News Items - Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
Longtime member and dedicated volunteer, Jen Siliko, explains the importance of attending the annual conference and talks about her favorite member benefits.

Jen Siliko
Director, Outdoor Pursuit Center
Miami University

When did you first fall in love with nature and why?
I don't recall an exact moment. I grew up in a rural area with a big backyard. I've always loved being outside and spending time in nature. I love the sounds and beauty of the natural world.
Why do you still love the wilderness today?
Nature is grounding. When I'm in the wilderness I can truly take a break from the day-to-day stresses of life and focus solely on the good stuff. Spending time outdoors always provides a sense of challenge that results in a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.
How did you join AORE?
I first heard about AORE as a student employee in the Outdoor Pursuit Center at Miami University. At the time, Tim Moore was the Director there and he always encouraged student staff to attend the AORE conference, explaining how it was a major window into how the industry works and experience that shouldn’t be missed. I attended the event for the first time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in I believe it was 1999!? That feels so long ago, but I still remember how important that first conference was in orienting me to the association and to the many people and resources that were available to me as I found my place in the industry and figured out the impact I wanted to make.
What do you enjoy most at the annual conference?
Networking, networking, networking! I also love the services offered through Career HQ.
What is your favorite conference memory?
One year, I met up with my friend, Anja, early in the morning before first light and we went hiking together. At the top of the trail we were able to enjoy a brisk sunrise over the mountains. The entire experience was marked by lovely conversation and beautiful scenery.
Why should people invest in attending the annual conference?
Honestly, the annual conference is a great way to gain new perspectives and ideas on the four core service areas of AORE: Networking, Advocacy, Career Advancement, Professional Development. You can also make great connections with other industry professionals and help out students who are new to the world of outdoor recreation and education.
Which of AORE's four core service areas do you tend to use the most?
Networking because I believe it's important to have a community of people in similar positions, with similar passions who are there to act as sounding boards and also, give support while you work towards enhancing your programs and grow your professional expertise in general.
What is the best member benefit, in your opinion?
I’d have to say that the best benefit is the member message boards. I have utilized this tool countless times as a member to connect with other members and determine best practices for various situations. The message boards have also brought to light other relevant topics that were not initially on my radar, keeping me informed of the latest issues impacting my industry peers.
What AORE volunteer roles have you held?
I’ve spent one year as an Access & Permitting Committee Member. I have also served one year as a member of the Student Development Committee (now called the Professional Development Committee). I am also the Lead Volunteer on the Career Development Action Team, which is helping to plan for the AORE-AEE Joint Conference in Spokane, WA this November.

What made you volunteer with AORE in the first place?
I enjoyed interacting with other industry professionals at AORE’s annual conference so much that I wanted to be able to continue those relationships in a more meaningful way throughout the rest of the year. Volunteering allowed me to do this as well as give back to the organization.
What keeps you wanting to come back and volunteer?
I enjoy working closely with young professionals in the industry as well as engaging with students who are just starting out. It is rewarding to help them find their niche where they
truly excel.
What have you gained through volunteering?
I’ve been able to build strong relationships with other professionals. There is this deep sense of personal gratitude that comes with giving back to something bigger than myself. Volunteering for AORE has helped me feel like I’m making an impact and contribution to this industry that I love.


NOTE: Jen helps to lead the work of AORE’s professional development committee, which offer exclusive services to members such as resume reviews and 1:1 mock interview practice and feedback. Find out how you can access these special member benefits by visiting our career advancement area in the AORE member portal!

Categories: Career Advancement, Conference News, Membership, Networking, Professional Development
Published: 06/24/19