Global wilderness education event to be hosted in Bentonville

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 513 views 

Conference goers attend the 2022 International Conference on Outdoor Leadership in Black Mountain, N.C.

Black Mountain, N.C.-based Wilderness Education Association Inc. will host its 34th annual International Conference on Outdoor Leadership in Bentonville.

The conference will take place Feb. 8-11 and is open to outdoor enthusiasts and professionals nationwide, including association members. The Wilderness Education Association, committed to developing professional outdoor leaders and educators, hosted its 2022 conference in Black Mountain, with nearly 300 attendees from six countries and almost 100 outdoor education and recreation organizations.

Visit Bentonville and Runway Group are co-hosts for the 2023 conference, including multiple keynote speakers who work in the outdoor industry, 28 workshops and visits to area mountain biking trails. The conference theme is cultivating innovation; attendees are expected to learn about pressing industry issues and take action on them.

“It is an honor to host this conference in Bentonville, the mountain biking capital of the world,” said Amanda Khanga, director of sales for Visit Bentonville. “Outdoor recreation is an incredible asset to our community. We welcome this opportunity to host outdoor leaders from throughout the world and showcase the expansive outdoor experiences our region has to offer.”

Following are some of the keynote speakers:

  • Luis Benitez, vice president of government affairs and global impact, VF Corp.
  • Erick Cedeño, Bicycle Nomad
  • Gary Vernon, Walton Family Foundation

Other highlights include:

  • Workshops on generational shift issues with Katherine Jeffery and on writing with Katie Ives
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion panels, including Lesford Duncan and Rachel Olzer
  • Trail run with Pete Ripmaster, 2018 champion of Iditarod Trail Invitational.

“The last two years tell us that the world needs recreation, wild places and connection with others more than ever,” said Ryan Carlson, executive director of the Wilderness Education Association. “We need outdoor leaders who are stewards of our land, champions of equity and competent, inspiring educators.”

The WEA is extending a steep discount to Arkansas residents, who can attend the conference for $100 (member price is $550). More information is available online at this link.