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Team Wyo, NOLS, and Cowboy Tough

The starting gun for the Cowboy Tough Race, a three day adventure race beginning in Cheyenne, Wyo. and finishing in Casper, Wyo., will go off next Thursday, July 18. This race will highlight some of Wyoming's wildest and most beautiful locations. NOLS is helping in the organization, as well as comprising Team Wyo!

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Join NOLS in helping make this race possible by volunteering next week. Learn more and sign up here.

Follow Team Wyo's training so far on their blog. We're so proud that both of these athletes are NOLS grads and current employees, and we can't wait to cheer Adam and Katie on next week.

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Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jul 9, 2013 in the following categories: Alumni, Instructor News

NOLS gets Cowboy Tough

A lot of people at NOLS are planning for the first Cowboy Tough adventure race in Wyoming. NOLS is sponsoring and designing the ropes section and a trekking and orienteering section of the race. But there are two more people at NOLS gearing up for the race: Team Wyo competitors Katie Everson and Adam Swisher.

The two-person team brings the experience of many NOLS courses, some as students and some as an instructor, the in-town roles of an admissions officer and curriculum publications manager, and a variety of endurance racing.

Everson,a marathon and half marathon runner and NOLS Pacific Northwest Semester graduate jumped at the chance to compete in the first Cowboy Tough race shortly after moving to  378031_10151030918275512_1306652249_nLander, Wyo. for a job at NOLS Headquarters. Her teammate, Adam, is an instructor with a few adventure races under his belt. Together, they’re training for a top finish, though they recognize just finishing will be a challenge.


This weekend, they will spend a day biking and hiking outside of Lander. They have a few days planned this summer for multi-day training, preparing themselves for pushing through the point of fatigue together.

After building their endurance through the spring, Swisher and Everson will turn their focus to the more technical aspects of the race like navigation and taking on the relatively new skills to both of them: whitewater kickboarding and canoeing.

We’ll keep you updated on their training and their goals as July 18 approaches. In the meantime, wish Team Wyo speed and perseverence as they prepare!



Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on May 15, 2013 in the following categories: Alumni, Instructor News, Pacific Northwest

Congratulations, Liza!

 NOLS’ own Liza Howard is yet again making impressive impacts on the world. The NOLS instructor, ultra marathoner and coach, and mother has been named to the Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) Advisory Board. The nonprofit organization’s mission is “to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”

Howard joins this mission with such advisory board members as retired General Frank Kearny and the co-host of “the View” Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The “proud Army brat,” according to her Team RWB bio, will provide guidance, resources, and oversight to drive Team RWB’s mission nationwide. She will bring her dedication, passion, and expertise in 100-mile and 50-mile races and her experience teaching leadership skills to NOLS students to the table to benefit America’s veterans.

Congratulations, Liza!

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Feb 18, 2013 in the following categories: In The News, Instructor News

Chapul Bars: Feed the Revolution


Has anyone ever double-dog-dared you to eat a slimy, creepy crawly, six-legged creature as they dangled it in front of your face? Did you swallow hard, tug on your shirt collar a bit, and start to perspire slightly? Did you accept the challenge, or turn in the other direction and bolt for the hills? Though consuming insects may seem repulsive to some, let it be known the multiple advantages might soon persuade the remaining 20 percent of the world population who don’t currently ingest them as part of their diet, to convert.

 There are 6 million species of insects in the world and a thousand of them are currently part of a regular diet somewhere. There are only a few hundred species of mammals. Ten pounds of feed will produce one pound of cattle, but it can produce eight pounds of crickets. Insects also emit far fewer greenhouse gases and are more nutritional. Based on these facts, Pat Crowley (NOLS instructor and founder of Chapul energy bars) believes the United States’ psychology of eating insects can be changed.

 For a number of years water has been Crowley’s passion. After getting a chance to see water supply problems up close in person on a post-college trip to South America, he returned to the U.S to complete a graduate degree in hydrology. As he learned more and more about the unsustainability of water consumption in the United States, the quicker the picture came into focus. In the Southwest, 30 million people from San Diego to Phoenix rely on the Colorado River as their water source. The river, which once flowed all the way to the sea, no longer does. With 92 percent of the world’s fresh water supply used in the agriculture sector, Crowley started exploring the use of insect protein as a way to cut back. The first insect Crowley ever ate came on a NOLS raft/kayak course he was instructing on the Green River. A student had caught a cricket and dared anyone in the group to eat it. Crowley seized the opportunity and the cricket simultaneously and munched and chomped it into tiny pieces and swallowed. He then explained why he had done so. By the end of the course, half of the students had tried crickets.


