News Items - Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
AEE Conference Chair (and AORE member) Brian Croft discusses why he loves the outdoors, shares conference reflections, and more!


Tell us about your career path.
I've worked in the fields of experiential education and outdoor recreation for 11 years across various settings---from environmental education and challenge courses to youth programming and summer camps. And now, I'm the Coordinator of Outdoor Programs at Indiana University and an Instructor in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Department. I have both a B.S. of Science in Recreation and a M.S. of ED in Recreation Administration from Southern Illinois University (SIU).

When did you fall in love with nature?
I grew up outside. We had a crick (that’s right...Dawson had a Creek, I had a CRICK) that ran behind our house. Growing up, my biggest decision on the weekends was whether to go left or right on the water. I think that’s where my love of the outdoors started...Exploring the mud and muck in my backyard, building forts and tree houses, sitting around campfires, and everything in between. 
Why do you love the wilderness today?
I love the outdoors because of what we can learn through it…. It will forever be my favorite classroom. Seeing students “find themselves" on outdoor excursions, struggle and thrive, and experience real hardships over the years has been incredible. 

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to spend whatever spare time that comes along with my family. I have an amazing partner named Denise, who is the most incredible person in the world. I have a beautiful son named Liam and another is on the way, due this May. As of now, we are undecided on a name for our new addition, but we’re thinking about Kurt Hahn Junior. You’ll find me happiest around a campfire with my family, strumming on my guitar (cliché, I know)
How have you been involved with AORE and AEE over the years?
I’ve been a member of both associations since 2008. I was also lucky enough to serve in a bunch of volunteer leadership capacities through AEE. This includes time spent as the former AEE Regional Chair, the AEE Student Summit Co-Founder, and as a member of the AEE Board of Directors from 2015-2018. Now I'm excited to step into the role of AEE Conference Chair in 2019 and collaborate with Jeannette Stawski, Executive Director of AORE, and someone I've personally been lucky enough to know for several years now through my membership in that organization. 

Can you talk about your experiences planning the joint annual conference with the AORE team?
Sure! We recently joined up in Spokane, WA to look at the hotel and convention center where we will host the conference. Of course we talked logistics and toured meeting areas, event space, guest rooms, that sort of thing. But we also got the chance to get to know the city and each other better. We really had fun out there and also made a lot of progress on planning for the learning expedition that will bring us together this fall. There even was time for some filmed conversations with Jeannette thanks to members of the AORE team. In the videos, we discuss different aspects of the annual conference, touch on a few of the adventures we had around Spokane, and reminisce about our own conference memories from past years. By the end of the trip the whole team didn't want to leave! But, we're revved up for continuing our work and can't wait to see each other again in November, when our collective vision for the conference finally comes to life and we can connect with members like you face-to-face. 

Note: Interview conducted by Sara Krueger, AORE Marketing & Communications Manager. All videos related to the annual conference are housed in AORE's online video library

Category: Conference News
Published: 03/15/19