AEE Awards & Honors


There are many outstanding, often unsung, experiential practitioners whose high standards, commitment and contributions have inspired others to dream and to act. AEE Awards recognize individuals and organizations for their contributions to the theory of experiential education and their service to AEE. As conceived by AEE's Board of Directors, the awards process is driven by AEE members.
Distinguished Researcher Award

Research continues to assume a growing level of importance in both the academic and applied contexts. This award provides a declaration of the value of that enterprise and recognizes the role that long-term and productive research efforts provide our fields. (“Nothing is more useful than a good theory.” Kurt Lewin)

This award requires a minimum of ten years involvement and is intended to provide recognition of exemplary research productivity and visibility in the fields of Experiential Education.

2021 Recipient: Will Dobud

Will Dobud PhD is a social work lecturer at Charles Sturt University and adventure therapy practitioner experienced in working across the United States, Australia, and Norway. Will’s research interests relate to improving client experiences in outdoor therapy, decolonisation, and preserving the dignity of those we serve. Along with Professor Nevin Harper, Will was the co-editor of Outdoor Therapies: An Introduction to Practice, Possibilities and Critical Perspectives. Will’s next book, co-authored by Dr Stephan Natynczuk, Solution-Focused Practice in Outdoor Therapy: Co-Adventuring for Change will be released in early 2022.


  • Must be a current member of AEE

  • Importance of research contributions

  • Continuity of research involvement

  • Diversity of publication and presentation outlets particularly those that are refereed

  • Creative and innovative impacts to research within the experiential education community

  • Presence of awards, keynotes, grants, etc. that speak to a research presence

Past Recipients:

2020 - No award given

2019 - Tonia Gray

2018 - Jayson Seaman
2017 - Christine Norton and Jim Sibthorp
2016 - Anita Tucker
2015 - Denise Mitten
2014 - no award given
2013 - Alan Ewert
2012 - H. "Lee" Gillis
2011 - Mike Gass
2010 - Keith Russell

Organizational Member of the Year Award
Presented to an organization that maintains innovative and outstanding programming at consistently high standards and demonstrates consistent commitment to and support for the work of AEE.

2021 Recipient: Project Venture/National Indian Youth Leadership Project

The National Indian Youth Leadership Project is a Native controlled nonprofit, incorporated in New Mexico in the late 80’s. NIYLP is the developer of Project Venture.

Project Venture serves mid and high school Indigenous and other youth. PV is a combination of outdoor adventure, service learning with an environmental focus, with a strong Indigenous cultural approach. PV is based on a strong research-based foundation.

Project Venture was recognized as the Most Effective program for Indigenous youth in the SAMHSA-sponsored National High Risk Youth Study. Project Venture is Evidence-based at the highest level. PV has received numerous awards and recognitions in the last 35 years.


  • Open to current AEE Organizational and Accredited Members only.

  • Must have maintained innovative and outstanding programming at consistently high standards for at least five years prior to nomination.

  • Must have demonstrated consistent commitment to and support for the work of AEE.

Past Recipients:

2020 - No award given

2019 - Deer Hill Expeditions

2018 - Minnesota State University, Mankato
2017 - Enviros
2016 - Thompson Island Outward Bound
2015 - Brevard College
2014 - Camp Mary Orton
2013 - The Mosaic Project
2012 - Prescott College
2011 - High 5 Adventure Learning Center
2009 - College of DuPage
2008 - Santa Fe Mountain Center
2007 - Sterling College
2006 - Georgia College and State University,Outdoor Education Academic Program
2005 - Omni Youth Service
2004 - Project Use
2003 - The University of New Hampshire's Outdoor Education Program
2002 - The Challenge Course Advisory
2001 - Learning Unlimited Corporation
2000 - Washington State University 4-H Bonney Lake Challenge
1998 - Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp
1997 - Project Adventure

Servant Leader Award
This award recognizes individuals for their active, excellent servant leadership to the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) and its members.

2021 Recipient: Federico A. Borroel

Federico A. Borroel, MS, LPC-S, CCAT (Fred) formed RelateAbility, PLLC and San Antonio Adventure Therapy, PLLC after serving in the non-profit sector as a program director, counselor, trainer, grant writer, and clinical supervisor. He specializes in relationship building for families and colleagues. Most of Fred’s professional experience has been dedicated to helping trauma survivors achieve relational goals and helping trauma serving professionals rejuvenate their capacity to care for others. He has held a range of servant leader positions with the Association for Experiential Education, including Chair of the Association’s Therapeutic Adventure Professional Group Leadership Council and the Association’s Certification Council.


  • Has demonstrated active, excellent leadership to AEE for at least five years previous to the nomination for this award.

  • Exhibits the highest level of ethical practices.

  • Has demonstrated a passionate commitment to furthering experiential education principles.

  • Exemplifies that the "how and why" of doing something is as important as the "what will be done."

  • Is open to non-members.

