Oglebay Institute, founded in 1930 by the Oglebay family, is an educational establishment seeking to improve the quality of life for West Virginians through education, recreation, culture and creative outlets. In pursuit of this mission, Oglebay offers four multi-disciplinary program areas: environmental education, performing arts, regional history interpretation and preservation, and visual and creative arts. Oglebay operates six facilities in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, as well as one in Terra Alto, West Virginia. Each of these facilities offer educational programs designed to help foster both personal and professional growth and enrichment.
Kathleen McDermott, President of Oglebay Institute, has presided over the development of many of the programs offered, helping to align the program outcomes with the institute’s mission. She says that although the wording of the mission of Oglebay Institute may have changed over the past 82 years, the goals and pursuit of the institute have not.
“We see our mission of appreciation, expression and discovery come to life every day. Whether it is a senior citizen appreciating a work of art on exhibit at the Stifel Fine Arts Center; a teen expressing herself in Improv class or a young boy discovering different species of salamanders along the trail at the Schrader Environmental Education Center- Oglebay Institute is serving an important role to many in the community,” says McDermott.
She and the Oglebay staff acknowledge that people learn in different ways and adaptation is necessary. Oglebay is adapting to changes in technology as it begins to introduce digital media learning into its programs through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and CREATE Lab.
The Schrader Environmental Education Center (SEEC) is the most well-known Oglebay Institute facility. Built from 97% recycled materials; it is said to be a regional showcase for “Green Architecture” and environmental awareness. The environmental education programs strive to strengthen the unique bond between children and nature and stress the importance of creative play outdoors. SEEC offers practical interaction between humans and nature, and the public programs are developed to nurture that interaction, such as astronomy, bird watching, nature hikes, maple sugaring, and lectures on living green. In addition to public programs, SEEC offers classes and workshops, day camps, and junior nature camps to educate youth about environmental scientific discoveries and technologies, aiding in the overall mission of the Oglebay Institute.
Known for its contributions to education across a variety of subjects, Oglebay Institute is continually praised for the development of its programs and the encouragement of life-long education. By empowering the people of Wheeling, West Virginia and surrounding areas within the Ohio Valley with the strength of wisdom and knowledge, the institute is constantly helping to improve the quality of life in several ways, inching closer to their mission.