Certified outdoor educator
Use these links to navigate through this page and to review the information regarding the process to pursue recognition as a Certified Outdoor Educator.
The Certified Outdoor Educator (COE) credential recognizes the professional qualifications of individuals who work in programs that provide structured training and assessment/evaluation in outdoor leadership development. These professionals are committed to excellence and have proven their ability to deliver quality outdoor leadership experiences. In addition, COEs have also demonstrated proficiency in educating, evaluating, and assessing outdoor leadership training and development experiences based on the 6+1 standards. The COE is critical to the training and recognition of WEA Certified Outdoor Leaders (COLs).
The WEA 6+1 is a focused, standard-based curriculum that covers Outdoor Living, Planning and Logistics, Education, Risk Management, Environmental Integration, and Leadership plus Judgment and Decision-making. All of the training and certification programs of the WEA are grounded in the 6+1.
Prospective outdoor educators must submit an online portfolio through Foliotek for assessment. This is an entry into the International Registry of Outdoor Educators and Leaders (IROEL). The portfolio must include evidence of skills as a leader in the outdoors through a variety of artifacts. Outdoor Educators seeking a credential through an accredited organization will be assessed on a specific rubric outline and evaluated by a WEA Certifying Examiner. Outdoor Educators seeking a credential through the Professional Path will be assessed by members of the Commission on Outdoor Education and Leadership (COEL). Portfolios must provide clear evidence of competency in all of the 6+1 components as well as assessment and evaluation.
Certified Outdoor Educators continue to expand their knowledge as an instructor, lead research-based education and outdoor initiatives and participate in the community as outdoor subject matter experts.
There are two pathways to approach becoming a Certified Outdoor Educator:
1. I am enrolled in a WEA-accredited program. Your organization will determine the work and artifacts that you must complete in order to earn the certification. You can find a list of Accredited programs here.
2. I am not in a WEA-accredited program, but I am currently working or seeking to work in a professional role in an education and/or recreation program based in the outdoors. The table below provides a Quick Glance at COE criteria. Click on the following documents for full details on how to achieve certification through this option:
Regardless of the path chosen, the COE must maintain membership with the WEA at the highest level and maintain medical training appropriate for the specific context and setting.
Program directors, university faculty, full-time staff, owner/operators of outdoor programs
Demonstrate emerging mastery of student learning outcomes 8.0-9.6; Competency in 10.0 Assessment and Evaluation
Minimum 100 nights of field experience in leadership, training, or as Leader-in-Training in an outdoor program
Structure Accredited Program or Professional Path
Learning Outcomes 8.0-10.0 Assessment and Evaluation
The Certified Outdoor Educator credential is not valid without medical training appropriate for the specific context and setting.
Artifact upload required
Comprehensive evaluation of 8.0-10.0 Assessment and Evaluation within the 6+1 standards. Peer Review of Portfolio.
Certified Outdoor Educator credential
Scope of Practice
Conduct OLTC and COL courses
Maintenance (includes renewal and/or expiration)
Individuals interested in pursuing the Professional Path to become a COE should contact the WEA National Office for enrollment questions and complete the Certified Outdoor Educator Enrollment Application. There is a $30 enrollment fee that initiates the first year of the required foliotek portfolio account. Once a COE candidate’s portfolio is ready for review, s/he will have a portfolio review team assigned through the Commission on Outdoor Education and Leadership (COEL). The review team will either approve the portfolio, ask for revisions, or deny approval. Once the review team approves the portfolio for certification, the COE candidate will pay the certification fee to finalize the certification process. A digital certificate will be given to verify certification.
2nd Nature TREC will host a WEA COE clinic at the Mountain View Lodge of the Black Mountain Children's Home in Black Mountain, NC as a pre-conference event for the WEA's International Conference on Outdoor Leadership. (Conference registration NOT required). Space is limited to the first 8 registrants. Registration price increases ($50) after December 6, 2021. The clinic is 2.5 days beginning at 8:30am on February 7, 2022 and concluding by 1pm on February 9, 2022. Registration includes 2 nights lodging, three meals per day beginning February 7 and ending with lunch on February 9; WEA clinic fee, instruction and the clinic manual. Attendees can select an additional, February 6 lodging for $25 to arrive the night before the clinic.
Dates: February 7-9, 2022
Cost: $600 (Price increase after Dec 6, 2021)
Location: Black Mountain, NC
Duration: 20-hour clinic