The EOE2019 Conference, hosted by IT Tralee between the 24th and 27th of September focused on the topics of diversity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and education. Sustainability and low carbon footprint, were also very much to the fore given this week’s proceedings in the UN at the Climate Action Summit 2019. Over 200 academics from as far away as Singapore, Australia and Canada travelled to Tralee for the event.
For the duration of the conference, a serviced campsite was in place at the IT Tralee North Campus and many of the attendees braved the inclement autumn weather to stay on site.
Professor Anders Szczepanaski from Linköping University, Sweden said; “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”.
As part of the sustainable theme of the conference, delegates used public transport upon arrival in Ireland to make their way to Tralee. The food and drink offerings for delegates showcased seasonal local Kerry produce. Vegan and vegetarian dishes were central to the majority of the catering and local beef suppliers were used for the conference barbecue at Tralee Bay Sailing Club in Fenit and seafood from Dingle for the conference banquet at the Meadowlands Hotel.
Dan Browne, Culinary Arts lecturer at the college explained, “Our culinary students embraced the challenge of catering for guests who were consciously choosing a vegan or vegetarian menu, as part of their commitment to a low carbon footprint.” Fairtrade coffee was available for delegates throughout their four days in Tralee and no single use plastics were used by any of the participants. Delegates were given a recyclable keep-cup and reusable drinks bottle as part of their registration packs. There was minimal use of paper in the event organisation and registration. Delegates also received innovative compostable name tags, made from wood sourced locally including from the Institute grounds, rather than the usual plastic name tags.
IT Tralee students on the BA in Event Management and the BA in Outdoor Learning programmes provided delegate liaison and conference support throughout the four days. This work experience is a key part of their programmes and allows students to learn in a practical way to further the understanding of theory learned in a classroom.
Speaking about the ethos of the event, Mr. Tomás Aylward, Conference Organiser and Lecturer in outdoor learning at IT Tralee commented, “This is the 18th and largest ever EOE conference, and its theme of diversity and inclusion are pertinent to a modern society. IT Tralee are delighted to be 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”.
Michael Hall, Head of Department of Health and Leisure Studies at the Institiute stated: “The IT Tralee were proud to host the European Outdoors Educators 2019 Conference at its brand new €19m Kerry Sports Academy. By holding sustainable events in this state of the art facility, we can increase our contribution to the local economy as well as helping to do our part for climate change. The ability to host events of this nature in Tralee will help to make the town a more attractive place to live, work and study.”