AEE Heartland Region 

The AEE Heartland Region

Save the date for the 2024 Regional Conference:
March 28-30, 2024 at Touch of Nature

Thank you for joining us at the 2023 Heartland Region Conference! 

camp courageous logoApril 14-16, 2023

Camp Courageous, Monticello, Iowa

Inclusion, Community, & Challenge in the Heartland

2023 Registration Rates:

  • AEE Member $140
  • Non-Member $160
  • Student $100
  • Presenter $105
  • One Day $100
  • Virtual $40

Meals and Lodging 2023:

  • Meal Plan (Meal without lodging) - $60 *deadline to register for the meal plan is April 1.
  • Lodging #1: semi-private , all meals inclusive - $140
    • or $80 without meals.
  • Lodging #2: community : meals inclusive - $120
    • or $60 without meals.
  • Lodging #3: Camping, meals inclusive - $70
    • or $10 without meals

Find lodging details here!

*if you register after April 1, you will need to bring your own meals/make alternate meal plans. The cutoff for registering for the meal plan is April 1. 

Questions? Email:


See the workshop offerings here

Friday, 4/14
5:00-9:30 Registration Open
6:30-7:30 Dinner
7:30-9:30 Bowling Social
Saturday 4/15
8:00-8:45 Breakfast
8:45-10:45 Opening/Keynote
11:00-12:30 Workshop 1
12:45-1:45 Lunch
2:00-3:30 Workshop 2
3:45-5:15 Workshop 3
5:30-6:30 Keynote
6:30-7:30 Dinner
7:30-9:30 Music and Mocktails
Sunday 4/16
8:00-8:45 Breakfast
9:00-9:45 Workshop 4
10:00-10:45 Workshop 5
11:00-11:30 Closing

Keynote Speakers

Don Rogers HeadshotDon Rogers is a professor at Indiana State University (ISU).  Don directs the university’s recreation therapy program and the Keystone Adventure program at ISU’s Sycamore Outdoor Center. Don Rogers is also a husband, father of two and an avid bass fisherman.

Laurie Frank HeadshotLaurie Frank Is a former public school teacher who has worked in the adventure and experiential education field for over 40 years. Her major focuses are community building, collaborative leadership, experiential education, and appreciative inquiry. She was a leader in designing the nationally recognized Stress/Challenge adventure program for Madison, Wisconsin. 

Join us at the 2023 AEE/ESI Pre-Conference: Universal Experiential Education through Aerial Adventures

April 14, 2023    9am-4pm

Camp Courageous Monticello, Iowa

Registration Rate: $75 per person

This engaging full-day pre-conference workshop with Experiential Systems, Inc. will showcase active participation in an aerial adventure. Presenters will cover how to create an aerial adventure (challenge course, adventure park, zip line) program designed to include participants of all abilities. This will include program, course, training, and equipment design. Utilizing the philosophical underpinnings of developing a Universal Mindset and welcoming environment through the concept of Invitational Education will be a primary basis. This workshop is designed to expose participants to a different way of thinking when it comes to inclusion and accessibility. It will also more fully develop technical skills needed to work with people who may need additional equipment. Come prepared to dive deep into the accessibility world and come away with resources needed to assess your facility, course, and program. Though the focus of the workshop will apply to aerial adventures, much of the content can apply to other experiential education activities.

Presenters: Melanie Wills & Carla Hacker

Melanie has two decades working in the outdoor adventure industry and is passionate about using the outdoors to encourage growth, independence, and recovery in a variety of populations including those with disabilities. She loves getting out and active on challenge courses and helping others discover ways to make them be more accessible to anyone of any ability. She has experience in program management at multiple camps & outdoor centers and is currently the Director of Operations & Development/COO for Experiential Systems, Inc.

Carla has been working to provide universally accessible programming in the field of experiential education for many years and in a variety of settings. For the last 6 years she has been a trainer and universal accessibility specialist for Experiential Systems, Inc. Along with her team, she is continuing to develop and implement training curriculum and equipment design for full inclusion on challenge courses and ziplines. Carla has served on the board of directors for the Association for Experiential Education, has hosted and presented at numerous conferences both nationally and internationally, and is an active member of the ACCT.

ESI Open Enrollment Training

April 17th - April 22nd 2023

ESI ACCT Open Enrollment Certification Event April 17-22
Camp Courageous, Monticello, IA
$1000 tuition
$1200 tuition, lodging, and lunch each day

Certification training April 17-21. Certification testing April 22.

Learn more

Register Now

WFR Training at Bethel Horizons
Wilderness First Responder: May 9-13, 2023 (5-days + 25 hours pre-course work)● $625 per participant + instructor fees● Minimum of 9 participants● Maximum of 15 participants (per instructor)
Wilderness First Responder Recertification
May 5-7, 2023 (3-days + 20 hours pre-coursework)● $385 per participant + instructor fees● Minimum of 9 participants● Maximum of 15 participants (per instructor)

Follow Us!

people canoeing

Heartland Regional Council

Looking to get more involved in the AEE Heartland Region? We are looking for Regional Council Members! Our regional council meets monthly from September to June and is seeking new members to join our team. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with experiential educators from across our region and contribute to future initiatives across the Heartland. For more information or to join the next Regional Council meeting, please contact us at

The Heartland Region includes the following states and provinces:

Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan.

Join our email list! 

If you are NOT in our system yet: If you want to join our email list to stay up-to-date on AEE news, click here to create an account. You can select the Heartland Region to get on the list for Heartland newsletters.

If you ARE in our system already: If you would like to update your email preferences, just head to your Member Compass to update your profile information. You can select the Heartland Region to get on the list for Heartland newsletters.