Wyoming Legislature Angles to Annex Federal Lands
It’s the beginning of a new year, and the 2015 Wyoming State Legislative Session is in full swing. There are many reasons to pay attention to the bills passing through legislature, but why is it important to NOLS?
There are several bills being proposed in this year’s legislative session that are worthy of attention. One profoundly influential bill concerning NOLS operations is House Bill 209, the Transfer of Federal Lands. House Bill 209 mimics bills of the past, proposing that control over public lands in Wyoming ought to be transferred from the federal government into the hands of the state.
Why is this a concern? One of the greatest assets to NOLS as an outfitter is the integrity of its federal land permits. Without the permits that NOLS has acquired within Wyoming’s wilderness, NOLS operations in the state would not be possible. Transferring control of public lands to the state threatens the status of existing permits in the federal permits system, jeopardizing accessibility to NOLS classrooms.
In addition to placing NOLS classrooms in jeopardy, House Bill 209 could potentially have detrimental effects on Wyoming’s travel and tourism economy. Lending control of public land to the state encourages exploitation of the land’s resources for the greatest economic means, which does not always represent or promote the true beauty and value of the land. Furthermore, state lands are not available for camping. This fact, as we are all well aware, has the ability to negatively impact NOLS, as well as the everyday Wyoming recreationist.
As the 2015 legislative session presses on, NOLS will be keeping an eye on House Bill 209, among several other bills that may affect the school. If you would like to view the content and status of this bill or any other bills being proposed, visit the Wyoming Legislature website.
Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management in NOLS Patagonia
Jerry Rizzo, Director of Leadership Programs at Cornell's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, reflected on the adversity, learning, and new-found confidence his students encountered on the school's recent NOLS expedition. Ranked among the nation's top business schools, Johnson has gone to Patagonia with NOLS since 2013. Read Jerry's full post here.
The Governor's Task Force on Forests
Wyoming’s expansive forests are exceptional. For more reasons than one may realize, the state’s forests play an important role in our lives and future. Whether it be environmental, economic or recreational value, these areas represent something that every Wyomingite can identify with.
Hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting, skiing, and observing wildlife are just a few of the activities that take place in Wyoming’s forests. In addition to these lifestyles, the forests generously provide us with clean air and drinking water, as well as habitats for fisheries and wildlife. It is for these reasons, among many others, that NOLS has a special relationship with these wild places.
With damaging wildfires, invasive non-native species and residential development, forests within Wyoming have been facing more challenges in recent years. The Governor’s Task Force on Forests, a group of representatives from various organizations in Wyoming, came together under Governor Matt Mead to highlight the most important aspects of the state’s forests. The Task Force was created to proactively manage issues concerning forests in Wyoming by highlighting their attributes and implementing recommendations to help maintain and protect them.
Recommendations made by the Task Force were finalized and approved earlier this month and the result is worthy of recognition. The final report addresses issues pertaining to fire and other disturbance, resource management, and economic opportunity. Many of the recommendations are important to NOLS because they help to ensure that the unique outdoor classrooms in Wyoming are not compromised. By taking preemptive action against threats to forests in Wyoming, we can continue to enjoy and appreciate their supreme resources and beauty.
NOLS Grad Nominated for 2015 Adventurer of the Year Award
“Now what do you think each one of those people who voted for you needs to learn?" “And what do you think you need to learn?"
These are two questions Kit DesLauriers was asked by her NOLS instructor when selected by her coursemates to lead a small group through a three-day backpacking journey in Alaska. Over 20 years later DesLauriers says, “Of course both of those questions were largely rhetorical but they remain relevant to this day.”
DesLauriers, a NOLS Semester in Alaska ’91 graduate, who currently resides in Jackson, Wyoming, is one of the most well-known ski mountaineers around the world and a nominee for the 2015 Adventures of the Year Award. This award is presented by National Geographic and selected by readers. It recognizes people who have helped make our year in adventure that much better. Through exploration, adventure sports, conservation, and humanitarianism DesLauriers has shown her dedication to her passion in life.
You can vote for DesLauriers every day until Jan. 31.
Andy Bardon photo
From early childhood, DesLauriers remembers having had a passion for the outdoors, whether it was hiking in the desert or canoeing down a river with her family. By the age of 19, DesLauriers was ready to take her adventure abroad and traveled to France to study at the University of Marseilles. Once October break came about, she took advantage of her location and traveled to Switzerland to backpack through the Alps.
“I realized that with some formal training to supplement my desire to see the world, I, too, could go to these far off places,” she said she realized while reading through some books at a local’s cabin. Little did she know, NOLS was going to give her this opportunity.