Past Recipients:

2020 - No award given

2019 - Brian Croft

2018 - Joe Austin
2017 - Maurie Lung
2016 - Elizabeth Speelman
2015 - John Regentin
2014 - Christine Norton
2013 - Andrew Bobilya
2012 - Anita Tucker
2011 - Terry Nail-Williams
2010 - Joel Cryer, Aleta Meyer, Deb Sugerman
2009 - Steve Pace, Scott Robertshaw
2008 - Jude Hirsch, Sandy Newes, Dennis Call
2007 - Bobbi Beale, MB Buckner
2006 - Brenda Porter, Jeanine Stocks
2005 - Scott Banderoff, Katrina Guerkink, Marianne Scippa
2004 - Al Rock, Jennifer Payne, Christian Itin
2003 - Mark Rowland, Sam Tower
2002 - Charles "Reb" Gregg
2001 - Anna Kay Vorsteg, Mark Guidry
2000 - Sylvia Dresser, Margaret Lechner, Zeke Zeliff
1999 - Rob Rubendall
1998 - Michael Terrien, Chris Lupton, Tex Texeira
1997 - Rick Curtis, Bill Proudman, Nina Roberts

Karl Rohnke Creativity Award
Presented to an individual whose outstanding commitment to experiential education principles are evidenced through the design, creation and/or production of experiential education resources.

2021 Recipient: Shoshanna Sumka

Shoshanna Sumka is the executive director of ISEEN, the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network. At ISEEN, Shoshanna works to inspire and support experiential educators and connect lifelong learners through an inclusive network that offers unique professional development opportunities. 

Shoshanna has served as assistant director of global learning and leadership at American University, resident director of the University of Idaho’s program in Quito, Ecuador, and coordinator of global initiatives and service learning at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. She is the author of numerous articles and two books: Working Side By Side and Health and Safety for Secondary School Programs Abroad.  She has a B.A. and M.A. in applied anthropology and a background in global social justice.


  • Must be a current member of AEE.

  • Must have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to experiential education principles.

  • Must have designed, created, and/or produced one or more of the following experiential education resources and/or events: video, book, workshop/seminar, newsletter, artwork, article, play, electronic-media resource, program, or educational materials.

Past Recipients:

2020 - No award given

2019 - Seth Hawkins

2018 - Jude Hirsch
2017 - Michelle Cummings
2016 - Amy Climer
2015 - Gary Stauffer
2014 - Madhu Sudan
2013 - no award given
2012 - Marilyn Levin
2011 - Maurie Lung
2010 - Kim Wasserburger
2009 - Brent Bell
2008 - Chris Cavert
2007 - TA Loeffler
2006 - Clifford Knapp
2005 - Tom Smith
2004 - no award given
2003 - Thomas A. Shearer
2002 - no award given
2001 - Rufus Collinson
2000 - Sam Sikes
1999 - Jim Cain
1998 - Mobile Team Challenge
1997 - Sandy Carlson

The Michael Stratton Practitioner's Award
This award honors an experiential practitioner who has demonstrated consistently high levels of performance in working directly with students or clients. This person's work "in the trenches" demonstrates that an individual practitioner can bring about significant change and impact the lives of students, participants or clients.

2021 Recipient: Sarah Gough

Sarah Gough celebrates over 20 years of facilitation experience, spreading experiential education across the globe as Executive Director of Play for Peace, an organization that brings together youth, adults and organizations from communities in conflict through cooperative play to create laughter, compassion and peace. Grounded by an MSW in interpersonal relations from the University of Michigan, her passion for mentoring change-makers and training future generations of facilitators is evidenced by her founding of a Trainers Certification course for experiential educators and leading ongoing workshops with young people in Latin and North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She has published the direct impact of her work with articles in JEE, other publications and conferences as well as with the book co-authored PeaceCircles. In 2020, she created a Play for Peace program, "Playscapes" facilitating online 2D experiential workshops with State Department and university programs for students and teachers in Iraq, Poland, Germany and more. Sarah is also an advisor to Kikori, a mobile app & community driven platform of experiential education activities for educators, facilitators and trainers.


  • Must be a current member of AEE.

  • Must demonstrate high ethical standards.

  • Must have demonstrated consistently high levels of performance as a practitioner of the experiential education process.

  • Must have a solid knowledge of quality standards and demonstrated this knowledge throughout her/his practicing career.

  • Is ideally "in the trenches" on a daily basis, a worker more than a program director.

  • Should be a practitioner more than a theorist.

  • Is ideally a full-time experiential educator.

  • Lives and works with a passion for experiential education.

  • Has demonstrated that an individual practitioner can bring about significant change or impact in the lives of students, participants or clients.

  • Is ideally involved with and committed to AEE.

Past Recipients: 

2020 - No award given

2019 - Bobbi Beale

2018 - Maria Jose (Mache) Trevino
2017 - Jeff Wilson
2016 - Chih-Mou Hsieh
2015 - Kim Sacksteder
2014 - Tony Alvarez
2013- Ken Kalisch
2012 - Sandy Kohn
2011 - Rick Medrick
2010 - Pam McPhee
2009 - David W. Lovejoy
2008 - Gary Stauffer
2007 - Denise Mitten
2006 - Bob Henderson
2005 - Jim Schoel
2004 - no award given
2003 - Marty Knuth
2002 - Thomas Leahy
2001 - Jean Berube
2000 - H. "Lee" Gillis
1999 - Richard Rutschman
1998 - Karen Warren
1997 - Laurie Frank
1996 - Dan Creely & Angel Russek
1995 - JoAnna Woo Allen
1994 - Craig Dobkin
1993 - Betsy Caldwell Dalgliesh
1992 - Deborah Eads
1991 - Sanford Tollette
1990 - Karl Rohnke
1989 - Reno Taini
1988 - Ava Heinrichsdorff
1987 - Keith King
1986 - Michael Stratton