2020 Slate of Candidates

The following candidates have been approved by the Nominations Committee and the Board of Directors for consideration by the membership to serve in the 2020-2023 term. Ballots will be available to members from mid-April through 11:59 PM CST on Monday, May 11, 2020.

Board of Directors

Wendy Gorton 

My name is Wendy Gorton, a passionate, Portland-based WEA Member and global educator program manager who works with a variety of organizations around the world in implementing the best learning experiences possible. I have 14 years of teaching and facilitation experience in over 50 countries, and I’m the author of the best-selling and National Outdoor Book Award-winning 50 Hikes with Kids Series. I’m excited about the future of the WEA and would be honored and excited to support your efforts as a Member-at-Large Board Member.

I have been a classroom educator, outdoor educator, and currently lead volunteer hikes with the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of Columbia Gorge, and Forest Park Conservancy in Oregon and Washington - I’m passionate about leading hikes that help inspire families to get their kids outdoors and understand it even more. I have been a National Geographic Fellow, PolarTrec Teacher Researcher, NOAA Teacher at Sea, NEH Teacher Fellow, and Earthwatch Institute Fellow to bring real-world science research to the classroom through interactive and authentic curriculum. I also give talks and nature journaling and tech on the trails workshops at REI’s and bookstores across the west and help advocate for conservation and wilderness education at each stop, and I’m always searching for ways to help even more.

I’m excited about your ambitious plans for 2020 and beyond and think I have a unique skillset to help - I have experience with building certification programs at Google (I currently manage the Google Certified Innovator program of 2,200 global members) and would be excited to help provide feedback on your COL beta. I’m particularly interested and suited to help your expansion. I manage partnerships with companies and organizations in Japan, Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Spain, and understand the complexities of bringing education products to new markets, including managing translation, marketing, and creating champion communities. I am also an Advisory Board Member for the IATED, supporting innovation in education and technology through academic research conferences in Spain.

You can review my CV here

Michael Odberg

I would be honored to be considered for an “at large” seat on the Board of Directors for the WEA. I was forever grateful for my National Standards Program training and certification way back in 1999 with Mike McGowan (of Western Illinois University) as the course instructor. I have often considered re-engaging with the WEA throughout my tenure in Outdoor Education. When I landed at HoneyRock, and with the advent of the new Certified Outdoor Leader (COL) model, I eagerly took the plunge.

I believe our training took a major step forward with the COL training and I am in for the long haul. It is also an honor to host this year’s (2020) conference.I believe I can see things from both a practitioner’s and an academic’s perspective, and I will likely be presenting COL in both of those platforms at HoneyRock. This perspective could be beneficial to the WEA at this time. Although I am still wrapping up my Certified Outdoor Educator portfolio (COE), I have future plans for accreditation as well. I love the 6+1 model and I believe I can be an ambassador for it. As COL becomes more engrained in our training models, I envision launching many grads as future COE’s. I love the people and the mission and it would be an honor to have some influence in the direction of the organization if I were chosen to serve.

You can review my CV here.


Rená A. Koesler, PhD

I grew up in the flatlands of Illinois surrounded by woods, creeks and a few hills. Although the woods presented great memories of my younger years, it was the introduction of mountains and wild rivers that pulled me into the field of Outdoor and Wilderness Education. The first views of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming as a college student in the ECOEE program from Western Illinois University (WIU) launched me into an amazing career. After that, I never considered another career. I’m returning full circle to the Wilderness Education Association (WEA) and I’m excited about the value we, as Board Members, can bring to WEA and the members.

My Outdoor and Wilderness Education career started with WEA many moons ago. After graduate school, I landed a job at Longwood College (now University) in VA teaching Outdoor Education courses. Little did I know at the time, I would retire as a Professor from Longwood University after 30 years. I was passionately involved in state and national organizations. During my tenure at Longwood, I 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 at Teton Science Schools, and schlepped students around the globe (Africa, Nepal, Patagonia and Europe) engaging in adventure excursions. I am currently a Business Adventure Coach and Speaker. Lastly, I am the author of the Itty Bitty book titled: Achieving your potential: 15 empowering steps to reach each summit.

WEA represents my roots in the Outdoor field where I can bring history and foundational knowledge of WEA and provide perspective as we move forward. I am thrilled to be a part of the Board and to serve the needs and the direction of WEA.

You can view my CV here.