 Chapul got underway in the summer of 2011 after Crowley watched Marcel Dicke’s TED Talk on the benefits of an insect diet. Chapul Bars are delicious; an all- natural energy bar with protein from Chapul’s innovative cricket flour produced using techniques inspired by the Aztecs. The crickets are raised in a commercial farm and are fed vegetable by-product received from local grocery stores and farms. Crickets, and many other insects can be raised vertically, which require far fewer land resources, and can be raised in an urban setting, thus reducing the carbon footprint of food transportation. The crickets are dried out and then milled down to flour. The procedure is based off of Aztec and ancient Puebloan techniques that used cricket and grasshopper flour to make protein-dense breads. The name "Chapul" is a Nahuatl (Aztec) word for cricket/grasshopper.

The future of our world lies heavily on resource management. There inevitably will come a day where alternative sources will need to be addressed and implemented. We may soon be ordering a cockroach and locust pizza (perhaps with lots of extra cheese at first), termite stew, or a beetle burger with a side of worms. With the multiple benefits and advantages, the real question is “Why not eat insects?”

Permalink | Posted by Brent Wallen on Feb 12, 2013 in the following categories: Instructor News

New Technology in the Field at Rocky Mountain

As part of a pilot program, NOLS sent eight eReaders into the field this fall with semester courses.  Each eReader weighs less than a paperback and carries a big library, including most NOLS books.  

Photo provided by James King Nooks being loaded with eBooks.

James King presented at NOLS headquarters Tuesday, Oct. 9, explaining the project.   

An eReader is a device that can read eBook files.  An example is the Barnes and Noble Nook or the Amazon Kindle.  Most eReaders can carry about 2GB while each eBook is about 6MB.  That means one of these light eReaders can contain more than 300 books at a fraction of the weight!  

James said his eReader holds 23 pounds of books but only weighs 7 ounces.   Several NOLS books are already available, including student texts and some instructor course books.  

The eReader that NOLS decided to test is the Barnes and Noble Nook.  It weighs 7.3 ounces, has a six-inch e-ink screen, can store 2 GB, has wifi and USB connectivity, and has a battery life of two months if used only 30 minutes a day.  

The pilot semesters were two fall Semester in the Rockies courses.  They tested the usage and durability in the field.  Only one broke in 192 user days.  The batteries performed well and lasted the entire course or charged with solar chargers.  They were a little sluggish in the cold, but once warmed up in a sleeping bag worked great. Instructors and students, alike, were receptive to the idea of eReaders on courses, and many discussions and much data analysis will follow to determine the next phase of their incorporation.

Permalink | Posted by Nate Robbins on Oct 11, 2012 in the following categories: In The News, Instructor News, Rocky Mountain

Notes from the Field: Summitting or not, the work doesn’t stop

The last time we heard from Phil Henderson on this blog, he had returned to Everest base camp with a bad chest cold. He was unable to heal quickly due to the elevation, so he descended and took over the team’s communication.

There was about 10 days before our next rotation on the mountain, which would be our summit push. I didn’t have time to get better. I ended up taking some antibiotics in base camp and it still was about 12 days before I was back to 95 percent.

It’s easy to go, ‘Oh, I’m sick, I’m just getting out of here,’ but the rest of the team still needed support. We needed to get things out to sponsors, things out to National Geographic, and a lot of logistical things. That’s what I do here in my job at NOLS every day. It was a natural fit, and I wanted to continue to support the team that way.

It was awesome. It was great. It was a success. There had been so much up and down prior to that; every member of the expedition had gotten sick at some point, or sprained an ankle … Things weren’t looking good at one point. The weather wasn’t cooperating.

When it was all said and done, five of eight climbers ended up summitting, and that was pretty successful. For me personally, it was a disappointment, but I have no regrets in terms of not going on that summit push.

Once everybody came down, we had to break down base camp, as well. There were the logistics of getting out, which I was doing while the team was making the summit push. With there being so few summit windows, everyone on the mountain went at the same time and left base camp at the same time. All the climbers wanted to fly out at the same time. But planes were grounded because of the weather.

