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The Wilderness Education Association's 2024 International Conference on Outdoor Leadership (ICOL) will take place at the YMCA’s Blue Ridge Assembly conference center in Black Mountain, NC, just outside of Asheville, NC.  The 2024 ICOL is designed to deliver an inspired, practical, and motivating learning experience for attendees. The theme for the 2024 conference will be FINDING TRUE NORTH: GUIDING WILDERNESS EDUCATION WITH INTENTIONALITY.

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The WEA is thrilled to present culture shaping and innovative leaders that will help curate your experience.  The keynote speakers are business leaders, entrepreneurs, award winners, athletes, authors, gearheads, teachers and trainers, and passionate about wild spaces and the future of the outdoors. Each individual is a powerhouse in their corner of the industry with a unique set of experiences and a deep perspective on the professionalism of the outdoor leader. We couldn't be more excited for them to share their insights at ICOL 2024!

Rená Koesler

Rená Koesler is passionate about adventure and wilderness education. As a former professor at Longwood University in Virginia, she used that platform to teach and inspire students to love, appreciate and protect the wild outdoors.   

During her tenure at Longwood, she was a rafting guide on the Snake and Salmon Rivers, a WEA Instructor, a NOLS Instructor, President of AORE, member of AEE, created the Outdoor Education program at Longwood, taught graduate students at Teton Science Schools, and schlepped students around the globe (Africa, Nepal, Patagonia and Europe) engaging in adventure excursions.  

Rená is currently a Business Adventure Coach and Speaker. She continues to lead people on hikes in Colorado (where she resides), and engage groups in discussions most relevant to their business and personal lives. Rená teaches and inspires people to seek their greatest potential and to not leave any stone uncovered or mountain unclimbed.

The WEA is home to Rená because this is where it all started for her in 1977, when WEA began.

Lori Danz

Lori Danz credits her father as being her foremost teacher who provided knowledge and inspired a love of nature. Now in her 32nd year of teaching, Danz brings nature directly to students as a high school biology teacher at Superior High School. She is also the coordinator of the school forest program delivered to all grade levels in Superior, Wisconsin. Danz strives to make the outdoors accessible for all students and teachers, with over 2,000 student visits to the Superior School Forest annually. Danz regularly provides in-district professional development on outdoor education and has served as a regular presenter at numerous state conferences for teachers. 

She was named the Teacher of the Year for the state of Wisconsin in 2023, and selected by a panel to be the representative ofthe Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

Danz is also  an active  member of the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education, a member of the National Science Teachers Association, and has served as the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) District representative. In 1998 she was awarded the WSST Regional Award for Excellence in Science Education. 

Danz earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Education and Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, both from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Wilderness Education Association, Inc.
151 NC Highway 9, Ste B, Box 136
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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