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.
Youth Leadership Conference - North Cascades Institute
NOLS 2013 Stewardship Award goes to Myron Jeffs of the BLM Henry Mountain Field Office
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) awarded its 2013 Stewardship Award to Myron Jeffs, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Henry Mountain Field Office in Hanksville, Utah. The NOLS Stewardship Award, presented annually since 1990, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional stewardship of public lands and the environment.
NOLS chose to honor Jeffs for the exceptional role he plays as liaison to the private and commercial outdoor recreation community. Outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes benefit from Jeffs’ balanced and communicative approach to recreation planning. Visitors from around the country and the globe leave the Henry Mountain Field Office with a better understanding of issues facing public lands after interacting with Jeffs, thanks to the high bar he sets for outreach and dialogue.
On NOLS canyoneering courses along the Dirty Devil River, Jeffs visits with every course. He facilitates engaging land management discussions with NOLS students, as well as with other recreation clubs and outdoor education organizations. In that same vein, he regularly facilitates and encourages volunteerism among outdoor recreation groups.
NOLS Rocky Mountain Assistant Director Andy Blair said NOLS students and instructors alike are enthusiastic about their discussions with Jeffs.
“They are impressed with how open, candid, and objective [Jeffs] has been when they ask about various management topics,” said Blair. “These topics range across a wide spectrum including recreational impacts, group size, grazing, oil and gas and mineral development.”
Originally from Castle Dale, Utah, Jeffs has a long history of working on public lands in the west. Prior to his current position, he worked for the Price BLM Field Office, Nevada State Parks and for Utah State Parks.
Taking Stock of the Government Shutdown
Tourists and wedding hopefuls weren’t the only ones disappointed by the closure of the National Parks and other public lands during the partial government shutdown. As barricades and closure signs adorned the normally welcoming entrances to parks and national forests, those in the outdoor education industry were, in some cases, left without a classroom. Several NOLS locations had to re-route courses at the last minute, quickly adapting and finding new locations for several courses.
- A Semester in the Northwest course had its hiking section moved from North Cascades National Park to the adjacent Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest and was able to run without further complications. Another Semester in the Northwest course was scheduled to run their coastal hiking section in Olympic National Park and instead they hiked on Nootka Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
- NOLS Southwest had a canoeing section scheduled to run through Big Bend National Park in western Texas and had to relocate upriver to Big Bend Ranch State Park. During the two days of logistics and shuffling around the students were sent to a primitive skills camp just outside of Tucson. The students ran the same part of the river twice, as entrance downriver into the National Park was off-limits. A custom course with NASA at NOLS Southwest was also postponed.
- At NOLS Rocky Mountain, a climbing course scheduled for Devil’s Tower National Monument moved to Vedauwoo.
- NOLS Teton Valley was not affected, but if the shutdown had taken place during the river running season, a course that runs through the Salmon-Challis National Forest likely would have been re-routed.
Though public lands have re-opened, the shutdown will continue to have rippling effects as commercial outfitters try to regain the momentum they lost.
Leemon receives Wilderness Risk Management Award
NOLS Director of Risk Management Drew Leemon has been awarded the Charles (Reb) Gregg Wilderness Risk Management Award at the 20th annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC).
The Charles (Reb) Gregg Award for exceptional leadership, service, and innovation in wilderness risk management recognizes extraordinary contributions to the outdoor education community, to adventure and service organizations, and to programs and businesses that utilize wild places for their activities. Recipients of the Reb Gregg award have contributed significantly to the practice of wilderness risk management by raising standards of practice, providing valued service to an industry committed to connecting people to wilderness, and supporting the stewardship of wilderness.
Leemon has been in wilderness education for 34 years, including as the NOLS risk management director for 18 years. He has also committed 18 years to the WRMC steering committee and six years as its chair. During his tenure with NOLS, he designed and implemented the NOLS accepted field practices, a tool for communicating NOLS' best field practices, supervises training and continuing education opportunities for field instructors and led initiatives such as NOLS' incorporation of satellite phones and personal locator beacons on field courses.
Leemon’s colleague, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute Curriculum Director Tod Schimelpfenig introduced him at the WRMC award ceremony.
“[Leemon] has created an atmosphere of openness in risk management and incident response, a culture where it's acceptable to investigate, report, and learn from our experience. In a world that can be secretive, suspicious, closed, and defensive when problems arise, field staff trust that field incidents will be handled thoughtfully, carefully, thoroughly, and respectfully. NOLS—and Drew—plays a large role in this process: sets a standard for communicating lessons learned.”
Upon accepting the award, Leemon noted the passion that brings together the WRMC, himself included:
“We’re all here because we know that adventure, experiential education, and being in nature exposes us to physical and emotional risk, but that this risk is what allows us and our students to grow and become better people. This duality of risk means that while we risk loss, we also gain by taking risks,” he said.
NOLS Rocky Mountain makes ‘back to school’ more fun
NOLS Rocky Mountain brought extra adventure to Lander Valley High School freshman orientation in this week.
