"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley

activatee logoAnd all it takes is you - whoever you are. You don't need to have had one million experiences, but rather made meaning of one that you are ready to share with us around the proverbial campfire.

ActivatEE is sharing platform designed by the Association for Experiential Education for its members and conference attendees during the International Conference. 

ActivatEE is a developmental process, both for the speaker and the audience, where we share ideas, test assumptions, and are asked to view a perspective through a different lens.

ActivatEE is designed to facilitate the process of creating one’s story, inspiring the use of one’s voice, and launching an idea - all on stage during a conference keynote. Each year at our International Conference, a small handful of individuals take the stage and share their stories. ActivatEE has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated and attended traditions at AEE Conferences.

Listen to dozens of stories told in the past on our AEE YouTube Channel!


Meet The ActivatEE 2022 Speakers!

renee roark headshotRenee Roark

Renee loves her work as an adventure therapist in middle Tennessee. She studied Adventure Based Psychotherapy at Prescott College and Outdoor Education at Georgia College. Renee is passionate about helping clients heal themselves through experiential approaches often in connection with nature. Outside of work, she loves gardening, baking, adventures and solo time with nature. Renee is also an artist who paints, writes poetry, and makes pottery and jewelry in hopes of inspiring those who struggle with mental health issues.

Steven Sassamansteve sassaman headshot

Steve Sassaman, PhD is an experiential educator and researcher with over fifteen years of experience ranging from residential summer camps to collegiate recreation programs. Currently, he serves Temple Universities Ambler Campus as the Assistant Director, Recreation Services and Outdoor Experiential Education. Steve also runs Sassaman Experiential Coaching LLC. Where he works with individuals and groups on personal and community wellness through adventure- and nature-based activities. Steve's research is centered on fostering interdependence through a healthy relationship with our more-than-human kin.

barbara mendez campos headshotBarbara Mendez Campos

Barbara was born and raised in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. She is currently pursuing a PhD in social work. Barbara earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a Geriatric Scholar and earned certificates in Clinical Dementia Practice and Addictions Counseling. She is a practicing licensed clinical social worker using person-centered, holistic, and adventure-based experiential approaches. Barbara has worked in substance abuse treatment centers, adult day care settings, memory clinics, long-term care facilities, outpatient and inpatient counseling facilities, and non-profit organizations. Barbara has created two music and memory programs in Florida and Michigan and has published research from these programs. In addition, Barbara is passionate about minority population research. Her future research interests revolve around program interventions for grief, caregivers, older adults, and substance abuse communities, along with health disparities and optimal culturally appropriate care.

Steve Smithsteve smith headshot

Steve Smith is the founder of Experiential Consulting, LLC (a risk management consultancy) and the author of Beneficial Risks: The Evolution of Risk Management for Outdoor and Experiential Education Programs (2021). Steve has worked in the outdoor industry for over thirty years, in the field, in the office, in the board room, and in national conference leadership roles, specializing in program leadership, risk management, and staff training. His career has included leadership roles with national organizations including Outward Bound and The Student Conservation Association. He served two terms as a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he continues to serve on the school's Board of Directors Safety Committee.

abriana johnson headshotAbriana Johnson

Abriana Johnson is a brand strategist/designer, author, podcaster and equestrian. With over 20 years of horse experience, she blended her passion for entrepreneurship, design, and horses into her business Black Unicorn Creative, a creative agency that teaches horse business owners how to optimize their online presence through branding development, strategic planning and design. When she’s not designing brand assets or strategizing with her equestrian clients, she enjoys podcasts, books and gardening. Abriana hosts the Black In The Saddle Podcast and The Digital Hoofprint Podcast. Her experiential learning brand, Cowgirl Camryn, boasts a book series she authored and illustrated, as well as equine-innovated learning workshops she designed for grade school students.

TA LoefflerTA loeffler headshot

Dr. TA Loeffler brings over 35 years of expertise leading people through significant life-changing experiences to every facet of their work. TA’s adventures have taken them to 52 different countries and all seven continents. TA has completed 6 & 4/5 of “The Seven Summits,” the highest peak on all seven continents. In 2020, TA was named to the “Canada’s 90 Greatest Explorers List” by Canadian Geographic. As a Professor of Outdoor Education at Memorial University, TA has developed a reputation for excellence in experiential education because their students are more likely to be outside chasing icebergs than sitting in a classroom. TA has received recognition for innovative experiential teaching. TA was named a 3M National Teaching Fellow in 2008. From AEE, TA received the Karl Rhonke Creativity Award (2007), the Outstanding Experiential Teacher of the Year (1999), and was selected to deliver the Kurt Hahn/Marina Ewald Address in 2018.

Drafting your keynote:

  • This platform invites you, the speaker, to share a story or idea through the use of voice, during a 7-9 minute mini-keynote to the global audience of the International Conference.
  • Think of an instant in time where you had an experience that became a profound teaching moment for you, which truly influenced or altered your way of thinking or being. Are you able and willing to share that message with others?
  • Now visualize how you would want to share that story in terms of keynote address. What did you hear, see, notice, and experience at that moment that had an immediate impact or had influence years down the road? Is there a method in your delivery that helps convey your message?

Answer these three questions:

  • Whatwhat is your story? what happened?
  • So what? Why is it important or developmental to you? What meaning did you take from it?
  • Now what? How have you moved forward or how do you plan to use this going forward? What is the transformation? How are you changed?


Your initial submission will likely not be your exact final presentation. This is just the first step in a number of iterations that you and your presentation will go through before delivering the final presentation. 

Please note that these presentations are to be an experience relevant to your perspective. You can certainly use bits of research to support your message, but this is not to be a research paper or a business promotion. We will really push all presenters to constantly evaluate their message, knowing we want to channel a lesson learned to activate the minds of those in the audience.   

People love visuals! While it is certainly not a requirement, we strongly encourage you to accompany your presentation with some sort of visual representation whether it be a slide show, video, or whatever other creative ideas you have!

The Process:

  • Draft your ActivatEE presentation and submit it by the deadline.
  • A team will review the submissions and send out acceptance notices.
  • You will be asked to set up at least two phone calls/or Zoom sessions in September with a committee member to discuss your presentation. These sessions are designed to provide feedback and suggestions regarding the delivery of the presentations.

Financial Support and Scholarships for the conference Registration will be available for ActivatEE speakers. We do not want the cost of the conference to prevent anyone from being part of ActivatEE. 

Resources for Speakers

In this videoActivatEE Coaches and previous speakers share what you can expect as a 2021 Speaker. You'll learn about the origins of this tradition, get an overview of the storytelling process, learn about some of the logistics involved in being a speaker, hear what you might experience in your speaker growth process, and get a glimpse into what speakers can expect from the coaching process. Plus: hear what the experience was like for one of our first-ever virtual ActivatEE Speakers in 2020!