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Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability


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.”

Wyoutside-logo-header

 

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Jan 23, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Facility Efficiency Improvements at NOLS Pacific Northwest

When it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts. Even a toilet. When Karly Copeland, NOLS Sustainability Coordinator, made a call to NOLS Pacific Northwest to do an annual facility efficiency audit, toilets came up a lot. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into sustainably updating a facility. Everything from appliances, light bulbs, and pipes, to weather stripping, sink fixtures and toilets must be taken into account. Some fixes are simple while others require much more attention, planning and funding.

The NOLS facility efficiency initiative is a crucial component of meeting the school-wide goal to reduce carbon emissions by thirty percent by the year 2020. By looking closely at each NOLS facility, the initiative is designed to bring seemingly minor details to the forefront, and ultimately make a big difference. We’ve all heard that we can minimize our carbon footprint by riding our bikes, taking shorter showers, or changing a light bulb. NOLS recognizes the importance of making these suggestions a reality.

 The NOLS Pacific Northwest audit is a great example of the attention to detail and important questions that must be asked in order to optimize sustainability within a facility. Are the pipes properly insulated? Are the appliances energy efficient? Are the light bulbs LED or fluorescent, and do they have motion sensors? Are the toilets low-flow? Many of these details and more were discussed in the conversation between Karly and John Harnetiaux, the Operations Manager of NOLS Pacific Northwest, and Mitch Harter, Facilities and Fleet Manager of NOLS Pacific Northwest. The audit consisted of reviewing data pertaining specifically to the Pacific Northwest facility, a thirty acre-property with eleven different buildings. Various efficiency improvements were discussed such as the heaters in the staff housing units, water pipes in the food services building attic, the weather-stripping on the doors, and of course, the toilets. All of these improvements and more are recorded, labeled and prioritized in the audit.

“The Pacific Northwest campus was built in the early 90's, and was originally designed with various energy efficiencies in mind. Within the last five years, as the buildings on the property have begun to age into their twenties, we've been attempting to do more retrofitting, as well as some larger scale sustainable construction projects,” commented John Harnetiaux.

As multiple NOLS locations, such as NOLS Pacific Northwest, continue to make improvements on the energy efficiency of their facilities, the goal of drastically reducing carbon emissions by 2020 will be that much more attainable.

Solar Panels at NOLS Pacific Northwest
 

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Jan 16, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Pacific Northwest

Creating a Climate of Thanks

In the world of environmental sustainability, too often the amount of work to do overshadows a great many accomplishments that should be celebrated. This Thanksgiving, NOLS was happy to take a moment and offer #climatethanks. In case you missed us on twitter, here are three pieces of gratitude we’d like to offer up for those who work to preserve our wilderness classrooms: 

1)    NOLS Grads Above all else, NOLS’ greatest contribution to the environment is our graduates. They are skilled leaders who understand the beauty and fragility of our planet. Thank you to the countless NOLS alumni who have gone out and changed the world!

NOLS Leaders on Sustainability and Conservation from NOLS on Vimeo.

2)    NOLS Faculty and Staff support the education and experiences that inspire students to become environmental leaders. Thank you to all NOLS employees who work incredibly hard to further a mission they believe in and are agents for positive change in the world.   

3)    Generous funding for our alternative energy programs Rocky Mountain Power, The North Face, and many other organizations and individuals support our sustainability initiatives. Thank you for making it possible for our students to benefit and learn from the clean energy generated onsite at nine NOLS campuses around the world.

Obviously this is just a small snapshot of what we are thankful for, but it’s a start. Many thanks to everyone for supporting NOLS, we couldn’t do it without you!

 

Permalink | Posted by Karly Copeland on Dec 3, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

NOLS Southwest Celebrates Wilderness

What better way to celebrate the Wilderness Act than to get out and enjoy a piece of public lands?

NOLS Southwest teamed up with Arizona to do just that in November. Dozens of organizations welcomed thousands of individuals to the Wild for Wilderness Festival at the Sabino Canyon Recreational Area. NOLS Southwest hosted one of the activity stations placed along a two-mile trail to educate. NOLS staff taught kids how to read and draw topographic maps from play dough models. Adults learned about map and compass and GPS navigation.

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Photo by Jehan Osanyin

Gila District Manager Tim Shannon thanked NOLS for its role in protecting and enhancing Wilderness recourses: “The future is bright … the future is our next generation of wilderness supporters," he said. "Most importantly, it is the children … and the grandchildren that are learning about wilderness from you."

