NOLS Instructor Talks Leave No Trace Practices and Perspectives
In a recent interview on Alaska Public Media's Outdoor Explorer program, NOLS Instructor Tre-C Dumais speaks about the ethics and practices of Leave No Trace (LNT). In addition to practical tips, listen in for a rich discussion about wild places and their role in our lives, wilderness ethics on a NOLS course, and the way we can all preserve the value wilderness for future generations. Enjoy!
Click here for current LNT courses offered through NOLS.
'An American Ascent' Screened Before a Sold-Out Audience
By Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, NOLS Diversity and Inclusion Manager and Expedition Denali Coordinator
After a year long tour in which the Expedition Denali team inspired over 8,000 young people across the nation with their story, the film documenting their historic journey was screened before an audience of over 300 in Washington D.C. in late June. Titled “An American Ascent,” Distill Productions' hourlong film narrated by well-known Yosemite National Park ranger Shelton Johnson told the story of the team’s fears and expectations before the climb, their expedition on the mountain, and how they felt when they had to turn back with the summit in sight due to an unprecedented lightning storm. Mountaineering icon Conrad Anker and author John Krakauer make guest appearances.
Watch a trailer for the film:
Adventure films can be many things. They generally are entertaining, dramatic, adrenaline-inducing, and feature “sick” beats paired with action-packed scenes of the heroes dangling from dangerous precipices. This film stands out. It was many of the things that mountaineering films are. It was funny and it was inspiring. But it was also brutally honest. It was a true story of the team’s journey with no spin and no embellishments.
One mother of a young man who is deaf wrote in response to the film: “KiJuan ... has been told many times what he ‘can’t do’ and he has defied the odds every time. I knew this film would grab him and now he is very determined to do something similar.”
Another family brought two of their neighbors’ children who had previously not been exposed to camping.
“A team member made an interesting point that you can only choose ‘what I want to do when I grow up’ from the options that you know are available,” they wrote. “Now my two friends have a new option they didn’t know about before. If nothing else they now know they ‘have permission’ to use America’s parks just like everybody else. Thank you to NOLS for your courses and efforts, they are life-changing.”
Photo Courtesy of Rosemary Saal. (L to R) Expedition Denali members Scott Briscoe, Robby ReChord, Erica Wynn, Billy Long, Stephen DeBerry, Rosemary Saal, Stephen Shobe, and Ryan Mitchell at the film screening.
The film screening was a capstone event to two years of hard work by many people, but we cannot be complacent. Our expedition to change the face of the outdoors continues. Learn more about Expedition Denali here.
Indigenous Voices Speaking Out for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
Miho Aida is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and former NOLS field instructor. Please join her on Monday June 30th for the Skagit Valley screening of “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins – Gwich’in Women Speak." The film provides a platform for Arctic indigenous Gwich’in women to speak out and inspire audiences around the country to protect their sacred land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska from oil drilling. The short documentary won the Audience Choice Award at the 2014 Earth Port Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2013 American Indian Film Festival. Miho is currently doing a west coast tour on her bicycle to share her film!
Monday, June 30th at NOLS Pacific Northwest (in dining hall)
20950 Bulson Road, Mt. Vernon, 98274
Overcoming Uncertainty: On and off the Battlefield
This article appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of The Leader
On June 14, 2012, while leading a Marine Special Operations Team on patrol in Afghanistan, Captain Derek Herrera was shot. The bullet lodged between two vertebrae in his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down.
Seven years, nearly to the day, before that fateful patrol, Herrera and 11 fellow midshipmen walked out of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. The team had completed the third-ever Naval Academy Mountaineering Expedition designed and led by NOLS Professional Training. Beyond leadership and communication skills, the midshipmen encountered something unfamiliar: uncertainty.
Until that point in his military career, Herrera had been told what to wear, where to be, and what to do when he got there. At the beginning of his course, Herrera and his coursemates found it challenging to function without a concrete plan, familiarity with the environment, or pre-set culture and rules. When pressed, his instructors stated, “We are going to go here and then make a decision on what to do next.” The midshipmen, like all NOLS students, had to forge a plan together as they went. They had to adjust to this newfound self-reliance, but Herrera realized there are many times in life, and the military especially, where patience is essential to a situation.
