By Tammie Stenger-Ramsey, AORE Awards Committee Chair
Each year during the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) conference, the Awards Committee recognizes those individuals and programs that have made significant contributions to the field of Outdoor Recreation and Education. For the second year in a row, a WKU Recreation and Sport Administration M.S. student has received the top student honor given by the association. On November 6, 2011, Ben Ramaeker, Challenge Course Graduate Assistant, received the Bill March Student Achievement Award, sponsored by Osprey. Along with the award, Ben received an Osprey Raptor backpack and visor.
Ben Ramaeker began his outdoor career as a challenge course intern with the Stout Adventures program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He then became a ropes course and climbing wall facilitator at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Adventure Program. He further developed his outdoor skills and became an Outdoor Specialist at La Crosse. During the summers, he served as the Assistant Chief Interpreter at Northern Tier National High Adventure Base where he managed, supervised, and trained the guide staff. His diverse experiences in recreation include two additional internships in recreational facilities at UW- Eau Claire, and recreational programming at UW-Stout. He has worked for 6 different AORE Professionals in the past 4 years. One of his most unique professional experiences was being a Zamboni driver at the Onalaska Omni Center.
Ben has a strong history of proactively seeking professional development experiences. He has attended the AORE conference every year since 2008, paying his own way on multiple occasions. Not only did he attend AORE Conferences, but he found ways to get involved, network, and truly take advantage of all the opportunities the AORE provides its student members including serving on the Environmental Stewardship Committee and the Student Development Committee. He has also attended the Wilderness Education Association conference and the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association conference.
Despite attending UW-Lacrosse, Ben inquired with Tim Mertz about working on the Challenge Course at UW-Stout as an intern during the summer. Ben’s professionalism, maturity, attention to detail, and charisma led him to quickly become a leader among the staff at Stout Adventures Challenge Course. At the end of the summer, Ben returned to UW-Lacrosse an excellent Challenge Course facilitator. In fact, Ryan Olson, the Challenge Course director at Lacrosse, mentioned that he was very happy with Ben’s skill set and confidence on the Challenge Course shortly after Ben started working there.
Upon beginning his graduate education, Ben undertook the daunting task of being a Graduate Assistant that reports directly to two different units and indirectly to a third at Western Kentucky University. Ben has responsibilities to the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport as well as the Intramural-Recreational Sports Department. Tammie Stenger-Ramsey mentioned that during his first month at the course he took great initiative in solving some of the facility problems going on at the course and was able to mitigate some of the tension between the different campus units overseeing the WKU Challenge Course. He also created a plan and started promoting the challenge course to a variety of departments in the WKU community. She also said that Ben “hit the ground running and shows no signs of letting up.”
During the AORE Awards Ceremony, AORE President, Tim Mertz finished his introduction of Ben by saying, “In reflecting on Ben’s journey over the past few years, I look back with pride. As full time Outdoor Professionals, we have all seen students come and go. Some make an impact and others do not. I believe Ben’s greatest impacts on our field are yet to come and I am excited to see what the next few years offer Ben while at WKU.”
During both the 2010 and 2011 AORE Awards Ceremonies, a WKU M.S. student in Recreation and Sport Administration has received the Bill March Student Achievement Award. In 2010, Amanda Even, the Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Center Graduate Assistant in the Intramural-Recreational Sports Department, received this award. Amanda completed her M.S. in May 2011 and is currently the Coordinator of Adventure Trips at the University of Maryland in College Park.
For more information please contact Tammie Stenger-Ramsey, firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-745-6063.
Also, WKU Relations put out a story about Ben’s award. Please visit http://wkunews.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/aore-ramaeker/ to read that story.