Hailey Doss Hester talks about receiving an AORE scholarship and how it increased access to professional development and networking opportunities within the outdoor recreation and education industry.

How did earning an AORE scholarship improve your overall professional development?
Earning an AORE scholarship has benefited me in so many ways! Having earned two in different ones in my lifetime has helped me progress mY outdoor education significantly. Funding to help achieve WFR recertification and attendance at the AORE annual conference has helped open doors when professional development finances were stringent at my university. I know those opportunities helped advance my education, personal development, professional connections, and career.
Outside of just gaining professional development, why do you think AORE scholarships and funds, such as student scholarship endowment, memorial funds, and student/professional development are important to the members of this organization?
Funding for student scholarships and professional development is important to members because it helps support others in their pursuit to achieve and be more. Those individuals often go on to be great stewards of the organization itself, and help advocate for the outdoors and the AORE due to their connections with the organization. I know I am very thankful for what the organization has given to me, and I try to give back as much as possible by volunteering and serving on committees.
Please share a quick story about your scholarship or experience that wouldn’t be possible without AORE.
As a new outdoor professional straight out of college, I was living paycheck to paycheck and could not fathom trying to save up for a WFR certification while also paying for a wedding that same year. Because of AORE's scholarship support, I didn't have to choose between once-in-a-lifetime moments, and maintaining an industry certification that was crucial to my job.
What would you tell other student/pro members thinking about applying for AORE scholarships?
If you're in a situation where you have dreams and goals, but not sure how you are going to get there on your own you should apply! Like the famous saying goes "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take". AORE is here to help support your goals and needs, let us love on you, so that one day you can return the favor.
What did you learn from your AORE scholarship and/or professional development opportunity?
I learned plenty in my recertification class, and I have a journal full of notes and ideas form the last AORE conference I attended that I have implemented back into my institution. By attending that conference I also served on a committee that resulted in my first publication!

hailey doss hester - aore member and scholarship winnerHow did you apply the knowledge you learned from your professional development or scholarship opportunity to your career in the outdoor industry?
To give one of numerous examples, at the last conference I attended on an AORE scholarship, I was able to make connections with individuals from another organization that was leading the way in POC leadership and programs. From those sessions, and later conversations, I am now pursuing a dissertation topic researching barriers to campus recreation, and looking at race differences within those barriers. This past conference will literally have impacts on my life for the next three years in my doctoral program and beyond. And, I hope to bring positive impacts to the people and programs I work with and serve long into the future because of it.
Why do you think these scholarship and professional development opportunities are important to AORE and advancing the larger outdoor industry?
I feel these opportunities often give someone a chance when they may have been out of financial options otherwise, or faced with delaying their progress potentially, for years. This has a negative impact on not only the person, but also the industry, because it means that less talent is entering the field or that people aren't able to build new skills and keep growing so the industry also misses out on that potential growth.
AORE scholarships are funded through the generous donations of people like you! Learn more about HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT AORE.