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Dec 2, 2014 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Southwest

What Wilderness Means to Us

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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

What Wilderness Means to Us

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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

What Wilderness Means to Us

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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

What Wilderness Means to Us

Tracy_baynes_ak_155

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

Fremont the Backpack

By Kaybe Loughran

Fremont the backpack sat in a heap
Of bags, tents, and jackets, three feet deep
He waited there for a future cold weather snap
When Nate finally would have time to repair his strap

Fremont remembered his first trip out
He hadn’t an idea what the Winds were about
Back then he was Deuter pack 2602
And his nylon was shiny, factory new!

Johnny the student carried him over ridges and creeks
Together they scrambled over so many peaks
One day they hiked and hiked what felt like nonstop
Until they found themselves on Fremont peak, right at the top!

Johnny was so happy that he marked the event
By naming his trusty pack after their first mountain ascent.
Over the next few weeks, Fremont and Johnny traveled together
The land was so rugged and so was the weather

Fremont became less shiny and acquired more wear
His nylon was breaking and he needed repair
Johnny’s instructor taught them packs could be sewn
So that buying a new one could be postponed

He showed them his gaiters and other gear
Which he would probably keep using for many a year
“Take care of your things and repair them here!
You’ll eliminate work that NOLS staff must endure.”

Fremont came back into town with a little red patch,
A mark that adventure never comes without a scratch.
He hung out, rested, and became ready to spring
For the excitement the next course could bring 

A few days later Fremont met Carrie Jean,
A young energetic girl of sixteen.
The first night at camp Carrie forgot
To put her snacks in the bear fence, and guess what they brought?

A little brown mouse who nibbled right through
Fremont’s fabric and into her shoe
“Eek!” she said in the light of the morning,
“My gulch crunch is gone and the ants are swarming!!”

Fremont was dragged across granite and mud
His zipper was dirty and could not be tugged
"Help" he cried, though only the tent could hear,
"Someone please teach this girl about gear!"

The tent sighed and let Fremont under his fly,
He could do little but at least he could keep Fremont dry.
So after three long weeks Fremont returned to the base
Bashed, bruised, and torn all over the place.

Kevin gave him one long look and shook his head
“Not back to the gear room, but the back pile instead!”
So that’s where Fremont is and that’s where he’ll stay
Until the base has a cold, slow, quiet day.

 

The staff at NOLS works hard to keep their gear in working order. Students are sent into the field with good quality stuff. Due to the nature of NOLS courses, gear never stays pristine, but NOLS instructors use these opportunities to teach students how to repair their own things. According to Kevin McGowan, who runs the gear room, whatever can be repaired in town can also be repaired in the field. Students are equipped with stove and tent repair kits as well as patch kits and a speedy stitcher for all sorts of gear. They learn repair techniques and important lessons about taking good care of their belongings. Students are often issued used gear with character and history. Puffy coats may be marked with small patches, but they are just as warm as any other jacket.

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Amit puts a patch on a puffy coat that just came off of a course.

When gear comes back that needs extra special attention, like Fremont the backpack, it is usually out of commission during the busy summer months until the staff have time to work on it. The branch currently has a pile of gear to sort through, which will probably have to wait until winter. Some of this pile will end up getting sold at garage sales if it is beyond repair for extensive courses but still of use to someone else.

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The pile of gear in need of repair grows steadily during the summer months.

The lifespan of a backpack is usually about two years, and a lead rope will last a few courses before it must become a top rope. Other gear has different expected lifespans, but gear ends up being approximately 18 percent of NOLS’ budget, a large part when you consider everything else that a NOLS course covers (travel, food, wages, etc.). The sustainability office is working on ways to minimize the amount of new gear NOLS purchases and maximize the amount that NOLS can repair. In general, sustainability is an integral part of NOLS’ mission, and as much as NOLS students and staff can reuse and repair, they will! NOLS instructors hope students come off courses with new drive to take care of their gear and purchase less.

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Issue room staff Augustine works on sewing up a pair of pants.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jul 31, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Rocky Mountain

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Sustainable Roads Meetings!

Your voice was heard by Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest! Hundreds told the National Forest what forest roads matter most to them and they listened. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is hosting a series of public results forms to share the data collected from the sustainable roads public outreach meetings held last summer.  Participants helped identify forest roads that mattered to them.  The Forest is in the process of creating a sustainable road strategy to maintain the forest road system within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection.

As a reminder, please come see the results from the Sustainable Roads outreach meetings: 

JULY 24, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

Issaquah Main Library

10 West Sunset Way 

Issaquah, 98027

 

JULY 29, 2:00 -4:30 p.m.

The Mountaineers

7700 Sand Point Way NE

Seattle, WA 98115

 

JULY 31, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

Darrington Community Center

570 Sauk Avenue

Darrington, WA 98241

 

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Photo from http://mbssustainableroads.com/

Permalink | Posted by Tasha Block on Jul 23, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Pacific Northwest

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