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International Conference on Outdoor Leadership 2023

  • Wednesday, February 08, 2023
  • 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, February 11, 2023
  • Bentonville, Arkansas

Wilderness Education Association to Host 34th Annual International Conference in Bentonville, AR

Black Mountain, N.C., January 09, 2023 Visit Bentonville and RUNWAY are thrilled to host The Wilderness Education Association (WEA), the member association that has contributed to the advancement of professionalism in outdoor leadership for 45 years. The 34th International Conference on Outdoor Leadership (ICOL) will take place in Bentonville, AR, on February 8-11, 2023. The theme for the 2023 conference is “Cultivating Innovation. "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, and we welcome this opportunity to host outdoor leaders from throughout the world and showcase the expansive outdoor experiences our region has to offer."

WEA Executive Director Ryan Carlson said, “The last two years tell us that the world needs recreation, wild places and connection with others more than ever!” He continued, “We need outdoor leaders who are stewards of our land, champions of equity, and competent, inspiring educators.” 

The current state of the outdoor recreation has revealed:

  • There are significant barriers of accessibility and access in recreation, adventure and wild places.

  • Our most loved and cherished wild places are under massive pressure of being "loved to death."

  • Climate change remains one of the great threats to recreation.

  • The Outdoor Economy is thriving. According to OIA State of the Outdoor Market Report, the outdoor recreation economy produced a record $682 billion in economic output, 4.5 million jobs, and 1.9% of the total U.S. GDP in 2021. Which elevates the need for workforce development in the recreation industry.

Education and equipping both leaders and users to be champion stewards of our lands, safe and sustainable outdoor practitioners, and advocates of justice, equity and accessibility in our field is critical for the advancement of outdoor professionals, practitioners and programs as we write the next chapter in this vocation. 

The WEA and this conference are committed to equip outdoor leaders to not only be aware of these pressing issues, but to have pathways for action.

The WEA is thrilled to present five culture-shaping champions in the outdoor industry, as well as 14 cutting-edge workshops that will curate this experience. 

Keynotes and Special Guests & Highlights:

“The WEA is thrilled to meet in person for our annual conference again,” said Carlson. Wilderness education is about connecting with people, and there is nothing better than the real thing!”

To learn more about the conference or to register, visit



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

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