Phil managed flights, luggage, and expensive cameras and gear over the next nine days before being the last to leave Kathmandu and return home. Over those nine days, he visited the Everest Days festival in Namche, witnessed the first annual Outdoor Festival in Kathmandu, and interacted with “the broader community, in terms of outdoor industry, in that part of the world.”

“It was a good ending to a good expedition,” he concluded.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Aug 29, 2012 in the following categories: In The News, Instructor News, Leadership, Rocky Mountain

Golden Apple Scholarship winner taking NOLS course in 2013

Angela Rosenberg, a math teacher at Edgewood HS, of Edgewood, Md. received the first annual Golden Apple scholarship from Freedom Federal Credit Union. Rosenberg was always interested in the outdoors and became more interested when her friends took her rock climbing and hiking.  She enjoys rock climbing best, and wants to continue to improve.

Golden Apple Scholarship applicants must document how they use the $1,000 towards furthering their own continuing education. Rosenberg plans to take a year off for Project Adventure and a NOLS course. She then plans to incorporate the skills developed through the programs to make math teaching more meaningful and fun to her students and incorporate experiential learning. Demonstrating to her students that even an outdoor leader uses math will show them that math is used everywhere.

Rosenberg taught high school math for three years and feels that, “traditional classroom teaching isn't for me at this time in my life.” She resigned from teaching to continue her master's degree full time. She is studying at Plymouth University with a self-designed focus on adventure learning, and she hopes to finish by next summer and set a specific career goal.

“Adventure learning can take me anywhere from challenge ropes courses to programs like NOLS or Outward Bound, to experiential education schools, to adventure based counseling, and beyond... I can take things pretty much wherever I want, and I can see myself in many different jobs,” explained Rosenberg.


Rosenberg plans to take the NOLS Southwest Outdoor Educator course in Tucson, Ariz.  She had always wanted to take a NOLS course. Her advisor at Plymouth State told her that a NOLS course could count towards her master’s program.  

Rosenberg recalls, “I was so excited because I have heard that the NOLS instructors are the best of the best, and the courses are surely an amazing opportunity.”  

Since her master’s program is self-designed, she hopes the NOLS course will help her to see her strengths and spark an interest to move in a focused direction.  

Rosenberg is currently on a U.S. road trip.  Her planned stops include Baltimore, Chicago, Nebraska, Denver, Buena Vista, Durango, Telluride, Grand Teton/Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, Bend, Klamath Falls, Mt. Shasta/Weed, Grass Valley, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, LA, Long Beach, San Diego, and the plan for the way back is Sedona, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Nashville, Asheville, and back to Baltimore.

“For now, I'm just learning and exploring as much as I can.”



Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jul 31, 2012 in the following categories: In The News, Instructor News, Southwest

NOLS ladies at Little Red

Nearly a dozen NOLS women participated in a very important bike ride last weekend. We were proud to be represented at the annual Little Red Riding Hood, a non-competitive cycling event that raises funds for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah.

Leslie van Barselaar, WMI marketing coordinator, sold her road bike when her cancer recurred in 2010 thinking she’d never ride again. When she crossed the finish line last weekend, having completed 36 miles, Leslie was struck with joy and relief.

“I hadn’t realized how much that moment transcended the long four years of cancer treatment and assaults to my body with replacing that trauma with regained trust and faith in what my body could do,” she reflected.

Leslie rode with her friend and colleague, Debra East, WMI admissions supervisor. Debra rode last year, providing inspiration for Leslie, who supported her 2011 ride, to join this year. The two were joined by a number of coworkers.

“It was great to share the road with so many NOLS colleagues, including women I work with daily in the Wilderness Medicine Institute office,” Debra noted. She said she could feel the shared energy of the women riding in support of the Huntsman Institute’s research and staff.

“It is an empowering ride that can span the ages of girls to older women, all riding together, raising funds for [ovarian] and breast cancer research University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute,” Debra wrote.

The all-female environment was new and delightful for Kate Herden, one of our marketing representatives.

“The beauty of all of the riders is what really struck me. It seemed like everyone from 9 to 90, tall/short, thick/thin, was riding with such a sense of pride,” she wrote.

Beautiful cyclists Sam Baker, Lindsay D'Addato, and Jenna Helgeson pause and grin. Kate Herden photo.

Among those women was Linda Lindsey, NOLS’ human resources and inclusion manager. She said she particularly enjoyed the non-competitive environment as she took on her first 50-mile solo ride (she’s put in many on a tandem bike). She didn’t have any trouble finding local women who were also training for the event in Cache Valley in Utah.

