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Earth Day Celebration at Pushroot Community Garden

NOLS and Pushroot Community Garden are at it again! For this year’s Earth Day event, Rocky Mountain Intern Marisa OlGrady and Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Intern CC Camilliere are working together with Pushroot for a day filled with volunteering and spring cleaning!

Founded in 2008 by a handful of passionate gardeners, Pushroot has blossomed into a vibrant and welcoming part of the Lander Valley community. In addition to providing space for locals to grow their very own organic plants and produce, Pushroot holds workshops in local schools and other nonprofits in town. Their Lights On program is held after school for 3rd-6th graders, and is designed to teach kids about organic gardening, local ecosystems, and in effect connect them to nature. Pushroot is also linked to the Lander Care and Share Food Bank, a partnership through which they inspire and encourage local gardeners to share both their produce and their knowledge with the rest of the community.

To help this garden grow, we will be spending the day volunteering our efforts to prepare for the approaching summer season.

We would love to have you join us on Saturday, April 26th! We will be at the garden from 11am-3pm on 715 Amoretti Street. Children are more than welcome but we request that they be accompanied by an adult. Food and beverages will be provided by Mr. D’s, Safeway, Gannett Grill, and Breadboard. We would also like to thank Valley Printing for donating our beautiful posters. Hope to see you (and the sunshine) there!

There will be a Pushroot Kick-off meeting 7pm on Wednesday, April 23rd at the Lander Library for those interested in having a garden plot this season.  

Earth Day Poster NOLS:Pushroot
Poster created by Caroline Henley

Permalink | Posted by Caitlin Camilliere on Apr 17, 2014 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Rocky Mountain

Get to Know NOLS Rocky Mountain

At the helm of NOLS Rocky Mountain is Gary Cukjati. Learn about why he loves all he can offer students from just one location:

Christensen_20120516_img_7254If you had one sentence to describe your staff, you would say:

NOLS Rocky Mountain staff are dedicated to helping each student have to opportunity for a life-changing experience in the backcountry.

How long have you been NOLS Rocky Mountain Branch Director?

7 years.

What is your background with NOLS? Or how did it all begin for you? 

I was a Fall Semester in the Rockies student in 1982. I realized that being in the Wilderness was simply a wonderful experience and came back to work for NOLS in 1986. 

What is your favorite aspect of running courses in your part of the world?

I know the landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the Canyons of Utah are simply stunning classrooms, which affords each student to have the opportunity of a positive, life-changing experience.


Dave Anderson/NOLS

What unique or particularly appealing aspect of this branch do you think potential students should know about?  

There was a reason that Paul Petzoldt chose the Wind River Mountains to start NOLS. He had traveled the world and settled here in Wyoming because he knew how special of a place it truly was. 

What would you say most surprises students when they arrive or during their course in the Rockies? 

I believe most are surprised by the open spaces both in and around the mountains and hence the overall scarcity of people. 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Apr 11, 2014 in the following categories: Leadership, Rocky Mountain

NOLS Hosts Wilderness 50th Photo Contest at Faculty Summit

2014 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This act, signed in 1964, created a system of designating and protecting certain areas as Wilderness (with the capital “W” that comes from Congressional designation). A Wilderness area is an area of land that is sheltered from development and conserved in its natural form for future generations to enjoy.

NOLS has classrooms in Wilderness areas at each of its domestic locations. To bring awareness to these specific spots, as well as the golden anniversary of the Act, the Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship department is hosting a Wilderness 50th Photo Contest at this year’s Faculty Summit. We are encouraging NOLS staff and instructors to submit their best photos taken in a Wilderness area.

Stay tuned for more contest details and to see the winning photo in May!

  Blog 6 pic
A NOLS classroom in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Photo: NOLS Archive

Permalink | Posted by Caitlin Camilliere on Mar 21, 2014 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Rocky Mountain



    During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Sarah Konrad made history when she became the first American woman to qualify for two sporting categories: Nordic skiing and the biathlon (pictured above). Fast forward eight years and Konrad has, for the second time, agreed to serve as an expert educational correspondent for NBC’s Emmy award-winning video series entitled, “The Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

    Konrad served as a NOLS instructor from 1986 to 1994 on courses ranging from Semesters in Patagonia and Alaska Mountaineering to Sea Kayaking and Semesters in the Rockies, and now she can be found teaching the rudiments of snow science in a different sort of classroom. The “NBC Learn” and “NBC Sports” webisode series, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, “explore the science, technology, engineering, and math at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games” and provide great visual aids for children and adults alike in learning about all of the applied science that goes into making the Olympic games run smoothly and efficiently behind the scenes. NBC’s “Learn” series also provides, “lesson plans and activities in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association.” 



     During the NBC “Learn” webisode “The Science of Snow,” Konrad, a glaciologist, conducts a brief scientific experiment in the University of Wyoming’s Geology Building using “supercooled” water and explains the freezing process of water and how it can be directly applied to ski course maintenance and race outcomes. The video also touches on the importance of snow engineering during the Winter Games. Being a former Winter Olympian as well as an accomplished academic with a PhD in geology (specializing in glaciology), Konrad’s webisode on snow science is the perfect fit for NBC’s 2014 Winter Olympic “Learn” series. Konrad is currently serving as the Chair of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Athletes Advisory Council. According to, "the AAC is responsible for broadening communication between the USOC and active athletes, and serves as a source of input and advice to the organization’s board of directors". Konrad is currently serving as the Associate Project Director for Wyoming’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Department (EPSCoR). 




