Member Spotlight: Raelyn

Member Spotlight,

Meet Raelyn Viti!

Raelyn HeadshotRaelyn (she/her/hers) grew up in New Hampshire and after some traveling returned to New Hampshire! Raelyn is a Professor of Outdoor Education/nature and mental and emotional health at New England College.

Tell us a bit about what you do at your organization. 
Teach and maintain the OE program for the undergraduate students. I enjoy working with students to engage them and support their development or enhancement with their relationship with nature. We affectionately joke that all we do is "play games outside in the woods". In reality, I enjoy what I do. I work side-by-side with my students on-site and in the field leading backcountry trips, ropes course experiences, therapeutic services, and more. My office is in a Yurt. This has become a highlight for many students in the program. The yurt has brought us together as a small community on campus.
Tell us more about yourself! 
After high school, I joined the Army. I learned so much about myself and who I am. I ignored what I thought I knew about myself and tried to pursue a degree in BioChemisty, but the pull to be outside was far too great. Over the years I have satisfied my love for science and medicine through being a SOLO instructor, EMT, and ski patroller. I have always turned to education as a place to find my center. Asa former Bounders teacher, I know how to combine the traditional content areas of school with engagement in nature for my students. As a former mountaineer, I know that mountains and nature can support realizing that our current situation is only temporary and placed in a perspective that is manageable.
I shifted my focus and attained a MEd in Moderate Special Needs and continued to work with students with reading and language disabilities outside. Later I pursued a PhD in Education with a focus on Experiential Education, again with a focus on how traditional Education should be supportive to whole student by being in nature. Just recently I completed a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and work in the scope of Adventure/Wilderness Therapy with teenagers in residential treatment.
On a recent trip to Costa Rica, while visiting a program a work with, my daughters expressed how much they enjoyed the experience of being solo tourists, not part of a group. This brought a smile to my face. They were able to learn about Costa Rica thought their own lens and experience and not one designed by a company or group.
Currently, I have re-embraced mountain biking as my daughters have picked up the activity and pushed their own limits. I can do nothing but follow their lead and allow my own lens to change as I rewrite my own perceptions of my experiences.
What excites you when you think about the future of Experiential Education?
That Experiential Education is a meaningful philosophy in the Educational realm of teaching.
Who or what inspires you?
Stories of Resilience. Recently I have dealt with a tragic loss in my family unit. Rather than turn to self-help books on grief and mourning I turned to stories of resilience in nature and mountain feats.
In your free time, we can probably find you:
Running and listening to a book.
How long have you been involved with AEE?
Maybe 15-20 years. 
What is the most rewarding part about being a Member of AEE?
The conferences!
Favorite Moment at AEE?
Presenting my research at a regional conference. 
Fun Fact:
We are in progress to become Accredited by AEE.

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