AORE Association News September 2016 - Page 3

From the Executive Director

You may have used the phrase “global perspective” when trying to articulate a point that you have developed after examining the issue from a variety of viewpoints, especially seeking insight that is drastically different from your original opinion. Earlier this year, I had a chance to push outside of comfortable boundaries and find understanding and new knowledge—literally and figuratively.

AORE Advocacy Abroad China is a program made possible by Dr. Li Li Ji and the University of Minnesota’s School of Kinesiology, coordinated through the school’s American Culture Center in Sport, which conducts a program twice a year to introduce sport culture into universities and Chinese society. It offered AORE member Mitch Hoffman and me a chance to speak at five universities about the value of outdoor recreation.

At home, it is my job to articulate this value proposition on members’ behalf in the halls of D.C., collaborating with other NGOs and executive directors to effect change and move our missions forward, and conveying the ambassadorship and education that member programs provide for future conservationists, public land supporters, and teachers of lifelong passion for outdoor pursuits.

But how do you articulate the value of outdoor recreation and education? As I’ve traveled the United States and listened to AORE members’ needs, the answer still eludes many members working in programs where their value to campus or community is challenged, suppressed, or overlooked.

In China, on this global stage, I needed to explain AORE’s purpose to people who didn't understand. We spoke at rural institutions, often to first-generation students, in communities where students’ parents were mostly farmers. They did not wholeheartedly embrace the intrinsic value of outdoor recreation. Also, with a highly risk-averse culture, risk perception and the media’s portrayal of outdoor activities as dangerous proved to be a barrier when trying to articulate the value that AORE members espouse. I remember at one presentation, we were asked why programs would recreate in inclement weather, as that would surely lead to illness or death.

The challenge of explaining this value to hundreds of Chinese administrators, professors, and future educators solidified AORE’s message for me. It helped clarify why AORE exists and how we support members who are doing life-changing work for the people they serve. It’s quite simple—AORE serves as a resource for practitioners and academics who are educating 18- to 24-year-olds and introducing them to outdoor activities. AORE codifies the bodies of knowledge surrounding topics that concern members so that they can access an ever-growing network of colleagues to find the answers they need and tools they can employ on their campuses or in their communities. AORE centralizes the voices across the United States on issues of common concern—including access to public land and diversifying the future of outdoor recreation—leveraging the membership’s collective whole, increasing member programs’ clout, and helping them be more scale efficient.

I don’t speak Mandarin. I’ve never studied Chinese culture, history, or politics. Being in this space where I could not read or speak allowed me to be truly in the moment and enjoy observing life. I was amazed to watch the respect of academia and administrators, the rituals and beliefs found in color, art, or images, and the multigenerational interactions. There was so much wonder and awe for me personally with this trip—I felt amazingly healthy. I felt alive. And I felt more inspired to continue AORE’s work—championing the advancement of outdoor recreation and education.

It is 7,116 miles from Detroit Metro Airport to Shanghai, China. And while there is a world of difference and significant distance between these two places, our chance to share AORE’s belief that outdoor recreation positively affects people at a critical developmental time in their lives could not hit closer to home.

Adventure On,

Jeannette Stawski, CAE


Dear AORE,

Emily Thomas

Assistant Director and Membership Manager

Association of Outdoor

Recreation and Education

1100 N Main St. Ste. 101

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Work: 810.299.2782

Meghan Sullivan

Office and Communications Manager

Association of Outdoor

Recreation and Education

1100 N Main St. Ste. 101

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Work: 810.299.2782

AORE is humbled to have a team of full-time staff, part-time staff, and independent contractors that dedicate their time, skill and passion to our mission. From those working 5 hours a month to 40 hours a week, AORE is also made up of these passionate individuals:

Aaron Wolowiec

Allison Burtka

Brent Bell

Cally Hill

Jenn Velie

Kate Pojeta

Mia Axon

Mitch Hoffman