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No Windpants Here

All of us at NOLS (the goofballs in costumes and the casual Friday crowd alike) wish all of you a very happy, adventurous Halloween.

NOLS-HQ-Halloween-2014 (1)

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 31, 2014

NZSF 1 & 5 Boots for Boats

New Zealand Semester One and Semester Five came through the NOLS NZ base yesterday.
Semester One swapped boats for boots
Semester Five swapped boots for boats

PA290040 Swapping Boots for Boats 

NZSF-1 9/11/14 

New Zealand Semester one returned to the base yesterday after Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds. They enjoyed relatively settled weather but also enjoyed paddling in some bigger sea conditions. Highlights from the Sea Kayak section included; learning to roll a kayak, paddling 18 miles in one day, exploring the campsites and the diverse wildlife encounted. Specific wildlife encounters included Little Blue Penguins, Eels and dolphins. There have been over 50 species of birds identified so far on the semester. The group observed a native bird species fighting back against predators when they saw a weka chasing and eating a rat.   

The semester is now heading out to Kahurangi National Park for the third and final section of their semester. They got dropped off at the Southern end of the park and are spending the next 26 days making their way North. Kahurangi National Park is a world-renowned fly fishing location.    

Students will return to the NOLS NZ base on the 25th Nov. 
If you would like to send any mail to students please send it soon to ensure it makes it down here before their semester ends.  


NZSF-5 9/25/14

New Zealand Semester five spent the night at the base switching from Hike to Sea Kayak.
The group spent the first section of their semester hiking in the Kahurangi National Park. They started their semester with some exciting off trail navigation and a good healthy dumping of snow. The group banded together to overcome weather, route and minor injuries.
The group encounted a Department of Conversation team who were dropping 1080 poision for pest control. 
The section culminated with a 4-day student led expedition. 

The group is now Sea Kayaking in the Pelorus Sound. The Pelorus Sound is the largest of the sounds which make up the Marlborough Sounds.
The group will return to the NOLS NZ base on the 18th Nov when they transition to the Canoeing section. 

Canoeing section will be from 19th Nov - 9 Dec 
Course graduation is on Dec 10th

P9250036NZSF-5 Studnets ready to head out as a team 


IMG_6651_resizedThe NOLS NZ Base up in the Aniseed Valley 




Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Oct 29, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

What Wilderness Means to Us


To me, Wilderness means we still have a place to go. A place to go immerse in pure, fresh water, a place to go sit on top of a ridge and watch the sun dip below the horizon, a place to go and enjoy the peaceful quietness of an alpine meadow on a sunny summer day. We still have a place to be us.

—Mike Casella, NOLS Marketing Representative

Join Mike at the celebration of the Wilderness Act's 50th anniversary in Albuquerque this weekend. Learn more here.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

NOLS Thanks In-Town Staff

Each year, NOLS hands out a few awards to instructors, community members, alumni, and in-town staff to recognize their hard work, dedication, and positive changes in the world. Please join us in congratulating this year's NOLS in-town awardees Alexa Callison-Burch, Debra East and Chris Agnew!

Alexa Callison-Burch: We feel blessed everyday that we get to work with Alexa

Alexa came to NOLS in the summer of 2006 when she completed her first NOLS course, an Absaroka Backpacking course. She is remembered by her instructors, as being passionate about wilderness, having excellent expedition behavior, and fulfilling a role as a mentor for other students. She was engaged with all aspects of the course. This promising performance led her instructors to encourage her to complete a fall Outdoor Educator semester as a step toward becoming an instructor.  She completed her instructor course in the spring of 2007 and began working field courses. Since that time, Alexa has worked over 60 field weeks as a hiking and sea kayaking instructor providing many students with inspiring energy and education as they embarked on their own wilderness expeditions. She is committed to providing each student with the opportunity to have life changing experiences on every course she works.

In 2011, Alexa completed a Wilderness EMT course in Lander. She then went on to complete an Instructor Training Course with NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute in November of 2012. Since that time, she has worked WFRs, WFAs, and WFRRs. She is a natural fit given both her organizational skills and teaching acumen.

