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

And 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.

AEE 48th Annual International Conference - November 12 - 14, 2020 - Virtual


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 in that moment that had immediate impact or had influence years down the road?  Is there a method in your delivery that helps convey your message?
  • Answer the 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 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 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 Skype 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.


2019 AORE-AEE Conference ActivatEE Speakers

Listen Now!


(*From left to right)

Karen Warren (she/her pronouns) recently retired after 36 years teaching and leading trips at Hampshire College. She has taught courses in experiential education, outdoor leadership, wilderness studies, and social justice. Karen has written and spoken extensively on social justice issues in outdoor experiential education. Karen's 2019 speech was centered around her own journey of being a woman in the outdoor education field and the wisdom she’s gained as a lifelong career as an outdoor educator to deconstruct the master narrative.


Deidra Goodwin helps people find their personal definition of "outdoorsy" while exploring all of the different ways that can look. This is why Deidra is an AORE member, and AEE member and an Appalachian Trail Conservancy Next Generation Advisory Council Member. She is self acceptingly awkward, an incredibly amateur photographer with two in amused but talented dog models. Professionally, she is the Challenge Course Graduate Assistant at Western Kentucky University. Deidra's 2019 speech focused on how outdoor education has helped her cope with her perfectionism.


Rachel Hunsell is the Expeditions Coordinator for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Her work entails facilitating primitive, backcountry programs, providing compassionate peer to peer emotional support for families grieving the loss of a fallen service member. Rachel's 2019 speech was centered around her brother’s death during his military service and her healing through becoming an expedition coordinator on Mt. Kilimanjaro for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.   


Jeff Baierlein is the Director of Viristar, providing training and consulting services to experiential and outdoor education organizations worldwide. Jeff is an AEE accreditation reviewer and a past member of the AEE Board of Directors. He is previously the Executive Director of the AEE-Accredited Boojum Institute for Experiential Education, and the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center. Jeff's 2019 speech focused on how the outdoor center where he worked burned to the ground in the CA fires, and how he and a group of resilient outdoor, experiential educators came together to rebuild the organization and his team.


Sam Bragg obtained her BA degree in International Studies from Gallaudet University, and then went on to get her Master’s in Outdoor Leadership from Saybrook University and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Sam has always been passionate about the outdoors since a young age, especially coming from a family with strong roots in agriculture and the outdoors in the great woods of Maine. Sam has discovered many ways to continue her passion and love for the outdoors by working at different local farms, camps and conservation programs. Sam is eager to continue participating in the current dialogue on how to create a diverse and inclusive environment for outdoor programs throughout the nation. Samantha's 2019 speech focused on her experiences being deaf in the outdoors and how overcoming bias and enhancing inclusion can benefit everyone. 


Michelle Pagano is currently a Senior Instructor for REI Co-op Experiences where she is responsible for training, teaching, and developing outdoor programs for the Upper Midwest Region. Michelle began her work within the outdoors at Texas Woman’s University where she worked with students to rethink and redefine the outdoors. Most of all, what she hopes her work to always belong to is the belief that the outdoors is a place for everyone. Michelle's 2019 speech was centered around her mother's immigration story from Colombia and its parallels with her through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, to remind us that the outdoors should be a place that everyone belongs. 


Listen to the 2019 Speakers Now on our YouTube Channel!


For more information, visit our blog post: What is ActivatEEGet ready to inspire your peers!

 Here are some past presentation examples to get the juices flowing…