Member Spotlight: Carol

Member Spotlight,

Meet Carol Smith!

carol sCarol (she/her/hers) grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and currently lives in Gibsonville, NC and teaches in Elon, NC. Carol is a Professor of Education, Program Coordinator for the Outdoor Leadership & Education major and Adventure Based Learning minor in the Dr Jo Watts Williams School of Education at Elon University.

Tell us a bit about what you do at your organization. 
Mostly I teach our major/minor classes; Introduction to Outdoor Experiential Education, Leave No Trace, and the Senior Seminar. I also teach more general education courses; Mental Health First Aid, Modern Summer Olympic Games … and co-facilitate a study away in our January term to New Zealand on Critically Engaged Adventure Based Eco-tourism.
Of course, as a faculty in higher education my day also consists of meetings, service work and research in the discipline. I focus on grit and perseverance and how being outside impacts our mental health.
Tell us more about yourself! 
I am the youngest of three, all of whom majored as undergraduates in K-12 physical education. After that, our paths diverged (my sister remained in physical education as an elementary school teacher; my brother ended up teaching woodworking at the high school level; me in outdoor education at the university level). I married after graduate school and we have moved around a bit (MD, VA, OH, TX, Japan, back to TX, SD and now NC). We have a plethora of degrees between us – a total of 9!
We have lived in NC for 25 years, and currently are the proud pet parents of 2 very sweet, but occasionally mischievous cats. They keep us on our toes. My husband is a woodworker, teaching at a local community college, and creates amazing furniture. Our house is entirely furnished (except the couch) by his creations. I am very lucky.
For my first 15 years at Elon, I was very involved in the professional field of physical education and health. My PhD is in outdoor education, when I was able to create the minor and then major, I moved out of physical education and health, totally into outdoor education, and I am thrilled. I have a department which encourages thinking outside the box, a former department chair who made such a difference in my professional growth, a new chair who believes in the importance of outdoor experiential education, and a dean who creates opportunity and totally supports the program.
What excites you when you think about the future of Experiential Education?
My students. Their passion, vision and persistence make me happy about the future as I see them making a difference and doing great things. We focus on social justice issues and inclusion; issues which need to be enhanced.
Who or what inspires you?
So many people (family members, friends, mentors). Being outside in lovely locations. Being active.
In your free time, we can probably find you:
Outside in the garden or just spending time with my husband (and fur-kids). Trekking in different locations.
How long have you been involved with AEE?
AEE was always “the” experiential organization, and at first, I was intimidated by … well, everything and everyone. Then I realized that I had been very involved and made a difference with my previous professional organizations. Why couldn’t I do the same thing with AEE. I joined a few years ago and just threw my name into the hat to volunteer. Sherry and crew reached out, I stepped in and … I have served on a few committees, the most fun of which was being on the Host crew for the 50th conference. I met amazing, committed individuals, and found my voice.
What is the most rewarding part about being a Member of AEE?
Knowing the passion others have for the discipline, and that everyone has something positive to contribute. People are willing to listen and are committed to making a positive difference.
Favorite Moment at AEE?
It is nice to know that I am not the only one out there who believes in the importance of experiential education, teaches experiential education, and lives a similar life to mine. Being at AEE conferences gives me the feeling of being with folks with similar back grounds and experiences.
Fun Fact:
My husband and I built our house (with our hands, from scratch) during the pandemic and beyond. It's 98% done!

Find Carol here: 336-278-5872 (work) 

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