WMI Registrar Jenna Helgeson signed up for the full 100 miles and trained a bit with Kate, photographer Lindsay D’Addato, and designer Sam Baker. On the day of the ride, they came upon Leslie and Debra about 57 miles in and all rolled into town together.

Debra East and Leslie Van Barselaar, front, joined by Jenna Helgeson. Kate Herden photo.

“We took the last leg as a group relying on our never ceasing laughter, singing and daydreams of ice cream to drive us home!” reported Kate.

We at NOLS are very proud of these women for taking on the challenge of “Little Red,” working toward a difficult goal, sometimes on their own and always in support of one another. And all for a good cause. Well done, and thank you to all of you.

Debra East, WMI admissions supervisor

Leslie Van Barselaar, WMI marketing coordinator

Lindsay D’Addato, photographer

Kate Herden, marketing representative

Jenna Helgeson, WMI registrar

Sam Baker, designer

Jennifer Connell, research and campaign cordinator

Shana Tarter, WMI assistant director

Pip Coe, alumni and development director

Linda Lindsey, human resources and inclusion manager

Judy Crawford, WMI instructor

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jun 11, 2012 in the following categories: Instructor News, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Update on Funding the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus Construction

The Wilderness Medicine recently celebrated a milestone in internal fundraising when 75% of their staff graciously gave a gift toward the construction of the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. Tod Schimelpfenig, WMI Curriculum Director and NOLS senior staff, stepped up to lead a staff-initiated campaign that also put his skin in the game. Schimelpfenig gallantly offered to display himself wearing a WMI Buff® as a tube-top if 85% of the WMI staff donated to the cause.


Tod w:buff
Tod with the WMI Buff® ©Travis Welch


"Though we did not hit our 85% goal,” states Schimelpfenig, “We are very pleased so many of you chose to participate. One hundred and eighty-six WMI in-town and instructional staff donated to the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus campaign. This is a stunning achievement. Your generosity and commitment to WMI is beautiful and we deeply appreciate it. Next, the NOLS fundraising folks will leverage your dedication to raise the remainder of the money we need to build our campus, and our future. Again, thank you from the whole of our hearts."

This staff campaign supports the challenge goal set by biomedical entrepreneur and philanthropist,  Mr. Hansjorg Wyss. In short, if NOLS supporters raise $1.5M toward the completion of the campus, Mr. Wyss will generously match our dollars.

 Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus fundraising facts to date:
1) Total currently raised towards the $1.5 million goal is: $1,067,612.30
2) Total number of donors: 354
3) Total left to raise: $432,387.70

For more information about the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus please see our blog at:

Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

To donate to our cause please go to:

Donate to the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jun 6, 2012 in the following categories: Alumni, Instructor News, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Faculty Summit workshop examines technology in the backcountry

As the final day of the second annual NOLS Faculty Summit began to wind down, the final workshops of the week imparted final insights and discussions.

Faculty Summit 12Brad Christensen photo

One of these was on the topic of communication and technologies in the wilderness classroom, an ever-evolving subject. Facilitated by NOLS Professional Training Program Coordinator Marcio Paes Barreto, the forum explored questions along continuums such as “Is a GPS enabling or distracting? How about a Kindle, with or without search capabilities?” and “Where do you stand on managing technology like iPhones on a continuum from physical removal to a verbal contract?”

These questions were posed not with the goal of setting or revising NOLS policy, but of discussing shifting technological advances and reliance, as well as the value of removing (or relying on) such tools while on a NOLS course. The forum examined faculty members’ perspectives and experiences with radios, phones, personal locator beacons, cameras, and new navigation apps on iPads.

NOLS has always believed that living in nature—free of society’s distractions—teaches responsibility, that wilderness is the best place to develop leadership skills. Nonetheless, devices like GPS and satellite phones can serve as both educational and risk management tools. As the wave of technology rolls forward, NOLS must remain on that wave, not behind it, as it seeks the best ways to educate students.

Ultimately, the group agreed that when communication and information technology overlap, disruption can be avoided when educational goals are incorporated. This, of course, will be an intriguing wave to watch as NOLS leads the outdoor education industry into the future.

For a video from this event and more, keep an eye on NOLS.TV starting next week.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on May 18, 2012 in the following categories: Instructor News, Professional Training

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