ISEEN Winter Institute 2020

15th Annual ISEEN Winter Institute
Just Communities: Learning and Leading Through Listening to Each Other

January 21-24, 2020
Hosted By
Catlin Gabel School
Portland, Oregon

This event has now passed. Thank you for everyone who attended.

About the Institute | Schedule at a Glance | Registration | Scholarships | Educational Service Providers
Call for Proposals | Pre & Post Institute Workshops & Activities | ISEEN 15th Anniversary Celebration
Hotel & Travel | Session Descriptions | Sponsors

Read about the "Know Before You Go" information before you leave

2020 Winter institute Guide

About the Institute

Exploring Community
What is community? Who is a part of your community? What is your school or organization’s role as a part of community? How do we build just communities? What does listening have to do with being a good community member? How do we as experiential educators bring our unique role to create student leaders who listen to each other without assuming to know the answers?

The 15th Annual ISEEN Winter Institute in Portland, Oregon will explore questions about community. Host School, Catlin Gabel, asks these questions through their work at The CENTER, which is a community-based center for youth and student leadership and civic action. The coalition behind the center includes schools such as KairosPDX, De La Salle North Catholic High School and Catlin Gabel as well as a variety of organizations including the Urban League of Portland, Black United Fund of Oregon, and the Latino Network. This year’s theme, Just Communities: Learning and Leading Through Listening to Each Other, will focus on the idea of building community through people in different communities listening to each other, with the CENTER as one example of how schools grapple with these complexities. Learning, leading, and listening will be central to our discussions and will be relevant to multiple strands and professional affinity groups of experiential educators who wish to explore what community means in their work context.

Where City and Nature Meet
Through this Institute, you’ll learn about the city of Portland. Not just the stereotypical Portlandia that spawned the craft brew and specialty coffee craze, but also the complicated Portland with a fraught racial history and neighborhood gentrification. You’ll see how the urban metropolitan area extends to the city’s tie to nature and outdoor education. We will put experiential education to practice by going to the places where you can see the work in action.

Continuing to Connect with Colleagues
We know you come to ISEEN to connect with colleagues whom you can learn from. At the heart of the Winter Institute are a variety of opportunities to connect with your colleagues in homeroom groups, model programs & practices sessions, ExEd in Action days, professional affinity group breakout sessions, through reflection and after-conference gatherings.

What You’ll Take Away from the Institute

  • Deeper understanding of how to connect the classroom and the community.
  • Refined skills of listening and self awareness in service of deep, authentic, mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Techniques to connect with students and community members.
  • Exploration at many levels of what it means to live in a just community.
  • A professional network of innovative experiential educators.

Schedule at a Glance

This is the basic outline of the Winter Institute schedule. We have reflected on your feedback and modified the schedule to make more time to connect with your colleagues and have built in some free time to explore and enjoy the city.

Note: This schedule is subject to change. All attendees will receive access to our Whova Conference App in the Fall where they will be able to view the entire schedule and their specific Ex Ed in Action and professional affinity group breakout sessions. The comprehensive schedule can be found online here and will continue to be updated with specifics in the app closer to the Institute. 

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 
9:00 am - 12:00 pm   Pre-Institute Workshops
9:30 am - 2:30 pm  4T Trail Urban Hike in Portland 
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm  Institute Check-In at Hotel 
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm  Welcome & Orientation for ISEEN First-Timers 
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm ISEEN Member Meeting with the Board
5:00 pm - 5:30 pm  Pre-Kick Off Mingle 
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm  Institute Opening & Homeroom Dinner 
Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 
7:30 am Optional Running Group or Yoga
7:30 am - 10:00 am Breakfast on your own & Homeroom Connections
10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Experiential Ed in Action - Spend the day immersed in a Catlin Gabel ExEd project exploring Portland and surroundings. Attendees can find their Ex Ed in Action placements in the Institute app. Program details can all be found on the session description page here.

