For Steve Mohapp, teaching comes as naturally as his love of nature. One might even say it’s in his blood.
“I come from a family of teachers. My mom is a preschool teacher, my brother is a math teacher, and my sister is an English teacher. So teaching has always been a part of my life,” he says.
While growing up in Jamison, Pennsylvania, Mohapp played in the woods and small stream behind his neighborhood. He and his siblings would flip over rocks and logs, look for frogs, and play hide-and-seek.
It seems unsurprising, then, that while he was still a student in high school, he started working as a summer camp counselor at locations including the Philadelphia Zoo, where he led hands-on activities that introduced campers to program animals like armadillos and red-footed tortoises.
While attending Ursinus College, where he earned his bachelor’s in biology and environmental studies, Mohapp made a fateful decision. He accepted an internship at Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy that allowed him to help with restoration projects, community outreach, and educational workshops. His vision of a career in environmental education had taken on a sharper focus: fresh water.
Recalling his childhood days discovering the outdoors, he says, “Nowadays, I’m still flipping over rocks in streams, but I get to call it my career.” Mohapp joined Stroud Water Research Center as a part-time environmental educator in 2017. In March 2022, he joined the Education Department’s full-time staff of five working to deliver meaningful watershed education to learners of all ages and backgrounds.
Mohapp, soft-spoken and reflective, is silent for a moment. He lets the question put before him sink in. Then he says, “Being an environmental educator is about giving nature the opportunity to speak for itself.”
He and his fellow educators create such opportunities through scientific field studies. “I hope those experiences lead people to develop a relationship with nature and fresh water.”
If they do, credit may be given to Mohapp’s attentive ear. He listens well — not only to nature, but to the people around him. It’s a talent based on values: “Everyone engages with science, the environment, and fresh water in their own unique ways. Embracing everyone’s perspectives helps me find a shared appreciation for fresh water.”
Mohapp lives in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, with his dog, Bruce, who is a happy companion on hikes at local parks. He also plays lacrosse and enjoys spending time with family.
To give students of all ages the gift of learning from nature, support outdoor environmental education.