NOLS facilitated two days of climbing for rising freshmen "to coalesce the incoming freshman class, experience problem solving through challenge and uncertainty, and provide a shared experience going into their four-year experience of high school," said NOLS Rocky Mountain Special Projects Manager Brian Fabel.
Over 70 students participated at no cost to them or to Lander Valley High School.
The program was documented by local news source County 10.
Former NOLS Chair honored
The Murie Center presented former NOLS Board of Trustees Chair Gretchen Long with the third annual Spirit of Conservation Award last week.
Long is a 1991 graduate of the 25 and over Baja Sea Kayaking course and was named chairman of the NOLS Board in 1998. She is also an emeritus board member of The Murie Center.
The Murie Center Spirit of Conservation Award is presented to an individual whose life work demonstrates a commitment to conservation, civility, and community—trademarks of the Murie family legacy. The Murie Center, in partnership with the Grand Teton National Park, engages people to understand and commit to the enduring value of conserving wildlife and wild places.
Best Place to Work ... Still
For the sixth year in a row, NOLS has been named one of Outside Magazine's "Best Places to Work." NOLS is one of only five nonprofit organizations selected and, along with Natural Habitat Adventures, Patagonia, Smith Optics, and Smartwool, earns the distinction of being included all six years Outside has published this list. A review of NOLS and other top-performing companies is available at www.outsideonline.com.
"As a world leader in outdoor education, NOLS staff share their passion for wilderness medicine, mountaineering, and more with students age 14 to 70. Here, employees are more likely to wear Chacos than dress shoes, which better prepares them for frequent post-work climbs or hikes," the article states.
NOLS Executive Director John Gans gives all of the credit to the staff and faculty. "As we approach 50 years of wilderness education it is clear that our staff are the core of our success. Their consistent dedication to our mission is the reason for our success and also for our ongoing placement as a top national employer," he said.
Two NOLS Employees prove to be "Cowboy Tough"
Sore muscles and vivid memories are the only things that remain after NOLS employees, Katie Everson and Adam Swisher completed the Cameco Cowboy Tough race yesterday in Casper, WY. Finishing 4th in their category and 17th overall, Everson and Swisher jogged through the finish line with wet clothes and vibrant grins. For three and a half days, they ran, biked, canoed, rappelled and floated sections of a ~400 mile course that challenged some of the most experienced adventure racers around the country. The Casper Star-Tribune followed their progress throughout the race and published a great recap of the event entitled, Cowboy Tough: Three days on the trail with Wyoming's two adventure racing teams. The main photo of the story shows the pair hiking through a barren landscape holding zebra-print "parasols" over their heads for sun protection.
NOLS is extremely proud of the effort, skills and teamwork that Everson and Swisher showed as they represented both NOLS and the state of Wyoming during this event. It may take a few months for the team to forget some of the hardships they experienced along the way and feel excited about competing again, but don't be surprised if you see these two test their mettle in a similar race in the near future.
NOLS to Play Major Roles at Cowboy Tough Adventure Race
Starting Thursday morning in southeastern Wyoming is the Cameco and City of Casper Cowboy Tough Expedition Race. As part of the Rev3 Adventure Race Series, this point-to-point race, starting in Cheyenne and ending in Casper is also a national qualifying race for the North American Adventure Racing Series (NAARS). Teams of two or four people will race through a series of outdoor disciplines including trekking, biking, river travel, rappelling as well as other challenging activities.
NOLS is a major sponsor of the event, providing support in multiple ways. As the racers depart from Cheyenne, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute will join the medical crew, bringing the experience of three of WMI’s own WEMTs. Jared Steinman, the NOLS social media coordinator, Travis Welch, WMI’s program and retail store manager, and Greg Flemming, a WMI instructor will all use their training to provide medical attention as needed for the racer. In addition to being there to treat race-related illnesses and injuries, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute will provide most of the medical gear.
A section of the adventure race will be orienteering. NOLS’ own Casey Pikla and Kelly Carlin will manage and oversee this portion as adventure racers go to and from each checkpoint. There are mandatory checkpoints as well as optional checkpoints for time bonuses. Once the race is over, Pikla and Carlin will continue to help by breaking down the orienteering section of the race.
On the other side of the race, NOLS’ own Katie Everson, admission office and Adam Swisher, instructor and curriculum and publications manager, will participate in Cowboy Tough. Everson, with a background in marathons and swimming and Adam, with a history of long -distance adventure races will be strong competitors as Team Wyo.
NOLS will also set up an information booth at the finish line in Casper, Wyo. The booth will host backcountry cooking demonstrations and knot tying lessons. Anyone in Casper for the race is encouraged to stop by the NOLS table for information and demonstrations.
“NOLS has been taking people into Wyoming’s backcountry for over 45 years. We’re excited to support an organization and race whose goal is to showcase and raise awareness to Wyoming’s recreational opportunities and wild places,” said Steinman.
While Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks garner most of the natural world attention of Wyoming, it’s important to remind visitors that the entire state is full of natural beauty from the sagebrush plains of the high mountain desert to the craggy peaks of Wind River Mountain Range and into each lush river valley surrounded and contrasted by the arid red rock canyon landscape.