4:00 pm Pre-Dinner Happy Hour
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Group Dinner
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Cocktail Hour Gathering at Wayfinding Academy (optional) - Join us for a cocktail, tour, and short info session about how we are transforming higher education by starting a new college that is mission-aligned with ISEEN. Wayfinding is a private, non-profit two-year college celebrating our 4th year of empowering students to embrace curiosity, create community, and living life on purpose. We have graduated two classes of students from our Portland campus and are expanding to add new programs this year. We’d love to show you around, share some stories with you, and introduce you to some of our students, alumni, and crew. (Attendees will Lyft/Uber/Taxi on their own from Catlin Gabel)

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020
6:30 am - 7:30 am Optional Running Group or Yoga
6:30 am - 8:30 am Breakfast on your own
8:30 am Shuttle from Hotel to Catlin Gabel Campus
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Catlin Gabel Day (includes lunch + snacks)

  • Exploration of Catlin Gabel's Model and Work with the Community
  • Professional Affinity Breakout Sessions (Outdoor Ed, Global Ed, Service Learning, Administrative Leader Panel, ExEd in the Classroom, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in ExEd, Sustainability Initiatives)
  • Model Programs & Practices Session
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm ISEEN 15th Anniversary Celebration at Cooper's Hall (optional, requires ticket purchase)
Friday, Jan 24, 2020 
6:30 am - 7:30 am Optional Running Group or Yoga
8:00 am - 10:00 am Breakfast and "Bringing it Home" Workshop
10:00 am - 11:30 am Final Theme Workshop
11:30 am - 12:30 pm Institute Closing
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Post-Institute Workshop (optional)
Forest Park Hike (optional)
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm Happy Hour at the Loyal Legion (optional)


Registration fee is inclusive of all workshops, snacks, (two) lunches and (two) dinners throughout the duration of the formal institute. Additional costs include accommodation at The Benson Hotel, optional pre & post-institute workshops and activities (information below), breakfasts, Thursday dinner and airport transfers to/from the hotel.

Registration Type Price
Priority Member Registration (Until Sept 3)
Access to ISEEN Members only during this period
Early-Bird Registration for Member & Non-Member Schools (Sept 3 - Oct 14)
Regular Registration for Member & Non-Member Schools (Oct 15 until sold out)
Educational Service Provider Registration (Until Oct 14) $1600

Registration Notes:
All schools may register up to 3 participants from their school up until October 14. This is to allow more schools to attend the Institute. Should spaces still be available after October 15, schools will be able to register unlimited additional attendees.

If you are not currently a member yet, JOIN NOW 

The ISEEN Winter Institute is sold out. However, we occasionally receive cancellations. In that case, we will offer that spot to the first person on the waitlist. Get on the waitlist now!

Refund and Cancellation Policy: 

Should you need to cancel your registration you will have two options. A colleague may be substituted at no fee or, if you cancel without substituting your place, the refund policy below will go into effect.

  • Cancellation greater than 61 days prior to the Institute: 90% refund
  • Cancellation 60-30 days prior to the conference: 50% refund
  • Cancellation under 30 days prior to the conference: 0% refund


ISEEN is excited to offer free attendance to up to two participants through the Jessie Barrie Scholarship Fund for Experiential Educators. Information and details about the scholarship can be found on our website. Applications are due Monday, September 16th. Applicants will be notified of decisions by October 1st.

Educational Service Providers

We hold limited spaces for Educational Service Providers members. The registration for ESPs is separate from our school attendees, so please read through the following information carefully.

  • The reserved spaces for ESPs are available until October 14th. We will have more information about the number of available spots when registration opens in August.
  • All ESP Attendees must be ISEEN Members prior to registering (become a member today!).
  • While ESPs gain significant value by attending the Winter Institute and the intimate networking opportunities available to them to build relationships with member schools, their primary role as an ISEEN member attendee will be that of a fellow educator. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities for greater visibility, please contact ISEEN Executive Director, Shoshanna Sumka ([email protected]).

Call for Proposals

We have two excellent opportunities for attendees to put their skills in action and to showcase their work. We invite all Institute attendees to submit an application for the Homeroom Facilitator role and/or a proposal for our Model Programs & Practices session by Friday, November 22nd.

Homeroom Facilitators
We invite ISEEN Winter Institute 2020 attendees with strong facilitation skills to apply for a volunteer homeroom facilitator role for the Institute! This is an amazing volunteer opportunity for you to tap into your skills in the wonderful, collaborative space that is the ISEEN Winter Institute. We welcome any ISEEN Winter Institute 2020 attendees to apply. Even if this is your first time at the Institute, it doesn't mean you can't serve as a facilitator. We especially encourage those with experience in social justice education to apply.

