BOARD CHAIR REPORT: DECADE-IN-REVIEW
Greetings AORE Community,
It’s a welcome coincidence that a decade of reflection coincides nicely with my tenure at the association. I remember first hearing about AORE in 2010 during my LNT Master Educator course, which was taught by our friends at Landmark Learning. It was there that I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Keenan, a long-time member and supporter of AORE—you’d know Jeff by his infectious and memorable laugh.
Being a new professional in the outdoor industry, Jeff encouraged me to check out the association and consider attending the annual conference. I sat on this information for a year while I left the industry for a brief period to pursue a position in marketing. Nevertheless, attending an AORE conference remained on my bucket list. So in 2012 I pled my case to my then-supervisor, Chris Morris (another AORE supporter). I asked to attend the annual conference and expressed that I wanted to also present, even though I wasn’t *technically* working in the industry anymore. I was lucky enough to gain his support for pursuing the experience and I headed out to Utah.
I brought three students from FSU with me to the 2012 Conference in Snowbird, Utah and within a day, we were all hooked. Through good timing (and with the help of Jeff) I connected with members on an AORE committee and I became fast friends with them (and they still remain close friends of mine to this day). I’ll never forget running through the snow to the Tram Club, where Brad Beggs, a formally trained dancer, dragged me up on stage to ballroom dance in front of 100+ other members. Fast forward a few years to my current role on the AORE Board. I often have to remind myself that public speaking at the Annual Business Meeting will never be as embarrassing as my ballroom dancing debut at the Tram Club. Other personal highlights of my time at the association include watching AORE member, Matt Marcus, take 12 students to lunch in a single outing in 2014 and also, riding bikes with fellow board members on our way to the 2016 mid-year meeting. I remember celebrating former students Casey Dunphy (2015) and Donald Schmit (2016) when they were honored with the Bill March Award as well. All of these memories showcase what AORE is about---connection, fond memories, mentorship, and empowerment.
I won’t bore you all with the play-by-play of my association involvement over the years. I simply share these personal anecdotes with the intention of illustrating how much change can occur in a decade. In 2009, I could barely pack a backpack and thought my $15 Old Navy Anorak (remember those?) was a suitable rain jacket. In 2019, I had my students craft letters to congressional representatives as a part of their final exam in my OEL 351: Public Lands Policy class, which was influenced largely by The Wilderness Society’s public lands curriculum—a resource I might not have ever known about if it wasn’t for getting to meet Paul Sanford through AORE. I am a better professional and a more effective educator as a result of the relationships and resources made available to me through AORE. Change is difficult, and it’s certainly not always seamless, but when I look back on both my personal growth and reflect on how AORE has changed as an association in the past decade, I am confident that we're poised to achieve even more in the years ahead.
As we enter 2020, AORE is moving in a direction that will continue to expand resources and access, with the goal of enhancing our supportive member community even further. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this association and I am proud of what AORE has accomplished to date. I'm excited to witness AORE's continued growth in the coming decade as we are guided by our new strategic framework.
Like most worthwhile ventures, our return on investment (ROI) is connected to the energy and effort we put into our experience here. I encourage each one of you to consider how you can invest in AORE and its members through volunteer service, sharing resources, and financially supporting initiatives such as the association's Student Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Thank you for being a part of AORE’s 2009-2019 story. Here’s to the next decade together!
AORE Board Chair