2022 Outdoor economy conference:

Higher Education & The Outdoor Industry Summit

The 2022 Higher Education & the Outdoor Industry Summit, led in partnership with the Appalachian State University Department of Recreation Management and Physical Education, Western Carolina University Division of Educational Outreach, and the Brad & Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative at West Virginia University, will connect schools, colleges, and universities committed to drive economic advancement through innovative education, with practitioners and professionals in the industry to better understand their needs and play a larger role in growing the outdoor economy. 

Higher Education & the Outdoor Industry Summit Overview

Photo: Rebel USA

Connecting & Coordinating 

Higher education is at a critical juncture as learners require more from their institutions than ever before in a fast paced, rapidly-changing world. Institutions must learn from each other and find new ways to leverage their talents in workforce development, research, and direct service to meet the needs of the outdoor industry and its allied sectors, and drive the outdoor economy forward. 

This Summit is designed for educators, staff, and administrators at higher education institutions who are leading programs focused on the outdoor economy, as well as industry practitioners and professionals interested in engaging around this area of work. Higher Education is defined as two year, baccalaureate, certificate, graduate-level and post-graduate (including doctoral) programs.

The Higher Education Summit at the Outdoor Economy Conference aims to:

  • Convene educators, policymakers, practitioners and advocates to share stories, knowledge, and opportunities with Higher Education stakeholders 
  • Provide an environment for the Higher Education community to listen to industry leaders to better understand their needs to meet workforce demands
  • Identify research and support needed to enhance rural outdoor economic development
  • Strengthen the awareness, role, and value of Higher Education partnerships in the Outdoor Economy 
  • Create networks and strengthen partnerships between Higher Education and the Outdoor Industry 
  • Celebrate collective accomplishments of existing programs and initiatives


This half-day Summit will be held on Thursday, April 7th from 9:00am-12:00pm at The Cherokee Convention Center, at the tail-end of the Outdoor Economy Conference. 


Additionally, participants are invited to take part in a happy hour event just before the Conference kickoff in the Expo on Monday, April 4th.

** Please Note: You MUST be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to attend this Summit. **

Cost: FREE! (remember: Conference registration is required)

agenda (tentative) FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 7th

9:00 AM EST | Welcome & Acknowledgements

9:10 | Opening Session –  Higher Ed Summit Framing & Schedule Overview 

9:30 | Outdoor Industry Panel – What Are The Needs of the Industry & How Can Higher Ed Support?

Panelists will include Industry Leadership/Manufacturers, Access/Policy/Advocacy, Economic Development, Tourism/Outdoor Experiences

10:15 | 15 Min Break 

10:30 | Workshop – How can Higher Ed Faculty and Staff better support the Outdoor Industry through Teaching (incl. Workforce Development), Research, and Service

11:45| Next Steps and Core Takeaways

12:00 PM | Adjourn


have you registered for the outdoor economy conference?

You must be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to participate in the Higher Education & the Outdoor Industry Summit