“At a certain point you will realize that you have the information you need to make a decision, or that you have to make that decision with the information you have currently,” explained Herrera. “This simple understanding has helped me immensely throughout my career.”
While Herrera had been afforded the opportunity to lead before, it was never with such purpose. The NOLS environment allowed him to lead a team to accomplish very challenging tasks.
“I’ve been able to draw on the things I learned during my expedition to perform better as a person and as a leader of Marines,” he stated. “I leverage these lessons often. Everything from creating culture and shared vision within teams to managing expedition behavior has proved valuable for me.”
Herrera raves that courses for midshipmen are “uniquely suited to offer a complimentary experience to the skills taught at the Naval Academy.” He believes while academic frameworks are important to learn what people think and why they may act the way they do, getting out and leading is the best way to learn leadership. He’s so passionate about this philosophy, he’s centered his business around it.
He founded the Special Operations Leadership Experience, which employs military–trained special operators to teach civilians how to lead in challenging, uncertain environments. While based on military leadership training, Herrera admits the framework is very similar to the NOLS leadership model. It focuses on three leadership truths: situational awareness, self-awareness, and communication. Like NOLS, he believes leadership can be learned and anybody can be a leader; it just takes time, practice, and experience.
What is so remarkable is that he’s doing all this as a wounded warrior. Perhaps it’s his type-A personality that won’t let him quit or his unfailing optimism. Perhaps it’s his keen ability to adapt to any situation. Or maybe it’s his commitment to serving the people and country he loves and who have given him so much. For all of these reasons and so many more, Herrera is a truly inspirational NOLS leader.
-By Larkin Flora, Development Communications Coordinator
For other articles like this, check out the current and previous editions of the NOLS Alumni Publication, The Leader
Get to Know NOLS Alaska
We got a quick Q&A session in with Janeen Hutchins, NOLS Alaska Director, during a busy Presidents Day weekend.
If you had one sentence to describe your staff, you would say:
Our staff are dedicated, passionate, fun and a tight knit group; we work hard and play hard!
How long have you been Director at NOLS Alaska?
I have had the honor to serve NOLS Alaska students and staff since April 2012.
What is your background with NOLS? Or how did it all begin for you?
When I was a junior in college I saw a presentation on NOLS and I instantly knew it was the type of adventure and education I was looking for. That summer I embarked on a Wind River Mountaineering course and I was hooked. It was a life-changing experience and influences everything I do, even today.
My course gave me the skills and resume builder I needed to start working at a teen adventure program. A few years later I was back at NOLS for my instructor course.
Since 2001 I have been lucky enough to be a part of others' life-changing experiences at NOLS both as an instructor and while supporting courses from in-town.
After serving the school at NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Southwest, NOLS Professional Training and in human resources, I landed my dream job at NOLS Alaska.
What is your favorite aspect of running courses in your part of the world?
Alaska is majestic. Whether sea kayaking amongst calving glaciers or climbing snow covered peaks, around every corner there is a breathtaking view and you feel as if you were the first person to step foot in the area. The mountains are huge and the sense of adventure is unparalleled.
What unique or particularly appealing aspect of Alaska do you think potential students should know about?
The "wow factor." I can't say it enough that Alaska is impressive. It really is! They say everything in Alaska is bigger and it's true. The mountains, the glaciers, the forests, the tundra, everywhere you go you are surrounded by immense beauty. Then add doing something rewarding like crossing a glacier or the thrill of having your groceries delivered by a bush plane, it's a true adventure!
What would you say most surprises students when they arrive or during their course in that part of the world?
The midnight sun. In the summer, the sun sets after midnight and rises well before the early bird. The days seem endless and there is no need for a headlamp—it's awesome!
Explore Alaska futher by finding the perfect course here.
Congratulations to our Olympian!
Holly Brooks (WFA ’02 and WFR ’04) completed her second race in the Olympics today, and everyone at NOLS would like to congratulate her on all she has accomplished as an athlete. In her second Olympics, the Alaskan placed 35th in the women’s 10k classic today after taking 47th in the skiathlon Saturday.
