PULLMAN – Scott VanderWey, director of 4-H Adventure Education, has been honored with the regional Association for Experiential Education Willie Unsoeld Award for his innovative facilitating and training for the past 17 years.

A leader in outdoor education, VanderWey has been instrumental in building several new statewide Adventure Education programs including the 4-H Rock Climbing program and the Building Successful Learning Communities program. He currently manages seven challenge courses in Washington State and oversees adventure-based programs in 19 of the state’s 39 counties.

“The Building Success Learning Communities model reconnects kids with learning because it’s focused on meeting individual student needs,” said VanderWey. “It’s a paradigm shift away from teachers being at the front of the class, expecting kids to absorb information, memorize, and test. In this new method teachers adapt curriculum to meet student needs and the result is kids become engaged in the process and want to learn.”

Prior to working at WSU, VanderWey taught in the Seattle Public School System for five years directing a leadership development program for emotionally and behaviorally disabled students at Franklin High School. He was a special education consultant for Seattle Public School District for two years. VanderWey earned a Master’s in special education from the University of Oregon in 2000, and a Bachelor’s in environmental and experiential education from Western Washington University in 1996.

The Willi Unsoeld Award is presented annually for work that has a profound and lasting impact in experiential education in the Northwest. The award is named in honor of Willi Unsoeld, an experiential educator who believed the highest value in education was the development of supportive relationships among people. Unsoeld became one of the first Americans to stand atop Mt. Everest and in 1979 lost his life while teaching students who to scale Mt. Rainier.

To learn more about the WSU Extension 4-H Adventure Education program, visit