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
NOLS' Newest Book is a Perfect Holiday Gift: Canoeing
Effortlessly gliding through the crystal clear, smooth water, the canoes’ bow pierces the flat surface and sends ripples outward toward the shores. A single-bladed paddle silently dips into the water, propelling the watercraft further onward.
The simple, yet magnificent practicality of a canoe has been around for years. From the earliest cedar-ribbed and birch bark skinned hulls to the wood-and-canvas construction, and on to the modern-day myriad of ABS plastics, foam, and vinyl that are pressed together and known as Royalex. The materials, as well as the people using canoes, have changed drastically over time.
Nowadays canoes can be found splitting through Arctic waters bumping edges with mini icebergs, crossing the vast Pacific Ocean with help of sails and are still found on small lakes and ponds throughout the world. They are vessels for recreation, transportation, and scientific studies, among other things.
The new NOLS book, Canoeing, written by Alexander Martin and published by Stackpole Books, goes in-depth to explore and enhance the overall understanding of every aspect of canoeing—from planning an expedition and describing in detail the parts of a canoe to water science and river maneuvers and travel. Martin, a NOLS instructor since 2008, has a great understanding of a variety of canoe expeditions and was able to use past experiences and knowledge to create this all-encompassing canoeing book.
The book is the perfect gift for anyone with a passion for canoeing who would like to learn more regarding expedition canoeing, water travel and techniques, wilderness navigation, as well as advanced skills and other aspects that make up the world of canoeing. This book will serve as a great resource with colorful graphics and pictures to help demonstrate and teach skills and concepts. As everyone settles in for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Canoeing will be a great companion. While the snow falls and the winds howl, read up on everything canoe related and gain more insight and excitement with each page. Then when winter finally loses its grip on the land and the waterways flow freely, unimpeded by ice, you can set off your own canoe expedition.
For those who wish to gain even more canoe experience and skills, a great avenue is a NOLS course. There are multiple courses with a canoeing component that will allow you to build a foundation and further your canoeing knowledge and experience. NOLS has taught canoe travel for the last four decades. Significant canoe components can be found at multiple NOLS operating locations including the Yukon, the Brazilian Amazon, Australia, American Southwest and Alaska. Any of these courses or locations would be greatly beneficial to anyone wishing to enhance their outdoor skills, leadership development, environmental studies and risk management techniques.
Drumroll, please ...
It has arrived. Thirty thousand copies of the shiny new course catalog have been unloaded and piled up at NOLS Headquarters, and another 30,000 will be shipped to potential students soon.
We thought we’d introduce you.
Like last year, the NOLS course catalog has a clean, square shape and inspiring personal accounts to make the NOLS experience relatable.
With this catalog, though, we have dedicated more pages to courses and NOLS locations, specifically for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s dedicated almost entirely to the winter and spring course offerings at NOLS because we are going to publish three seasonal catalogs a year from now on. This will allow us to tailor the information in each catalog to each season to give you more helpful information about our course offerings.
You can look forward to a summer course catalog in January and a fall course catalog in April. All three catalogs will be available iPad apps shortly after their publication.
If you haven’t already requested a catalog, do so here or keep an eye out for the app, to be released soon!
Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Aug 28, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Australia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus
Taking a STEP in the Right Direction
After years spent working in the field with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Dr. Tracy Baynes made several astute observations about the students who participate in outdoor courses. They gain a tremendous amount from their time in the field. They grow by being pushed outside of their comfort zones. They have life transforming experiences. They are also, as Tracy noted, mostly wealthy and white.
Curiosity duly peaked by her findings, Tracy began to look at education statistics and noticed a huge achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. She also found that programs geared towards struggling, underprivileged youth existed but there were few— if any— programs designed to provide support to disadvantaged students who excel.
Recognizing a need, Tracy created the Student Expedition Program (STEP) in 2002 to “equip low-income, first-generation college-bound Arizona teens with the internal tools to succeed in college. Our overall goal is to help break the chain of generational poverty in the families with which we work by preparing students for success in higher education.”
“The first step to success is belief in oneself. The goal of the NOLS course is to provide students with an experience that helps them to know internally that they have what it takes to achieve whatever they want, especially recognizing that they can be a pioneer to college,” Tracy said.
Since its founding, STEP has seen all of its 112 graduates successfully complete high school, and 81 percent are in college or have graduated from college. Moreover, STEP graduates are attending some of the most well respected academic institutions in the nation including Georgetown University, Bowdoin College, Smith College, University of Notre Dame, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, University of Southern California (USC), University of Richmond, Lehigh University, and Pitzer College.
When asked about her long-term vision for STEP, Tracy said she hopes to “reach as many high-achieving, low-income students as possible and eventually turn over the leadership of the program to STEP alum.”
Expedition Denali Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Feature Film
This June, nine mountaineers will attempt to become the first all-African-American expedition to climb Denali (a.k.a. Mount McKinley) in Alaska. This team’s goals go far beyond summiting North America’s highest peak and making history. Their ultimate objective is to inspire people of all colors, young and old, to get more engaged in the great outdoors.
Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors will happen. How many people know about it—how far the team’s inspiration and awareness reaches—is another matter.
Through a Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday, Expedition Denali will raise funds to create a powerful, far-reaching documentary on the team’s journey to the top of North America’s loftiest, most iconic summit. From putting a camera team on the mountain with the expedition to producing, promoting, and distributing the resulting feature-length film, this project will increase awareness of the importance of exploring natural environments and make clear that it’s high time to invite all races, all ethnicities—all people—to inspirational outdoor playgrounds.
Given the powerful, reverberating echo of media—how it can trigger conversation and spark awareness to the furthest corners of our planet—this Kickstarter project and the resulting documentary is for anyone who has tapped into the inspirational, transformative, healing power of our natural environment. More specifically, it will create aspirational role models for African American youth and shine light on our great outdoors and the future they deserve.
Funding through the Kickstarter campaign will run for one month, ending May 10. People interested in making tax-deductible contributions to the production of the film can do so here.
Pledging to the Kickstarter campaign is incentivized by prizes that directly relate to the expedition and the film. Prizes include 30-day, fully transferable Wind River NOLS courses; downloads of the film; climbing equipment used by the athletes on the mountain; summit flags and Skype sessions with the team.