The Governor's Task Force on Forests
Wyoming’s expansive forests are exceptional. For more reasons than one may realize, the state’s forests play an important role in our lives and future. Whether it be environmental, economic or recreational value, these areas represent something that every Wyomingite can identify with.
Hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting, skiing, and observing wildlife are just a few of the activities that take place in Wyoming’s forests. In addition to these lifestyles, the forests generously provide us with clean air and drinking water, as well as habitats for fisheries and wildlife. It is for these reasons, among many others, that NOLS has a special relationship with these wild places.
With damaging wildfires, invasive non-native species and residential development, forests within Wyoming have been facing more challenges in recent years. The Governor’s Task Force on Forests, a group of representatives from various organizations in Wyoming, came together under Governor Matt Mead to highlight the most important aspects of the state’s forests. The Task Force was created to proactively manage issues concerning forests in Wyoming by highlighting their attributes and implementing recommendations to help maintain and protect them.
Recommendations made by the Task Force were finalized and approved earlier this month and the result is worthy of recognition. The final report addresses issues pertaining to fire and other disturbance, resource management, and economic opportunity. Many of the recommendations are important to NOLS because they help to ensure that the unique outdoor classrooms in Wyoming are not compromised. By taking preemptive action against threats to forests in Wyoming, we can continue to enjoy and appreciate their supreme resources and beauty.
USNA Midshipman Shares Lessons in Leadership
Dale Lescher, midshipman 2/C at the US Naval Academy, recently shared a few of the lessons she's learned through NOLS. A two-time NOLS graduate, Dale participated in the first USNA expedition to attempt Mt. Denali, the highest point in North America, in the summer of 2014. Read about the lessons Dale gained on the USNA blog.
Educator Expedition: Cape Town Sailing
By Nick Braun, NOLS Instructor
On January 5, I kicked off the New Year with an adventure on the southern seas. With the support of the Pete Absolon Fund that supports advanced instructor training, I made my first trip to Africa. The goal was to expand my sailing horizons and to gain experience sailing in an unfamiliar place, with bigger seas and more challenging weather. And that is exactly what I got!
I participated in a week of coastal skipper training with a sailing school based in Cape Town, South Africa. This region is known for its spectacular and rugged coastline, ever-changing wind and weather conditions, and often-turbulent seas. After provisioning the boat and making a few repairs, we cast off from Saldanha Bay for our first passage southbound into Cape Town. After a 17-hour beat to wind, multiple sail changes, and navigating the dreaded (often 40+ knot) winds that come barreling off of Table Mountain early in the evening, we finally tied up at the dock just before midnight. I was in for a long week!
The course consisted of multiple passages over 60 miles long that each course participant skippered. This means from the time you cast off until you tie up at your destination, you are in charge of the boat and responsible for the safety and performance of the vessel and crew. After two of my shipmates brought us safely into harbor during their days as skipper, it was my opportunity to take the helm.
Año Nuevo in Patagonia
¡Feliz Año Nuevo from Coyhaique! The first few weeks of the new year in Patagonia have been busy!
The first courses of the semester, the Mountaineering Course AMT-01/06/15 and the Spring Semester JSP-01/10/15, have left for the field successfully after a short stay at our branch to prepare their gear and rations. The Spring Semester JSP-01/23/15 is currently staying with us to get their Wilderness First Aid certification before heading out for their mountaineering section, and our Patagonian Year courses have picked up where they left and continued their adventures.
The Patagonian Year course PY 10/8/14 started this term in Magallanes, a beautiful area in the south of Chile. All the students gathered in Torres del Paine National Park and successfully followed their Wilderness First Responder classes there. Together with a new team of instructors they are now exploring the southern ice fields.
Our Patagonian courses PY-1-10/18/14 and PY-2-10/18/14 have recently finished their ISGE (individual student group expedition) sections, from which all the students came back healthy and happy! They are now out in the field again for their cultural and kayak sections.
All of the students are doing well and are enjoying the beautiful summer weather Patagonia has been getting lately!
NZS-2 Semester under way
NOLS NZ Spring Semester NZS-2 1/22/15 were welcomed at the Aniseed Valley base last week and were outfitted for the 77 days of expeditioning ahead. Their semester began with an overnight Maori Cultural Section at the Te Awhina Marae in nearby Motueka. The group then transitioned to the Marlborough Sounds to begin their month-long Sea Kayaking section.