After returning to the states, DesLauriers earned her degree from the University of Arizona and was encouraged by a NOLS graduate to take a course.
“I wanted as much experience in as adventurous of a location as I could possibly get,” she stated.
After some research and reading through a NOLS catalog, DesLauriers found the Semester in Alaska which, “fulfilled my dream and opened many doors.”
Since her course, DesLauriers has pursued numerous expeditions, many back in Alaska.
“In between that moment on the Chickaloon during my Semester in Alaska '91 and my first expedition to the Brooks Range in 2010, I made four other trips to Alaska including two heli-skiing trips on Thompson Pass, a climb and ski descent of Denali, and a boat- based ski mountaineering adventure based in Prince William Sound (which was also inspired by my NOLS course experience),” DesLauriers said. “That first trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in April 2010 won my heart, however, and I went back to the Arctic Refuge in 2012 and again in 2014.”
Also, DesLauriers has teamed up with Dr. Matt Nolan to conduct studies on the McCall Glacier. During this time she was able to climb and ski Mount Isto and Mount Chamberlin.
Today, you can find DesLauriers taking her family on vacations from Yosemite to Jackson Lake.
“I believe that if you make the choice to lead a life inspired by the outdoors, your kids are likely to follow by example,” she said.
We think she’s setting a great example, and she has our vote. Vote for DeLauriers here!
RM Interns Organize Community Garden Cleanup
At NOLS Rocky Mountain, each season the interns are required to develop and facilitate a community outreach project.
They selected this project to get involved with the Lander community, give back, and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.
Burrows and Martin also communicated with local businesses and received food donations for the volunteers who came out for their event.
The volunteers earned their lunch, by building garden beds, sifting dirt, pulling weeds, and helping unload manure. NOLS employees and locals worked together to improve the garden and learn about the community plot.
"We had fun getting our hands dirty and working to help benefit Pushroot Community Garden this weekend. It was great to see the community support and enthusiasm for the volunteer day, especially within local businesses that made the event a success through their donations to the cause," said Burrows.
Voice of America Visits NOLS to Profile YALI Fellow
This week Andrea Tadic and Philip Alexiou, journalists from Voice of America visited NOLS Headquarters and NOLS Rocky Mountain in Lander, Wyoming.
Based in Washington, D.C., Voice of America is an English language news program, which broadcasts internationally.
They came to profile Dziedzorm “JayJay” Segbefia who was part of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This program is run through the United States State Department, and this summer 500 fellows from all parts of Africa participated in the six-week fellowship program.
First the fellows were sent to different colleges where they took classes on public management, civic leadership, and business entrepreneurship. JayJay was sent to Dartmouth College to participate in a business program.
In Ghana, JayJay is the Expedition Leader for Bravehearts Expeditions. His company takes youth into the wilderness and pushes them to new limits.
“I applied for YALI because I saw in it an opportunity for coaching, personal development, and business education all in one category” said JayJay.
After the culturally engaging sessions at Dartmough, Segbefia was placed at an internship at NOLS Rocky Mountain. An employee at the United States State Department was a NOLS alumna and identified NOLS as an ideal fit for JayJay’s internship.
JayJay came to Wyoming and spent time working at NOLS Rocky Mountain in the issue room and food rations store The Gulch.
When the film crew arrived in Lander, fellow JayJay had just returned from a Wind River Wilderness – Prime course. Tadic and Alexiou visited NOLS Rocky Mountain where JayJay gave them a tour and talked about his experiences both on the course and during his internship.
They also headed up to Sinks Canyon to shoot some footage of him rock climbing, a skill he developed and got passionate about during his time with NOLS.
JayJay plans to use his experiences and practices learned at NOLS back at his own company.
While in Lander, the film crew also had the chance to speak with some NOLS employees about the school and their personal experiences in the field.
Stay tuned in the coming months for the pieces profiling both JayJay and NOLS!
Exploration Film Tour Celebrates the Spirit of Adventure
The first annual NOLS Exploration Film Tour features two and a half hours of exciting short films based on themes of wonder, discovery, curiosity, and the timelessness of the wilderness experience.
For one night, come celebrate the wonder of the outdoors through film. NOLS believes these films will inspire viewers to get outside and have their own adventures.
The event will include the following films:
- World Beyond Worlds
- To the East
- Golden Ears
- An American Ascent
- Wild New Brave
- Maiden Light
The doors for each event will open at 6:15 p.m., with films starting at 6:45 p.m. There will be a 15-minute intermission, with each event ending at 9 p.m.
Click on the locations below to register for the free event nearest you, as space is limited.
