UNE students, faculty attend Maine Outdoor Economy Summit

There, they discussed internships and collaborative approaches for UNE's new major in outdoor business and innovation

UNE students Troy Fowler and Jake Tobin pose with representatives from Maine's outdoor economy at the Maine Outdoor Economy Summit in Rockland
UNE students Troy Fowler (far left) and Jake Tobin (center) pose with leaders in Maine's outdoor economy at the Maine Outdoor Economy Summit in Rockland.

The University of New England was well represented at the annual Maine Outdoor Economy Summit, held in the coastal community of Rockland from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

UNE students Troy Fowler (Sport Management, ’26) and Jake Tobin (Environmental Science, ’24) attended the conference with Aimee Vlachos, Ed.D., CPRP, assistant teaching professor in UNE’s new College of Business.

Presented by Maine Outdoor Brands and the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, the three-day event is a forum for professional development, ideation, and discussions on essential topics impacting Maine’s outdoor industry in the areas of economic development, workforce, access, and equity. UNE is a sponsor of the summit, which serves as an opportunity for those in Maine’s outdoor industries to connect, learn, and collaborate to focus on the shared vision of advancing Maine’s outdoor recreation economy.

“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to make so many connections with people in the outdoor industry,” Tobin remarked. “I had several conversations with industry leaders that helped me figure out what I want to do in the future.”

The event came at a timely moment, as UNE recently launched a new major in outdoor business and innovation amid reports that the state’s outdoor economy generated $3.3 billion in gross domestic product over the last year.

Offered through the College of Business, the Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Business and Innovation is designed to prepare students for dynamic careers in a sector that is pivotal to Maine’s economy through a strong focus on sustainable community development, environmental policy, entrepreneurship, and small business management.

UNE has partnered on the major with Maine Outdoor Brands and the state Office of Outdoor Recreation, who will serve advisory roles in curriculum development as well as provide paid internships to all students who complete the four-year degree program.

“The summit was an amazing opportunity to connect with outdoor businesses across the state,” Vlachos said. “We spoke about new internships, projects, and collaborations that we can incorporate into the newly launched outdoor business and innovation major.”