Permalink | Posted by Rahel Manna on Feb 11, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, In The News, Instructor News, On The Net, Rocky Mountain

Imagine your 2014 summer

Summer is here!

Well, at least the 2014 summer NOLS course catalog is here, and that's even better, because you still have time to plan the perfect summer with NOLS.


We have boxes and boxes and boxes of the summer catalog here at NOLS Headquarters, so request one here. If you'd prefer a paperless version, we've got you covered, too. Download the iPad version of the 2014 summer catalog here.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jan 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Curriculum, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, Yukon

The 12 Days of NOLS

We’ve found the perfect way to get you into the holiday spirit and fight the cold snap with a hearty laugh. Watch NOLS Creative’s newest (and possibly goofiest) release, “The 12 Days of NOLS,” a NOLS variation on the classic tune, to get a taste of the NOLS experience or reminisce about your course! Written with extensive input from the peanut gallery, shot and edited in less than 12 hours, and brought to you with only mild shame, we now ask you to watch the video and sing along.

On the first day of my course Paul Petzoldt gave to me ...


Windpants with a reinforced knee

Two trekking poles

Three Peaks Ranch


Five pounds of cheese

Six dudes belaying

Seven miles a' shwackin’

Eight malt balls missing

Nine quickdraws clipping

Ten backpacks bulging

Eleven toasty hot drinks

Twelve students mapping

 Happy Holidays from NOLS

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Dec 10, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Yukon

NOLS' Newest Book is a Perfect Holiday Gift: Canoeing

Canoeing_300Effortlessly 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.

Nols_owned_image24_xxlRunning a section of whitewater on a river in the Yukon (Photo credit: Pascal Beauvais)

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. 

Permalink | Posted by Mike Casella on Dec 2, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, In The News, New Zealand, Northeast, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Yukon

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.  

Alexis_alloway_pnw_122Students hike and work on map skills on Ptarmigan Ridge near Mt Baker, Wash. Photo by Alexis Alloway

  • 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.

Willy_Hazlehurst_tvb_16Instructor Dennison Web (stern) and an IC student on the Owyhee River. Photo by William D. Hazlehurst.

Though public lands have re-opened, the shutdown will continue to have rippling effects as commercial outfitters try to regain the momentum they lost.



Permalink | Posted by Mike Casella on Nov 6, 2013 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, In The News, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Teton Valley

Stepping Out of the Classroom: Diversity & Inclusion at NOLS Rocky Mountain

     Here at NOLS Rocky Mountain we often see many faces in a day. Courses come in and out, they ration food, issue and de-issue, brief and debrief, eat lunches and cleanup. It’s often easy to pass by without noticing many of the people that work to keep all of the operations at the branch running smoothly.  There are two people in particular that always have a smile on their face, take due pride in their work, and perform essential functions to the branch’s operations.  Freyja del Duca and Joel Harrington are two young adults with special needs. Freyja and Joel, both Lander natives, are exemplary staff members at NOLS Rocky Mountain and they work hard to serve the thousands of students that pass through this branch every year.



    Freyja is 24 and has worked for NOLS for 5 years. You may have seen her in the Noble dining room with a white chef’s hat on and a huge smile. She also works in the issue room at the branch where she inventories and replenishes first-aid kits and repair kits. But her favorite job is in the Noble kitchen. When she began at NOLS, she worked as a prep cook’s aide. Over the past year, under the supervision of Stephanie Peterson, Freyja has been challenged to take on more and more tasks in the kitchen. She feels confident (and psyched!) to perform virtually all of the kitchen’s mainline tasks. Her work allows students and staff, while in-town, to enjoy a variety of delicious and nutritious meals.  In her free time she enjoys photography and hiking in Sinks Canyon. She hopes to take a NOLS course one day!

               One of Freyja's photos of a Lander sunset

         Joel is 26 and has worked for NOLS for 6 years. He loves telling people about the latest obscure film he’s watched, he laughs easily, and works hard. As a map aide at the Rocky Mountain branch, he has expanded in his efficiency and uses tools that the branch has developed to help him sort hundreds upon hundreds of maps.  His job involves making abstract judgments, a skill that can be transferred to a variety of tasks.


     The Rocky Mountain branch is unique in utilizing the talents and developing the skills of Lander’s special needs community and we value the important services they provide for our branch. Glenda Brannan, the Rocky Mountain branch's Office Administrator states, "she is very proud of Joel and Freyja, they are productive team members of our branch where they perform much needed and valued tasks." NOLS strives to respect, challenge and welcome people of all groups, this initiative is reflected in our diverse staff and student body.    


Permalink | Posted by Roberta Schoultz on Oct 17, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain

Clean up this weekend … anywhere!

Since 1991, Tony and Linda Brooks of Teton Village, Wyo. have invited family and friends around the country to “clean up—anytime, anywhere” to remember the earth and celebrate the life of their son Charley.

Charley graduated from a NOLS Mountaineering Course in 1990 and tragically died in a car accident soon thereafter. Since NOLS was such an important part of Charley's life, the Brooks family started the annual cleanup as a way to keep their son's memory alive while doing something good for the planet.

Charley Brooks

In addition to the cleanup, Tony and Linda also created a NOLS scholarship fund in memory of Charley, which exposes a new generation of NOLS grads each year to the wilderness skills and the conservation ethics that their son forged during his course.

Charley atop Gannet Peak.

This Saturday is the 28th, so as you begin to make weekend plans, think about what you can do to clean up in honor of a NOLS alumnus who cared passionately about the earth.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Sep 25, 2013 in the following categories: Alumni, Rocky Mountain

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