Outdoor Insider Fall 2015 - Page 11

of South Florida in Tampa. Jenn Velie Gosch coordinates and plans USF’s 28 off-campus trips per semester, and he is excited about bringing students into the outdoors. “Florida is the Madagascar of outdoor recreation,” he said, adding that kayaking through the Everglades is an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. “These are unique opportunities only available in Florida,” he said. Jim Rennie Leadership Award He first became passionate about outdoor education while working at a summer camp. In a ropes course, “I could see the group dynamic change with my help,” he said. Then, he attended one of AORE’s career roundtables. There, he saw people with outdoors-focused careers in the military, with outfitters, and in other roles. “And my eyes literally opened at that moment—I thought, ‘This could be my job,’” he said. Now, at USF, he works in partnership with other university departments to offer students innovative programming, including bringing adaptive paddling classes to their pool. The program has also expanded its trip offerings, which now include an international trip: to Iceland. Gosch served as the student representative on the AORE Board of Directors for the 2014 year. “That was a very rewarding experience, learning from professionals and actively engaging in a pretty big restructuring of AORE by finishing up our Governance Review and Strategic Pillars,” he said. He has worked hard behind the scenes to strengthen AORE: He immersed himself in AORE’s membership drive, researching different programs and using a calling tree, with a team of volunteers making calls. He has also been elected as the incoming Student Development Committee Co-Chair. Gosch said he appreciates AORE because it “provides an amazing network for professional development and for benchmarking your program.” He said that, through AORE’s network, he has both learned from and fielded questions from other members about how to improve their programs. The Jim Rennie Leadership Award recognizes contributions to AORE that go far beyond the ordinary and that have had a significant and lasting impact on the association and its mission. The award also recognizes professional work or leadership of unusual significance in the field of outdoor recreation and education. Jenn Velie, who received the 2014 award, has given to AORE in numerous ways, including as a student member, committee member, then as the Student Representative on the Board of Directors, and then as a Board of Directors member. She has also represented AORE at national conventions and trade shows. She has had a hand in student development, conference development, association strategic planning and navigating governance changes, working with the awards committee, and working with vendors. Velie has seen that keeping AORE running takes a lot of work from many people behind the scenes, so she encourages members to get more involved whenever they can, even if it’s just for a small project. Her career has taken her from student leader at the University of Central Florida, to Graduate Assistant at Georgia Southern University, to Program Director at Georgia Southern University for 3 years, to a recruiting firm in Florida. She noted that in the world of campus recreation, the outdoor group is often the “redheaded stepchild,” and she appreciates AORE for the support it gives these outdoor programs. “I’ve seen tremendous growth in the organization,” she said, including hiring an executive director and increasing AORE’s recognition in Washington, D.C. She is excited about “the presence in D.C. that the association has,” noting that the executive director is now “at the same table as many key players.” aore.org | nationaloffice@aore.org 11