Their semester schedule is as follows:
NZS-2 – 01/22/15
Cultural: 23-24 Jan
1 – Sea Kayaking: 25 Jan to 23 Feb
Branch Switch: 24-25 Feb
2 – Backpacking: 25 Feb to 26 Mar
Branch Switch: 27-28 Mar
3 – Sailing: 28 Mar to 6 Apr
Branch De-issue: 7 Apr
Course ends: 8 Apr
NZS-1 Start their adventure
NOLS New Zealand Spring Semester One students all arrived safely at NOLS NZ. They spent the first day bagging rations and thoroughly checking through their equipment for their 77-day adventure.
The semester began with a cultural section at the Te Awhina Marae where they were formally welcomed on to the Marae, got introduced to Maori customs, weaved anchors out of flax, and visited culturally significant sites.
The group is now canoeing on the Clarence River toward the Pacific Ocean.
NZS-1 – 01/22/15 Schedule
Cultural: 23-24 Jan
1 – Canoe: 25 Jan to 15 Feb
Field Switch: 16 Feb
2 – Sea Kayaking: 17 Feb to 10 Mar
Branch Switch: 11-12 Mar
3 – Backpacking: 12 Mar to 6 Apr
Branch De-issue: 7 Apr
Course ends: 8 Apr
Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights
There is a growing concern for the youth of today: will this be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents? Obesity and diabetes are scary realities for many children in the United States, and there are several theories as to why these health issues have become such an epidemic. One major contributing factor is that kids are not spending enough time outdoors and being active. When children spend more time outside, they are not only physically healthier, but they also have an overall higher quality of life.
Many are beginning to realize the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and are trying to find ways to motivate young folks to get outside. WY Outside is a coalition of various Wyoming organizations, including NOLS, that care and recognize the importance of connecting youth with the outdoors. As part of the WY Outside mission to enhance the number of people participating in outdoor activities, WY Outside has developed the Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights to embody the movement for more movement. The Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights promotes the participation and enjoyment of children in the beautiful Wyoming outdoors. The bill of rights includes fundamental outside activities such as, sleeping under the stars, planting a seed or a tree, appreciating a mountain-top view and visiting a Wyoming historic or cultural site. Activities such as these capture the essence of how valuable it is to play, create, observe and make memories in the outdoors.
In order to make this bill of rights as comprehensive and successful as possible, WY Outside gathered input directly from Wyoming youth on what activities are the most essential to an outdoor experience. Aaron Bannon, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Director at NOLS, is a member of the WY Outside committee and was involved in the creation of the Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights. Bannon is also continually involved in formulating events through WY Outside with the hope of finding new ways to engage youth in outdoor activities.
“I’m hopeful that the Wyoming State legislature will embrace the Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights,” says Bannon. “It is the right message for Wyoming’s youth today. As we know at NOLS, time spent outdoors leads to a healthier, happier life.”
Life on the Borders
“Semester on the Borders students experience two very distinct and complimentary bioregions on this course: the desert Southwest and the Pacific Northwest marine environment. I can't think of another course that integrates such extremely different environments into one expedition,” said NOLS Instructor and Pacific Northwest Operations Manager John Harnetiaux.
Over the course of 86 days, two NOLS locations team up to offer an adventure like no other. The Semester on the Borders expedition offers five sections throughout the course. First, students experience some of the best rock climbing in the world in the Cochise Stronghold in Arizona or Joshua National Park and Taquitz in California. During this section, students develop an extensive amount of confidence that guides them into lead climbing when ready.
“The highlight is experiencing the daily contrasts of the desert environment. It might be 80 degrees during the day, and then drop down to below freezing later that night. Gaining 1000 ft. of elevation in the Gila, Galiuros, or Santa Teresas can change the ecosystem dramatically, with the flora and fauna being remarkably different within this relatively short gain in vertical distance,” said Harnetiaux.
After this section is complete, the course gets to experience a whole new environment in the Pacific Northwest.
“NOLS Semester on the Borders was the perfect practicing ground, and this trip seemed to cover interesting topics, and a wide range of climates while maintaining an outdoors educator travel life feel,” said recent Borders graduate Zachary Piña.
