The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) is a member-based and volunteer-driven association committed to the development of outdoor leaders and educators. Dr. Frank Lupton, Paul Petzoldt and others founded the WEA in 1977 following their collaboration on an experimental wilderness-based course with Western Illinois University students through the Wind River Range and the Targhee National Forest of Wyoming. This course would become the inspiration for and provide the foundational framework for the educational methodology used by WEA instructors and member organizations.
Since its inception, hundreds of students and professionals as well as academic programs have been shaped by the WEA and Petzoldt’s vision for the professionalization of outdoor leadership. Today the WEA continues to maintain a foundational foothold in America’s Outdoor Education and Leadership industry by offering a robust curriculum as well as a certification for outdoor educators and courses for outdoor leaders. The WEA uses a digital assessment platform for organizational accreditation as well as an electronic registry for Outdoor Leaders and Educators.
The mission of the Wilderness Education Association is to promote and support the professionalism of outdoor education and leadership by establishing standards through curriculum design, implementation, advocacy, and research-driven initiatives.