Sally Jewell: the Right Choice for Outdoor Recreation in Wyoming
This opinion piece by NOLS Executive Director John Gans was first published in the Casper Star Tribune in Wyoming April 15.
One week ago, The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm Sally Jewell as the next secretary of interior. At the helm of the federal department that encompasses the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and other agencies responsible for stewardship of our public lands and waters, she will have a positive impact on Wyoming’s outdoor recreation economy, while being mindful of our energy portfolio.
Jewell’s resume demonstrates the balance sought when managing diverse interests on federal lands. She spent her early career as a petroleum engineer, and evolved to become the chief executive of outdoor retailer giant REI. Through her experience, Jewell understands that our nation’s public lands directly support the economy, both through responsible energy development and through access to recreational opportunities.
In Wyoming, we know that having a robust energy portfolio does not require sacrificing our inspiring landscapes. Careful planning and local input ensure that we can have both. The success of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act is an excellent example of our state’s ability to achieve that balance. With the focus on activities in the outdoors that Jewell would bring to the Department of Interior, Wyoming’s record of success can be a model for the nation.
Outdoor recreation is already a significant economic driver in our state. It generates $4.5 billion in consumer spending and $300 million in state and local tax revenue (based on a report by the Outdoor Industry Association based on surveys taken in 2011 and 2012). It directly sustains 50,000 jobs in the state, and supports $1.4 billion in wages and salaries. Towns like Cody, Lander, and Jackson are heavily dependent on the outdoor recreation economy.
Indeed, most of us live here for the outdoor opportunities available. Whether hiking, climbing, horsepacking, four-wheeling, biking, fishing, hunting, birding or myriad other activities, we hold dear our access to public lands and the opportunities they provide. Jewell, too, thrives outside, and is an avid skier, kayaker and mountaineer.
Jewell’s values are reflected in her advocacy. In her time at REI, she was closely involved in efforts to promote opportunities on public lands. She engaged in the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which fostered a national conversation on connecting people with the outdoors, providing access opportunities, and seeking out partnerships. Through her close association with the initiative, she gained a solid understanding of the ongoing priorities for the Department of Interior.
At the National Outdoor Leadership School, we are keenly aware of the value gained from having someone with an understanding of the significance and the benefits of recreation on public lands as the secretary of interior. From national parks to the Bureau of Land Management, NOLS operates extensively on Department of Interior lands across Wyoming and the American West. Teaching in these unique landscapes provides immeasurable opportunities for our students to develop as skilled outdoors people and mature into positive ethical leaders who understand complex land use issues.
With this new face of leadership at the Department of Interior, we have high hopes that our priorities in this state will be reflected in the management of the BLM and the national parks. Getting young people into the outdoors, making public lands accessible to outdoor enthusiasts, and supporting the economy that continues to thrive on these values need to be priorities as we progress in the 21st century.
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.
Expedition Denali stories inspire in Lander and beyond
Last week, the Expedition Denali team traveled to Lander, Wyo., where they spent a day at NOLS Headquarters for their final gathering before they attempt to summit Denali in June. As part of this visit, they held a forum for local NOLS staff in which they shared their motivations, fears, and expectations for joining Expedition Denali. Each brought his or her own story to the team, creating a strong, diverse group that will be able to impact the lives of a variety of children across the nation.
Tyrhee Moore, for example, hails from Washington, D.C. The youngest member of his team, he was fortunate enough to attend a summer camp in Wyoming in middle school. Had he not had that exposure to the backcountry, he might never have discovered all the wilderness has to offer. Now a NOLS student, a former NOLS fellow, and the NOLS catalog “cover boy,” he is in a unique position to expose his peers to the excitement, accessibility, and “coolness” of outdoor adventure.
Brad Christensen photo
Ryan Mitchell has long been a driving force in bringing underrepresented youth into new fields, ranging from math and science (which he teaches at DeVry) to cycling. Expedition Denali is another step in a lifetime of making a difference for future generations.
Brad Christensen photo
Adina Scott didn’t realize not all families treasure the outdoors like hers did until she was an adult. Casually and through outreach organizations, she has introduced friends of all ages to the wonder of the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors. She believes in the power of adventuring in the wilderness and sees Expedition Denali as a means of bringing many new friends into her playground through Expedition Denali.
Brad Christensen photo
This is just a taste of the rich insight and experiences the team members and instructors will bring to the climb and outreach efforts. The reliability of each and of the team as a whole will fuel the mission of Expedition Denali—to inspire diversity in the outdoors—as they and their cause climb to new heights.
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.
NOLS Named a Top-Rated Nonprofit
Thanks to the outstanding reviews posted by the NOLS community over the last month, GreatNonprofits honored NOLS with a prestigious 2012 Top-Rated Award last week.
The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews NOLS received from volunteers, donors, and graduates.
More than 25 people posted reviews about their personal experiences with the school to the GreatNonprofits page. For example, one person wrote, “Of my 8 semesters during my undergraduate college career, the semester I spent at NOLS was far and away the most valuable. NOLS builds leaders...”
GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Its mission is to inspire and inform donors and volunteers, enable nonprofits to show their impact, and promote greater feedback and transparency.
"We are gratified by NOLS for its work,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits. "They deserve to be discovered by more donors and volunteers who are looking for a great nonprofit to support."
Read more of the reviews and contribute your own thoughts here.
As a nonprofit organization, NOLS is committed to our mission—to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.
Give today to the NOLS annual fund to support essential day-to-day operations, scholarships, outreach, curriculum development, and sustainability initiatives.
REI joins Expedition Denali
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.
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.
Linda Lindsey named to Governor's Council
Linda Lindsey, NOLS human resources and inclusion director, has been named to the Wyoming Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
She was nominated for the three-year seat by a fellow member of Leadership Wyoming.
The council’s mission is to “promote, educate, encourage and provide opportunities for all citizens of Wyoming to help them achieve overall well-being through physical activities and health awareness,” a mission Lindsey said her beliefs alight with strongly. Previously a nurse, she is familiar with the dangers of obesity and inactivity. On the other hand, working for NOLS, she gets to witness the value of NOLS students being active in the outdoors.
Lindsey is looking forward to learning about all the ways the council affects change and bringing her experience and interest to the table. She is particularly interested in reaching the various segments of Wyoming’s population. We'll keep you updated on what she accomplishes on this council over the next three years.
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.
The Results are In: Challenge for Charities Raises Half-Tuition Scholarship for Local Student
Lander Community Foundation’s Challenge for Charities was a huge success this year. NOLS was one of 24 local non-profits to participate, raising nearly $2,400 towards a local scholarship. Funds came from individual donors, runners of the Lander Half Marathon and 5K who contributed their “Charity Bucks” winnings, and a 54 percent match through the foundation. Forty Community Challengers contributed $65,400 to the matching fund.
NOLS would like to thank our donors, runners, the Lander Community Foundation and Community Challengers for supporting this important community initiative.