Homeroom facilitators are key to building community and reflecting on the Winter Institute theme of Just Communities: Learning and Leading Through Listening to Each Other. Homerooms are groups of 10 people from all over North America and beyond, from different schools and organizations, and typically with different discipline backgrounds that come together as a touchpoint throughout the week. Homeroom groups reflect together daily on the experience and dive deeper into the work.

Model Programs and Practices (MPP) Proposals
Each year we host a Model Programs & Practices session at the Institute for attendees to showcase the work your schools and organizations are doing. These are 20-minute sessions in 4 rounds where you'll provide a short presentation about a specific innovative experiential program or practice. Typically all presenters are given the option to take a round off to visit another session.


Pre and Post Institute Workshops & Activities

To enhance your Institute experience, we’re offering some exceptional, hands-on workshops that you can take back to your school or organization. Additionally, we’re offering pre- and post-Institute social/outdoor activities that will help you engage even more deeply with Portland and the region. Below includes the titles, facilitators, cost, and timeframes. More detailed descriptions of each workshop and activity can be found at the following link: 

Pre- and Post-Institute Details

Pre-Institute Workshops and Activities — Tues, Jan 21st

  • Risk Management for School Administrators: Tools for Assessing and Managing Social and Emotional Risk - Beginning the Climb Toward Equity
    This workshop has been cancelled
    Facilitator: Aparna Rajagopal, J.D., The Avarna Group
    Time: 9:00am-12:00pm
    Cost: $150
    Audience: This workshop is beneficial for school leaders interested in further deepening their school's risk management practices. This will focus especially on understanding how institutional bias impacts risk management and how to overcome those biases. 
  • Learning To Listen: Designing An Ethical Global Program
    Facilitator: Christen Clougherty, Executive Director of the Nobis Project
    Project Time: 9:00am-12:00pm 
    Cost: $150
    Audience: This workshop is beneficial for experienced global service program leaders and those new to global travel facilitation.
  • Both, And! Engaging Socioecological Justice in Experiential Education 
    Facilitator: Danny Frank, Assistant Professor of Outdoor Education, Northland College, Ashland, WI 
    Time: 9:00am-12:00pm 
    Cost: $150 
    Audience: This workshop will appeal broadly to exploring how social justice is more deeply involved in experiential education, especially how it intersects with outdoor education.
  • Curricular Design for Exploring Head, Heart and Hand Learning in Schools
    Facilitator: Ross Wehner, Founder of World Leadership School and Erin Hawk, Executive Director, World Leadership School
    Time: 9:00am-12:00pm
    Cost: $150
    Audience: This workshop is beneficial for influencers, thought leaders and experiential educators who are interested in exploring how to accelerate meaningful, world-connected learning in their school.
  • 4T Trail Portland Urban Hike  
    We will be asking for RSVPs in the enrollment form! 
    Times: 9:30am-2:30pm 
    Cost: No charge from ISEEN, but you will pay for lunch on your own and will need a $5 one-day transit ticket (information and details on the Pre- and Post-Institute webpage) 
    Meeting Location: The Benson Lobby (the hike will start and end at the hotel!)

Post-Conference Workshops and Activities -- Fri, Jan 24th

  • Forest Park Hike
    No registration necessary - optional post-Institute hike
    Meet at 2:30pm
    Meeting Location: Lower Macleay Park ( ~10-15 minute car ride; ~30 min bus ride on the 15 bus; ~1 hour walk from the Benson). We’ll arrange for anyone who wants to rideshare to meet in the lobby.
  • Post Institute Happy Hour
    We will be asking for RSVPs in the enrollment form!
    Time: 3:00-6:00pm
    Location: Loyal Legion Beer Hall
    Directions: ~6 minutes by car OR a 25-minute walk from The Benson

 Saturday, January 25 to Sunday, January 26: Post-Institute Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Training
This workshop has been cancelled.

  • Dates and Times: Sat, Jan 25, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm; Sun, Jan 26 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
  • Cost: $200 (+$30 for CPR)
  • Location: Oregon Episcopal School
  • Audience: Anyone wishing to complete their Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification, re-certification, and/or CPR certification.

ISEEN 15th Anniversary Celebration

Join us to celebrate 15 Years of ISEEN!
A decade-and-a-half is a big deal! ISEEN has grown from a dedicated group of outdoor educators (remember ISAN?) to a thriving international non-profit organization offering multiple programs connecting experiential educators with many focuses. While we maintain our soul at the heart of everything, our growth and existence for 15 years is due to the desire from our members to network authentically and grow within our profession.