Alexa’s in-town career began in the NOLS Field Staffing office in 2009, where she helped match field instructors with their courses and students. She moved over to NOLS Rocky Mountain as the evacuation coordinator in 2010. In this role, Alexa has modeled excellence by helping our instructors and the branch manage the diversity of infield challenges and evacuations that arise. She is known and admired for her calm and patient communication style that allows her to support students and instructors in the field. Alexa’s care and empathy for each individual student is felt by all. We have become a more compassionate school due to her influence.


Debra East: For her commitment to inclusion and can-do attitude

Brad_christensen-20141011-8882After years of running the underground bed and breakfast for NOLS field instructors, Debra began her official NOLS career in 2003. Over the next four years, she shared her skills and passion with such varied departments as purchasing, admissions, marketing, and WMI. In each of these roles she was valued for her upbeat, positive attitude and willingness to do whatever needed doing.

Since joining NOLS in a full-time capacity in 2007, Debra has committed her energies to excellence in customer service. A recent recipient of a Moving Hands Scholarship with American Sign Language interpretation noted, “Her clear and detailed communication, support, and encouragement makes me all the more sure that the National Outdoor Leadership School is the place to be when studying and appreciating the outdoors.” 

In 2008, Debra stepped up to become the WMI admissions supervisor. In this role, she has mentored many individuals. One former employee shared, “She allows employees the opportunity and space to navigate their positions and thrive while she stands nearby.” Another reached out to say, “I can’t thank her enough for giving me confidence as a worker and a woman in the workplace.” Debra’s employees hope one day to receive her highest compliment, a new database feature named for them.

Debra’s passionate and tireless work to help NOLS be a school that welcomes everyone has resulted in significant increases in students supported through scholarships, Veteran’s Administration funds, Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards, and most recently 529 Education Awards. Her work to develop an agreement with Western State Colorado University helped students benefit from, and NOLS secure, nearly $1 million in tuition dollars this past year. 

Debra goes above and beyond to build relationships with students she supports. After this most recent Wilderness Medicine Expedition for physicians and nurses, three students shared it was their interactions on the phone with Debra that solidified their decision to take the course—because their questions and uncertainties were so well addressed.


Chris Agnew: For his outstanding contributions to our students and mission

Brad_christensen-20141011-8841Chris took a Spring Semester in Kenya in 1998, and his instructor wrote, “Mr. Energy had a positive effect on every situation he was involved in. He plays hard and works equally hard. He assumed leadership roles and actively learned the stations on the sailing dhow. He was a role model of good expedition behavior to the rest of the expedition members.” Another instructor added, “His undefeatable positive attitude, sense of humor, navigation ability, and easy-going style all contributed to his selection as small group leader.”

In May of 2001, Chris took an Instructor Course at NOLS Rocky Mountain and followed that by working his first course—a July North Cascades Wilderness Course—as a patrol leader.

He has worked climbing, canyon, hiking, and mountaineering courses. Most of the work was accomplished at NOLS Pacific Northwest, but some at NOLS Rocky Mountain, Alaska, and Southwest.

In January of 2007, Chris transitioned into administrative work as WMI staffing manager at NOLS Headquarters. Staff who worked with him during his in-town years commented that, “he is exceptionally strong in the area of judgment and decision making. He is a critical and organized thinker who weighs the variables quickly and makes sound decisions. He is an articulate and direct communicator who quickly grasps the tenor of the conversation at hand regardless of its impromptu or challenging nature."

Since 2010, Chris has served as Pacific Northwest director with additional oversight over both NOLS India and NOLS Scandinavia. During his time in this role, NOLS has increased the number of students we educate on our Scandinavia program, moved to a more permanent location in Sweden, and created a legal entity in that country. We have also expanded our course offerings at the PNW with the addition of new courses like the Pacific Northwest Spring Quarter and the Pacific Northwest Mountaineering and Sailing and introduced adventure age programming. In India, NOLS has maneuvered through numerous, complex Indian bureaucratic systems and introduced the Himalaya Cultural Expedition. In addition to his directorship responsibilities Chris also currently serves on the leadership team for the NOLS Strategic Plan goal for Exceptional Student Experiences.


Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 15, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Instructor News, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Wilderness Medicine Institute

What Wilderness Means to Us


As a kid camping in the Wilderness on our annual father-son camping trips to Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, the grandeur of the untrammeled alpine has always been a source of inspiration, reflectiveness, and challenge for me. Since making my career as a Wilderness advocate, I have come to appreciate the Wilderness legacy that has been bestowed upon us by so many great conservation heroes: people like Olas and Mardy Murie, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir. Because of their vision, I can take my children to those same special places that my dad took me, and discover those places anew through their eyes.