Being able to make the transition to a marine life expedition is a tremendous goal for everyone on the journey. During the two sections in the Northwest, students learn two more technical skills. Sea kayaking and keelboat sailing provide further lessons in becoming an extraordinary leader.
“The SWNW section is 3 weeks long. Each student gets more time navigating, more time trimming sail, more days as "First Mate" than any other keelboat sailing course we offer," said NOLS Instructor and Curriculum Publications Manager Ben Lester. "For a skill as complex as keelboat sailing, that extra week is super valuable for cementing learning.
While traveling through the waters of British Columbia’s coast and reaching the Strait of Georgia, students each have the opportunity to be the first mate of the boat. The first mate is given complete control over the crew and in this position is able to truly follow his or her vision and action.
The Semester on the Borders includes a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course before stepping foot in the outdoors. This section is taught by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute instructors, and upon completion students receive WFA and CPR certifications.
Piña reflected on finding his way to-and in-the Borders.
“Deciding on one place was difficult and choosing both, seemed to be the best choice, as it provided a glimpse at the life of a traveling outdoor educator, which ultimately is the direction that I am still heading towards,” he said.
NOLS Patagonia Service Project Patagonia Year- 2014
It's well known that one of our sections for the Patagonia Year courses is called Service Project, where students spend one week with a local family, developing some projects that the family could have. Throughout this experience, the students were guided and supervised by their instructors, whom helped them to improve their interaction with the families.
In the pictures shown below, we can see the experience of the Patagonia Year 10/18/14, whose students helped Sra. Lidia and Don Manuel with the construction of fences and a gate, covering a greenhouse, sowing of green beans and lettuces, painting the house, among other tasks.
During this week there was hard work and commitment, but they also shared many moments filled with laughter, such as the culinary exchange that was celebrated: an evening of apple pies and fried tortillas.
They definitely ended their first semester with style and good energy.
THANK YOU PATAGONIA YEAR STUDENTS, SEE YOU ON 2015!!
NOLS Patagonia Staff.
Honoring a Shared Legacy
Paul Petzoldt (second from left) poses for a photo at Camp Hale, Colo. Photo: Frank Chuk
As NOLS celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we take a look back at the connections forged along the way and honor our history. This year, the 10th Mountain Division Foundation generously donated scholarship funding to NOLS for active military, veterans, and their immediate family.
In 1943, the U.S. Army formed the 10th Mountain Division to fight in mountainous terrain. The young men—recruited from ski patrol, U.S. Forest Service, ranches and Eagle Scouts—trained at Camp Hale, near Leadville, Colo. at an elevation of 9,300 feet. Beyond combat skills, the men were practicing wilderness survival and rescue techniques.
The following year, and 21 years before founding NOLS, 36-year-old Paul Petzoldt joined the division as a staff sergeant to teach safety and preparation techniques. The legendary mountaineer was an obvious choice to train the men who would ultimately fight in the mountains of northern Italy during World War II.
Troops went out from Camp Hale in groups of 10 to develop their protocols and maneuvers. They often skied up to 25 miles a day and spent nights in snow huts. Given the small groups, there was a great deal of camaraderie among recruits and higher-ranking officers. It is clear that Petzoldt’s teaching was revered, respected, and absorbed.
In 1945, the 10th Mountain Division became the last U.S. Army division committed to the European Theater. They were in combat for over 110 days, took every objective, and never retreated. Of the division, 1,000 men were lost in action and many more wounded.
After the war, the division was decommissioned and its members scattered all over the country to work at ski areas, for the Forest Service, and in outdoor education.
In 1963, Petzoldt helped establish the first American Outward Bound program in Colorado. While working at Outward Bound, he recognized the need to teach people how to enjoy and conserve the outdoors. His vision was to train leaders capable of conducting wilderness programs in a safe, rewarding manner, and the result was NOLS. Ernest “Tap” Tapley, also a 10th Mountain Division member and friend of Petzoldt, was a lead instructor for NOLS for the first decade of its existence.
The heritage of the 10th Mountain is honored today by teaching youth to love the outdoors, as well as the technical skills necessary to travel in the backcountry. The scholarship support from the foundation will help the next generation of leaders learn and grow in the wilderness. It also honors all 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed in action, veterans, and the legacy they created.