Outdoor Educator (OE)


Outdoor Educators are professional instructors or guides who makes their living in the outdoor industry. They might work at a university, a guiding company, a wilderness therapy camp, or be a program director at a summer camp. They may also be a high level recreational leader, such as a scout troop master or church group leader who regularly takes out novices to whom they want to impart a love of the wilderness and a sense of personal responsibility to the outdoors. Outdoor Educators do the following:

  • Outdoor Educators are able to teach WEA Outdoor Leader certificate courses, either through an Affiliate host organization or by themselves, provided they meet certain minimum requirements (such as holding a liability insurance policy and having the necessary permits or permission to operate where they propose to run courses).
  • Outdoor Educators are able to create necessary documentation to run multi-day or multi-week expeditions, such as proper rations plans, route plans, Emergency Action Plans, and so forth. 
  • Outdoor Educators can provide useful feedback to students, both on an ongoing basis and, formally, after a program is completed.  They are able to take curriculum, lesson plans, and assessment/evaluation tools written by others, and execute those tools/plans. 
  • Outdoor Educators are willing to take responsibility for risk management in the field for myself and my students.
  • Outdoor Educators are teachers of the outdoors.

What does the training program look like?

  • Outdoor Educators have a good deal of outdoor experience, and likely have worked professionally for a year or two, and have worked in a program that provided structured training/assessment/evaluation.
  • Further, Outdoor Educators have created an IROEL portfolio that demonstrates competence in the outdoors and competence as a teacher using pre-built curriculum, lessons, and assessment/evaluation tools. They have shown competency in all WEA 8.x, 9.x, and, where relevant, 11.x standards.
  • Outdoor Educators have been evaluated by a Certifying Examiner as a competent executer of program structure and tools.

What can I do with this certification when I’m done?

  • Outdoor Educators can teach the WEA Outdoor Leader curriculum, both as an individual and as an employee/contractor of an Affiliate or Accredited Organization. Outdoor Educators can also lead expeditions and teach based on curriculum created by the company or program they work for.
  • Outdoor Educators are outdoor professionals.

How am I assessed?

  • Outdoor Educators create an Outdoor Educator portfolio within the IROEL. This includes providing samples of skills as a leader in the outdoors and as an instructor in video, written, and other formats as I or my Certifying Examiner sees fit and necessary. 
  • This portfolio is turned over to a group of my peers, who will judge me based on a specific rubric, as outlined in the Outdoor Educator Certification Manual. Based on feedback, Outdoor Educators will update and modify their portfolio or gain skills necessary to meet the standards of the WEA 8.x, 9.x, and (perhaps) 11.x standards.

How do I maintain certification?

  • Outdoor Educators must maintain professional membership dues with the WEA, maintain an active IROEL account, and work toward gaining the Continuing Education Credits necessary to maintain certification. 

What’s the next step in my professional development?

  • Outdoor Educators will continue to develop as an instructor, lead research based education and outdoor initiatives, and work within the community to develop industry best practices.

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