Sept. 5,2014: Fairbanks, Alaska
Sept. 11, 2014: Anchorage, Alaska
Sept. 14, 2014: Bellingham, Washington
Sept. 20, 2014: Olympia, Washington
Oct. 9, 2014: Birmingham, Alabama
Oct. 12, 2014: Atlanta, Georgia
Oct. 18, 2014: Cookeville, Tennessee
Oct. 19, 2014: Greensboro, North Carolina
Come view these films with fellow and aspiring outdoors people and walk away with door prizes—including a chance to win a free NOLS course!
Don’t see an event in your area? Click here to suggest locations for next year’s NOLS Exploration Film Tour!
Lander Valley High School and NOLS team up for incoming freshmen orientation
On August 12th and 13th NOLS teamed up with Lander Valley High School to provide a taste of outdoor recreation to the freshmen orientation. This is the second year that NOLS has helped out with the freshmen orientation and NOLS hopes to make it an annual event for years to come.
Lander Valley High School is located at the foothills of the Wind River Mountains in the small, tight knit, and active community of Lander, Wyoming, NOLS’ original home and headquarters. Kids spend their time cruising around on bikes, playing video games, joining high school sports teams, and goofing off like kids should. Many families take their kids out into the Winds for family trips and some parents take their kids rock climbing or backcountry skiing. These kids are so lucky to have so many unique opportunities for recreation, and many don’t realize how special of a place they live in.
This past week, NOLS ran a special course for students at the local high school who are going into their senior year. They took students who agreed to be “senior mentors” out to the Winds where they got to spend a week backpacking with instructors Thea Sittler and Jonathan Brooks.
The course almost summited Wind River Peak but got to witness some extreme weather instead, including an impressive hail storm! They got to experience greeting a day with a pre-breakfast sunrise hike and they got to see some alpine wildlife. They learned how to cook in the backcountry and learned how to work as a well-oiled machine. They were allowed to make mistakes and help each other out and, like on any NOLS course, they learned how much fun simply hanging out around a whisper lite stove without life’s usual distractions can be. All the while, these students got the added bonus of being able to say they were hanging out in their home mountain range.
When the senior mentors got back to Lander, it became their turn to share the importance of being outside in your backyard. Along with a fleet of NOLS instructors, the senior mentors got to take any incoming freshmen who were interested up to Sinks Canyon for a few hours of rock climbing as a part of their freshmen orientation. Instructors taught some basic safety rules and explained the rope systems, while the senior mentors became instant leaders and took the reins to coach the freshman through tying the figure eight, belaying, and climbing technique. Watching students climb at Sinks, it quickly became apparent why climbing is such a great addition to a freshman orientation. The sport has so many assets which teach so many different skills and ideas.
For example, there is a learning curve to the rope systems, which challenges people before they even leave the ground.
“This friction device pulls the rope that way and then you lock the carabineer and spin it that way so that it doesn’t cross load, and then the load bearing strand is pulled downwards; do multiple wraps and make sure the prussik will self tend then double check for redundancy before weighting the system…”
As a climber myself, it took years to get used to translating sentences like these. Rock climbing requires focus and an open mind to learn how all of the systems work. While the systems taught to the freshmen at Sinks Canyon were relatively simple compared to the one above, remembering that most of them had never heard of gri-gris before really gave me an appreciation for how quickly students can wrap their minds around new ideas. They learned their knots quickly and got the belaying motions down almost instantly.
While some students were willing to blindly (sometimes literally, with a blindfold on!!) throw their weight onto the rope, others were more skeptical and hesitant to trust the rope systems and their belayer. They double checked each other’s’ systems while a NOLS instructor watched, used commands to communicate that they are ready to climb, and then left the ground once they know they fully trusted the situation.
Another important lesson learned from climbing is how to be resourceful. Students were equipped with everything necessary to get up the wall, along with a quick demonstration and explanation of climbing technique. Once a student is on the wall, they have to figure out how to use their resources (shoes, limbs, rock etc.) mostly on their own. In high school, students bring their own strengths to the table, which are unique to their past experiences and their interests. With each new activity they try, each homework assignment, each challenging moment, and each decision they make, they have to figure out how to use their resources to problem solve their way through.
Lastly, and potentially the best part of climbing, is that it can be awkward as heck! This is especially true among a group of newer climbers. Instructors watched students slowly work their way up walls, flail, fall, etc. Students learned that it is awkward to jam a foot in a crack, stand on it, and then realize that it must be taken out in the reverse order. They also learned that, despite feeling confident with your feet on a small little foot hold, its possible to have your toe slip off unexpectedly at any time!