Brooks in action during the FIS Cross Country World Cup Women's 10km Mass Start on December 17, 2011 in Rogla, Slovenia. (Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Skiing is not just a race for Holly. In her free time, she admits, she likes to ski—ski tour, crust ski and backcountry ski. According to her biography on the U.S. Ski Team website, she has become a poster child for active, healthy lifestyles in her new home of Alaska.
“Luckily I live in a place where the outdoors are extremely accessible, and I love living in a community where my friends and peers are as active and adventurous as I am,” she said.
NOLS is proud to have played a role in the life of someone making such a difference while following her dreams. Congratulations, Holly!
Help Us Name the Expedition Denali Film!
In the summer of 2013, NOLS brought together the first team of African Americans to blaze a trail up America’s highest peak—Denali. Though the summit was a goal, the ultimate objective was to build a legacy by paving a way for young people of color to get outside, get active, get healthy, become passionate about America’s wild places, and chase their own Denali-sized dreams.
“There’s never been a group of black climbers coming together in an expedition to get to the summit of Denali. And that’s a big deal,” said team member Stephen DeBerry. We couldn’t agree more. That’s why this feature-length film needs the perfect name to reach and inspire a broad audience. Help us name the Expedition Denali film!
Submit your ideas here!
Expedition Denali Wins Outdoor Inspiration Award
Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors earned the Outdoor Inspiration Award for its work to inspire youth, particularly youth of color, to get outside, get active and become stewards of our wild places.
The Outdoor Inspiration Awards recognize individuals, groups and companies whose efforts are above and beyond in inspiring others to enjoy, participate in and support outdoor activities. Expedition Denali won the group award, in the company of individual award recipient Timmy O’Neill and company awardee Timbuk2.
Organized by NOLS, Expedition Denali is the first African American team to attempt to summit the tallest peak in North America—Denali. Though they had to turn back just 1,000 feet from the summit due to a lightning storm, the team made history and is inspiring a generation of youth to reach their own great heights in the outdoors.
Expedition Denali on the mountain. Hudson Henry photo
“The class of 2014 Outdoor Inspiration Award winners truly have a love for exploring the outdoors and use their passion to impact and change people’s lives,” said Kenji Haroutunian, Emerald Expo Outdoor group vice president and OR show director.
“Last fall we shared our story with about 3,000 youth, and this spring we’re on par to share that with an additional 6,000,” said Briscoe upon accepting the award. “We’re going to schools, community centers, churches, colleges, and talking about our climb and trying to inspire and get more people in the outdoors and diversify the outside.”
This tour of the nation will inspire youth of color to connect with America’s wild places and take on outdoor pursuits they never imagined possible by sharing the story of their historic attempt on North America’s tallest peak. Their story will have an even broader reach upon the completion of a film about the expedition by Distill Productions, LLC. Watch the latest teaser of the film below.
Imagine your 2014 summer
Summer is here!
Well, at least the 2014 summer NOLS course catalog is here, and that's even better, because you still have time to plan the perfect summer with NOLS.
We have boxes and boxes and boxes of the summer catalog here at NOLS Headquarters, so request one here. If you'd prefer a paperless version, we've got you covered, too. Download the iPad version of the 2014 summer catalog here.
Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jan 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Curriculum, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, Yukon
The 12 Days of NOLS
We’ve found the perfect way to get you into the holiday spirit and fight the cold snap with a hearty laugh. Watch NOLS Creative’s newest (and possibly goofiest) release, “The 12 Days of NOLS,” a NOLS variation on the classic tune, to get a taste of the NOLS experience or reminisce about your course! Written with extensive input from the peanut gallery, shot and edited in less than 12 hours, and brought to you with only mild shame, we now ask you to watch the video and sing along.
On the first day of my course Paul Petzoldt gave to me ...
Windpants with a reinforced knee
Two trekking poles
Six dudes belaying
Seven miles a' shwackin’
Eight malt balls missing
Nine quickdraws clipping
Ten backpacks bulging
Eleven toasty hot drinks
Twelve students mapping
Happy Holidays from NOLS
Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Dec 10, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Yukon