appointments in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Science Graduate Program, both at OSU.  He is a Principal Researcher with the Lifelong Learning Group where he works on an array of projects, focusing on informal learning and capacity building for zoos, nature centers, science centers, and other museums. 

For over 30 years, Joe has been engaged in the arena of environmental free-choice learning.  He has worked on research, evaluation, and teaching on topics including solid waste management, water, biodiversity, conservation, energy, sustainability, Public Participation in Scientific Research, and  informal STEM.  Dr. Heimlich’s research has long focused on adult learning in informal environmental settings, and he works with zoos, nature centers, parks, botanical gardens, science centers, museums, and other institutions and governmental agencies to help them improve their efficacy to mission through education of visitors. 

Joe is an award winning educator and researcher, and is the author of nearly a hundred peer-reviewed academic journal articles along with dozens of academic chapters, and books.  He has collaborated on numerous partnerships leading to nationally used teaching resources and handbooks.  Joe conducts project-based studies and evaluations for which he publishes white papers and has written more than 350 popular publications.  Joe is widely known for his methodological work in evaluation of free-choice learning.  As a specialist in Community Development for Extension, Joe has spent years working with organizations and institutions in communities on building capacity.

Maggie Lewis teaches Managerial Negotiations, Leadership and Teamwork and Leadership and Character at the Fisher College of Business and Managing Public Organizations, Collaborative Governance Theory and Practice at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

Lewis specializes in collaborative process and conflict resolution strategies designed to save time, money and maximize joint gains. She has served as a mediator, facilitator, trainer and negotiation coach for public, private and non-profit leaders throughout Ohio. Maggie is a graduate of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and The Ohio State University.

Robin Wilson, Associate Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science. Robin's research focuses on the individual decision making process under risk and uncertainty.  Specifically, she studies the interplay between experiential and analytic information processing and the influence this has on risk perception and ultimately judgment or choice behavior.  She is also interested in the development of communication efforts and decision support tools that assist individuals in making more informed choices that reflect the fundamental values and objectives of the individual or institution.  She pursues these interests across multiple land and resource management contexts (e.g., forests, wildlife, water), multiple hazards (e.g., fire, agricultural runoff, carnivores), and types of decision makers (e.g., laypeople and experts).