We want to celebrate all of the work that has gone into this organization, from the many Winter Institute Attendees who have shared and brought back best practices to their schools, to the hundreds of volunteers who have helped ISEEN to get off the ground, to all the board members along the way who have guided and pushed us, and to YOU our current and future attendees, we couldn’t do our work without you and your enthusiasm.

You're Officially Invited to Celebrate ISEEN's 15th Anniversary!

Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020
Location: Cooper's Hall Winery & Taproom
404 SE 6th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost: $85 for attendee discounted ticket (non-attendees price is $100)
Includes: Two drink tickets and family-style farm-to-table dinner

You may purchase your ticket upon registering for the Institute. However, the discounted ticket price will be available through December 2019, so you’ll have a chance to purchase at a later date if you don’t purchase at the time of registration. More information will be made available soon.


Events and lodging will be at the historic Benson Hotel. Presidents and celebrities alike have stayed in this beautiful hotel in Downtown Portland with a cozy lobby and warm staff.

We’ve secured a discounted price of $135/night for a standard single/double occupancy room (comes to around $156/night with taxes and service charges) and $175/night (+ taxes and services) for a Junior Suite. This discounted rate is available through December 20, 2019, so book early!

If for some reason you’re unable to make the booking online or have questions, you can contact the hotel directly at 503-228-2000 ext. 124 or ext. 128.


As many ISEEN long-timers know, ISEEN isn’t like other conferences. It’s a fully immersive (and intense!) few days together. Because of that, we value your participation immensely and we ask that when you make your arrangements, you’re able to participate in the full Institute. We believe that participating in all of the Institute activities enhances the quality of your experience and that of your peers. If you know that you cannot manage the full schedule, maybe consider joining in a future Institute. Local Portland attendees should also consider that you will have very full days and will want to plan accordingly.

When making your travel arrangements please plan to be at the Benson in time to check in and be ready by 4:00 pm on Tues, Jan 21st (unless you are taking part in an earlier pre-conference workshop or activity) and that your departure plans do not require you to leave the hotel prior to 1:00 pm on Fri, Jan 24th.

You’ll be flying into the award-winning Portland International Airport (PDX). With its iconic “PDX Carpet” design (making the place famous and the airport foot photos a “thing”) and some high quality food, coffee and treats, you may want to grab a photo of your feet on carpet, a coffee or some delicious snacks on your way in/out. Portland Monthly even came out with this guide for the airport if you end up being there for awhile. 

Getting To/From The Airport:

  • The Benson is less than a 20 minute drive from PDX by motorized vehicle. There are ample ground transportation options available. Details about shuttles and other ground transportation can be found here. Uber/Lyft/Taxis are all available out front of the airport.
  • Light rail (aka The Max), is about a 45 minute ride on the Red Line (the stop closest to The Benson is at Oak & 1st). Travel Portland provides great details on riding the Max (check that out here).

The Benson Hotel is located at 309 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205 (phone: 503-228-2000). Directions to Catlin Gabel School can be found here. We will be providing buses between Catlin Gabel’s campus and The Benson as well as all transportation for ExEd in Action experiences. When you’re off on your own, the Max and the typical rideshare/taxi services (Uber/Lyft) are readily available around the city.

Driving in Portland isn’t terrible if you’re not driving during rush hour. Long-term parking Downtown can still be pricey, however. Because The Benson is located in such a great spot (near several light rails stops, walking distance from fun activities, and easily accessible by rideshare and taxi services), having a car for the week won’t be necessary.

However, if you do need to park for the week, valet parking at The Benson is $42/day (with unlimited in/out privileges). There are a number of garages near The Benson for self-parking options as well. One is the Union Bank garage (across from the hotel on Stark St) which connects to The Benson via underground garage (for around $25/night).

Thank You to Our Sponsors

General Sponsor
Morning Mindfulness & Yoga Sponsor
Host School
Find Your Path Evolve Tours Caitlin Gabel School
Find Your Path Image Evolve - Travel More Image Caitlin Gabel School Image


Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions about the event. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 206-209-5288.

We are excited to see old friends and meet new ones!


2020 ISEEN Winter Institute Planning Team Shoshanna Sumka (ISEEN Executive Director), George Zaninovich (Director of PLACE Program and the CENTER, Catlin Gabel), Elizabeth Doerr (ISEEN Events Manager)