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Event Name: European Outdoor Educators (EOE) Conference
Event Dates: 25th-27th September 2019
Location: Institute of Technology, Tralee
Delegates: International: 110 | Domestic: 94
The Client & Conference
The EOE conference is the annual event of the European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning. In 2019, the event was held for the first time in Ireland, hosted by the Institute of Technology Tralee, which holds the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive PE, Sport, Recreation and Fitness.
The EOE Network is a vibrant association of outdoor education practitioners and academics from around Europe and across the globe. The theme of the 2019 three-day conference was Diversity and Inclusion in Outdoor & Experiential Learning. As a key networking event for social and youth workers, teachers, educators, students and academics, the conference was a mix of practitioner case studies, practical workshops, and academic presentations.
Reason for organisation selecting destination/venue
IT Tralee has been hosting outdoor education programmes and leading in disability inclusion in outdoor adventure for over 25 years. Hosted at the new purpose-built Kerry Sports Academy building it ensured lectures, practical and theory-based break sessions were hosted with universal access.
The proximity of high-quality outdoor venues along the Wild Atlantic Way for practical workshops was a key consideration in the awarding of the conference. Nearby locations, such as Fenit Harbour, Banna Beach, Ballyseedy Woods and the woods and parklands on campus were used throughout the event.
Issues, challenges, and triumphs
The EoE network has at its heart, connecting people with their environments which framed a “sustainability agenda” as a core ethos to the event. Conference organisers adopted vegan and vegetarian as the norm. For the gala dinner, a unique menu featuring locally sourced produce, including Atlantic seafood from Dingle was created with our hotel partner, The Meadowlands Hotel.
The conference served 1,400 teas and coffees over the duration of the 3 days and did not use any single use cups or single plastic water bottles. Delegates received a custom keep-cup on arrival, which was used for all breaks. Only Fair-Trade tea/coffee was served.
Conference organisers designed the programme to combine oral presentations and active outdoor sessions. This was crucial to the success of the conference and created a fantastic opportunity to engage with the Atlantic landscape in Kerry, which was enjoyed by delegates from 22 countries.
In the 25-year history of the organisation, this was the largest ever EoE conference, and the feedback from delegates about their time in Kerry was very positive.
The prominent inclusion of the sustainability agenda in this conference has influenced the EoE board to the point where it is guaranteed to be included centrally in all their future European conferences.
It’s wonderful to be here in Tralee, Kerry with its beautiful landscape for this unique conference, where people from all over the world can share knowledge on the growth of outdoor experiential learning.
Anders Szczepanaski from Linköping University, Sweden
LOW IMPACT EVENT | SUSTAINABILITY | LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT
Organisers worked with various stakeholders to execute this innovative conference.
A serviced conference campsite was set up on campus at IT Tralee, beside the new Kerry Sport Academy building and a significant minority of delegates chose to brave the Autumnal chill and set up camp for the duration.
As an active learning institution, students from a variety of programmes gained valuable experience through supporting and engaging with the conference.
Students from across the institute including the new BA (Hons) Event Management degree provided delegate liaison throughout and led a ‘walking bus’ from the conference hotel to the venue each morning. This limited the use of cars in keeping with the sustainability agenda of the conference.
Local bus providers were used to transport delegates to outdoor activities at local beaches & hiking trails, thus limiting the need for multiple cars/ taxis.
Books of abstracts, delegates lists etc. were all supplied electronically to delegates, thus ensuring minimal use of paper for the conference.
Special Kerry touches
Unique individual delegate name badges were made from compostable wood which was harvested and made on campus at IT Tralee.
The amazing conference banquet at Meadowlands Hotel featured fantastic locally sourced produce including Castlegregory carrots, fresh mackerel Baile na nGall, and even crab apples and elderberries from north Kerry hedgerows!
Local boutique street food and private catering company, Rustic Pantry was also engaged to provide catering during the event, with the entire menu selected showcasing local and sustainable ingredients.
Pre and post touring undertaken in the destination and wider region
While no formal tours etc. were part of the programme, many delegates chose to continue their visit into the weekend, and avail of the huge range of attractions in the region.
The sense of community built amongst delegates from all over the world was most notable, reflecting they warmth of welcome they received in County Kerry. A commitment to sustainability / low carbon principles was at the heart of the event and was a shared value amongst all.
This was the 18th and largest ever EoE conference, and its theme of diversity and inclusion are pertinent to a modern society. IT Tralee were delighted to be again leading the way in Europe in this area, through our Health and Leisure Department, UNESCO chair and CARA centre. The fact that we are focussing on sustainability in the week of global action on climate change is also important.
Tomás Aylward, conference organiser and lecturer in outdoor learning at IT Tralee