Wilderness Education Association Names Ryan Carlson as Executive Director

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Cheyenne, WY, September 4, 2020 -- The Board of Directors of the Wilderness Education Association (WEA) is pleased to announce Ryan Carlson will serve as the organization’s new Executive Director. Carlson comes to the WEA with over 20 years of experience leading, instructing, and innovating in the outdoor industry. He began his position on August 1, 2020.

"The WEA has had a profound impact on outdoor instruction and leadership, and on my life personally,” said Carlson. “I am eager to serve alongside the WEA board and partners in broadening the WEA’s influence in the outdoor leadership industry. "


In 2008, Carlson was hired by Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake to design and launch Black Mountain Expeditions (BME), an adventure company delivering custom programs for independent schools, universities, and corporate teams internationally. Under Ryan’s leadership over the last 11 years, BME grew to serve hundreds of participants annually across the country. Prior to that, Carlson directed collegiate wilderness programs at Ohio Wesleyan University and Bethany College.

Carlson’s work in the industry is informed by his extensive field leadership experience. Since 2000, he has instructed activities including backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, and outdoor leadership. His experience with WEA began in 1999 on his first WEA course as a college student. Carlson has instructed numerous WEA programs in partnership with affiliate programs.

“The WEA board spent countless hours ensuring executive director candidates met the criteria necessary to boldly spearhead the organization into its next chapter. I am thrilled with the selection of Ryan Carlson,” said Will Hobbs, Ph.D., WEA board president and program coordinator and faculty in Wilderness Leadership & Experiential Education at Brevard College (NC). "We know Ryan has the entrepreneurial vision and leadership skills necessary to achieve the WEA’s collective goals."

Carlson has served on the Board of the Professional Climbing Instructors Association, and worked closely with WEA affiliate, Coalition for Christian Outreach. He has also taught as an adjunct faculty member in Montreat College’s Outdoor Education department.

Carlson holds an M.S. in Management and Leadership and B.S. in Outdoor Education from Montreat College. His certifications include the Wilderness Education Association Certified Outdoor Educator, American Mountain Guide Association Certified Rock Instructor, Professional Climbing Instructors Association Certifying Instructor, and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Master Educator.

Carlson and his wife, Annie, reside in Black Mountain, NC, and have a three-year-old son, Elias.

About the Wilderness Education Association

The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) is a member-based, volunteer-driven organization committed to the development of professional outdoor leaders and educators through providing professional standards, individual credentialing, and program accreditation. Since its inception in 1977, hundreds of students, professionals, and academic programs have been impacted by the WEA model and vision for the professionalization of outdoor leadership.


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