From finding jelly beans perched on climbing holds, to blindfolding each other, to dumping bottles of water on each other to beat the heat, the students got a solid introduction to what rock climbing at your home crag is really like and the staff found it super satisfying to introduce students to their local recreation opportunities.
At the end of the day it was inspiring to listen to instructors equate lessons learned from climbing to life skills needed to make it through high school. It was neat to see how easy it is to bridge the gap between academic education and adventure education. From learning technical rope skills to developing trust and a good mindset, NOLS was thrilled to provide a great climbing orientation for these incoming Lander Valley High School freshmen and to incorporate some appropriate outdoor education to the start of their new academic journey.
Good luck to this group of students and may the send-train continue!
Written by Kaybe Loughran, NOLS Rocky Mountain Intern
In-Town Staff Value Out-of-Office Play
It's no secret that NOLS is a great place to work. Listed in Outside Magazine's "100 Best Places to Work" for the last six years, NOLS has been recognized nationally for its commitment to outdoor education and encouraging a good work-life balance. [Read more on this recognition here.]
NOLS employees are allowed to work flexible schedules so they can get outside and play. Many staff members at NOLS take advantage of this perk. With support from supervisors, employees can take time out of the workday to participate in community-wide lunchtime bike rides, climb at the local crag or complete individual training regimens.
The organization also takes that support a step further by encouraging staff to participate in races and multi-day events, even when these events take place on weekdays. NOLS employees are participating in outdoor ventures all over the world but are also playing roles in Wyoming’s growing adventure race scene.
For example, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute employees Kira Gilman, Jill Moeller, and Anna Horn entered and competed in the inaugural REV3 Casper Strong Full Day Adventure Race at their supervisor's urging.
The team members cheered each other through a series of unique and entertaining events in Casper, Wyoming. The Casper Strong race was a team effort and these three ladies bonded while tackling challenges along the course.
Gilman began the race for WMI’s team with a 12-mile trail run and then completed an archery section on top of Casper Mountain. Moeller then competed in the next leg of the race, mountain-biking and carrying a 50-pound salt block uphill. Finally, Horn tubed a whitewater section of the North Platte River to the finish line.
This winning team returned to the office with Casper Strong belt buckles and many stories to share.
"It was fun to have my supervisor encourage me to try something new and challenge myself. The push I receive from co-workers to pursue personal goals and well-being outside of the office is a huge part of what has made working in-town for NOLS sustainable for me," Horn reflected.
NOLS is committed to continuing its support and encouragement of employee wellness—a key ingredient in what makes the school an awesome place to work!
Thanks for the Experience
Thank you for creating an atmosphere where we would find ourselves creating an annual tradition of sending staff to compete in such an exciting, intimidating, and demanding event as the Cowboy Tough Adventure Race.
Thank you for encouraging us to pursue our curiosity and interest in adventure racing, particularly when it passes right through our back yard: the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.
Casey Adams and Marina Fleming, part of a four-person team, prepare to start in South Pass City on July 17. Jeanne O'Brien photo
Thank you for educating us in leadership, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, navigation, nutrition, and pack packing, all of which made our experience last week that much more “comfortable.”
Thank you for connecting us with preferred retailers like Deuter and Brooks so that our backs, feet, legs, and faces would be well-cared for out there—in addition to supplying us with assorted mandatory gear and epic piles of food. We carried countless bars and trail snacks 400 miles across Wyoming in our Deuter Trans Alpine backpacks, which proved surprisingly comfortable on a bike. We nursed our tired legs with Brooks compression socks as we slept each short night. We kept the sun off our faces and the burs out of our socks with the Brooks hats and Cascadia trail shoes and schlepped our way from South Pass City to Casper in an awe-inspiring, if indirect, route.
Thank you for being the kind of organization where it is perfectly reasonable for managers and interns alike to drive an hour to the starting line to cheer (which is pretty cool for the competitors and the fans alike). Thank you for setting up another cheering squad on Main Street on Day 2 of the race, just a block from where we could have been working instead of pedaling by and giving high fives en route to throwing tomahawks.
Finally thanks for supporting the race and our fellow racers by sending the highly educated and skilled medical team from the Wilderness Medicine Institute to follow all our 40 teams for four days, repair blisters on surely nasty feet, clean road rash, and more.
Obviously, thanks for taking, and subsequently sharing, this photo:
Brad Christensen photo
It’s an honor and a pleasure to work for NOLS. Thanks for the adventures, the community, and the support.
PR Specialist and Writer Casey Adams and Marketing Representative Marina Fleming, of the Wind River Country Team