—Aaron Bannon, NOLS Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Director

Join Aaron at the celebration of the Wilderness Act's 50th anniversary in Albuquerque this weekend. Learn more here.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 15, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

NZSF-1 Cultural Section

Between Mountaineering and Sea Kayaking, NZSF-1 students spent a night at the Te Awhina Marae in Motueka. They were formally welcomed onto the Marae and learned about Maori customs and culture

P1010058NZSF-1 students all healthy and happy at the gateway to the sacred waters of the Riwaka Resurgence

The group is now out Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough sounds with instructors Lloyd Stetson and Andrew Harrison. 

PA070080Seriously, we need to take extra cocoa! 


Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Oct 14, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

What Wilderness Means to Us


Dale Lescher photo

Wild places are an important source of wonder and inspiration in my life. Having and taking advantage of access to wilderness shapes my values, gives me sanctuary for recreation, makes me mindful of how my actions are a part of the world as a whole, and connect me with people in a safe, non-judgmental space. Experiencing and sharing this brings me satisfaction and joy. In this age of fast-paced communication, growth, and change in our society, I think that it is particularly important to preserve wilderness areas and encourage Americans to see, feel, touch, and play in the amazing natural resources that are our wild areas.

I have been uplifted by the overwhelming support for Expedition Denali. It warms my heart to meet people who are touched by wild places and to participate in encouraging all Americans to find themselves in nature.

Adina Scott, Expedition Denali team member and NOLS graduate

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 14, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Switching gears!

Last week was a busy one at NOLS NZ with Fall Semesters NZSF1 9/11/14 and NZSF 2 9/11/14 back at the branch for the switch between their respective semester sections. Both groups arrived with all students in good health and with smiles on their faces.

NZSF1 enjoyed relatively kind NZ spring weather on their Mountain section and witnessed some spectacularly clear Southern night skies when making their alpine starts. They were able to fit in several peak ascents and some glacial travel on the Ashburton Glacier. The group has now switched ice axes for paddles and is out exploring the Marlborough Sounds on their 22 day Sea Kayak section.

NZSF2 were challenged by strong winds for much of their Sea Kayak section, but managed a 105 nautical mile journey through the Marlborough Sounds. Their section featured encounters with penguins, gannets, dolphins, seals, eels and albino possums and had the closing highlight of a moonlit night kayak in glassy conditions between storm fronts. They've now donned packs and have headed into the Arrowsmith Range for 23 days Mountaineering.


Saying goodbye to the luggage for another 3 weeks in the field
Head over heels, jumping for joy - NZSF2 ready for the mountains

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Oct 12, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

What Wilderness Means to Us


I have spent my whole “adult” life guiding in the wilderness! The feeling that we have in this country is beyond words. Aren’t we so lucky that  those with insight were able to put aside these lands in perpetuity, where man is “only a visitor?” It just seems incredible that we have these jewels for ourselves and future generations and they will remain essentially untouched. As has often been said, “They aren’t making that any more.”

—George Hunker, longtime former NOLS instructor

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 8, 2014 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Instructor News

RM Interns Organize Community Garden Cleanup

At NOLS Rocky Mountain, each season the interns are required to develop and facilitate a community outreach project.


This past weekend, NOLS Rocky Mountain Interns John Burrows and Kathryn Martin organized a cleanup at Lander’s Pushroot Community Garden.

They selected this project to get involved with the Lander community, give back, and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.


Burrows and Martin also communicated with local businesses and received food donations for the volunteers who came out for their event.

The volunteers earned their lunch, by building garden beds, sifting dirt, pulling weeds, and helping unload manure. NOLS employees and locals worked together to improve the garden and learn about the community plot.


"We had fun getting our hands dirty and working to help benefit Pushroot Community Garden this weekend. It was great to see the community support and enthusiasm for the volunteer day, especially within local businesses that made the event a success through their donations to the cause," said Burrows. 

Permalink | Posted by Kim Freitas on Oct 6, 2014 in the following categories: In The News, Rocky Mountain

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