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.
Saag with Tofu - The NOLS Cooking Show
Submitted by Geoffrey Journeay-Kaler, NOLS Rocky Mountain
No matter where your pack takes you, you can enjoy the foods of the world over a Whisperlite Stove. This version of the Indian dish saag paneer replaces the paneer with tofu, but if you have brought a white cheese into the backcountry, using that instead of tofu would be a great option as well. The Mexican cheese, queso fresco, is a great replacement for paneer.
A backpacking version of saag is surprisingly easy, far easier than making it indoors, actually.
¼ cup water
¼ tsp curry powder
2 pinches salt
1 slice dried tofu
2 tsp oil
1 ½ cups freeze-dried spinach
1/3 cup freeze-dried tomato chunks
¼ cup powdered whole milk
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ Tbs oil
Mix together the curry powder, salt and water. Add in the tofu and let it soak up all of the liquid. While the tofu is rehydrating, put the spinach into a bowl. Add in the tomato chunks and whole milk power.
Back to the tofu: heat the 2 tsp of oil on medium heat. Add the tofu. Fry on all sides until it is browned and crispy. Chop the fried tofu up and set it aside for later.
Heat the 1 ½ Tbs of oil, add all the spices at once, and fry them briefly on medium low heat. Don't let them burn!
Add in the rehydrated spinach, tomatoes and milk.
Stir the saag up, break up any clumps of spinach that did not fully rehydrate with your spatula and distribute the saag evenly across the pan.
Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and add the tofu. Stir together. Cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes allowing the tofu to soak up some of the liquid.
Serve over basmati rice, on bread or solo. Serves 1-2 with the rice.
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.
NOLS grad dines with strangers
NOLS holds both breakfast and communication in high regard. 1995 Semester in Mexico graduate Matt Webber is taking these two principles to a new level and across the U.S. this year.
Matt Webber and Courtney Dillard write on their website, www.breakfastwithstrangers.com, that they embarked on a breakfasting journey across the nation to remind readers that we are all part of the same community.
“America is polarized,” the website states. “We feel that part of this civic problem is the lack of strangers connecting with strangers. We want to change this—or at least challenge it in our own small way—by taking strangers out to breakfast across America. We’ll share local diner fare and conversation, learning what our new friends think about life’s big and little questions.”
They settled on breakfast in large part because that’s where they were when the idea struck. The setting has proved to be perfect for comfortable conversations: “breakfast is something that feels like home to most folks … which certainly helps when you’re asking a total stranger to breakfast,” Matt explained.
They share each conversation on the website with the intention of selecting 50 to compile in a book: Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals Across America.
“We’ll be reaching out to these strangers in a variety of different methods, from social media to want ads to community ads to just grabbing somebody as they’re about to sit down to their meal,” Matt explains in a video on the site.
One of those strangers was NOLS Alumni and Development Director Pip Coe.
“Pip, like many of these breakfasts we’re having, was by pure chance,” said Matt. “I always knew her name as I had seen her photo over the years in various NOLS catalogs, but we didn’t roll into town with the plan of taking her out to breakfast.”
After meeting her in the NOLS building and then running into her on the street in Lander, the two decided they had to take her out for breakfast.
“Someone like Pip who has so much experience not just in the field but also a deep history with NOLS seemed like a perfect person to represent Lander, Wyoming,” Matt concluded.
NOLS played a role in Matt being back in Lander on this occasion.
“I feel like my semester with NOLS has had some influence on most of all my decisions or passions I’ve pursued since then,” Matt said. “When it has come to travel, or loading my backpacking, planning with Courtney to leave our home and travel around in a van for five months to take strangers out to breakfast—well, my semester at NOLS had a role with that, too.”
Strike up a conversation with a stranger today or get in touch with Matt and Courtney and let them take you out for breakfast in your hometown at email@example.com, (304) 50-MEALS or 3519 NE 15th Ave (Box #300), Portland, OR 97212.
Thanks, Two Leaves
Two Leaves tea company has a clear dedication to connecting its customers and employees to the natural world. Their thoughtfulness extends beyond their circle and into ours. Once again, Two Leaves is generously donating 1 percent of its Alpine Berry Tea Sachet sales to the NOLS scholarship fund. Were it not for the commitment of people like Two Leaves Founder and CEO and former NOLS instructor Richard Rosenfeld, NOLS would not be able to give over $1.5 million in financial aid annually.
Last week, Food Spring noted the quality of Two Leaves tea and the generosity of the organization, and we, too, would like to say thank you.
Gans named Champion of Change by the White House
Here at NOLS Headquarters, we all know and love John Gans, NOLS executive director for the past 16 years. He is the sort of leader who remembers the interns’ names and every staff member’s latest venture. He brings a passion to what we do at NOLS every day when he walks through the door. We’ve long known he’s a hero who leads our effort in changing the world for the better.
We were joined in our belief by the White House this week. Gans was named a Champion of Change, selected as one of 11 from over 1,500 nominees to be recognized this week.
“This group was chosen because they embody the spirit and mission of the Champions of Change program—to recognize ordinary Americans across the country who are doing extraordinary things in their communities,” a statement from the White House Champions of Change program said.
John’s nomination letter documented the extraordinary difference he has made here at NOLS, as well as the difference NOLS has been able to make thanks to him:
John [has] championed significant change during his tenure, shifting the focus of the school from purely a wilderness education school to a leadership school, and furthering the concepts of environmental stewardship that made NOLS the pioneering developer of the Leave No Trace curriculum. So now, not only are we reconnecting youth with the great outdoors, teaching them environmental ethics through our Leave No Trace curriculum and a simpler lifestyle, teaching them active outdoor skills, and engaging them on topics such as natural history, biology, and other sciences, but most importantly, we are formally teaching students how to be leaders.
You can read John’s biography and blog on the White House website now.
Video: Pre-expedition excitement
Last week, Erica Wynn posted a video expressing her thoughts the night before her Alaska Backpacking course. Among her sentiments was gratitude to NOLS and Gateway Partner GirlTrek for making this course possible.
Wynn is a GirlTrek Trailblazer Fellow. This program entails “intensive training, community service, targeted advocacy, and an all-expense paid health adventure [like Wynn’s NOLS course].” Trailblazers spend the yearlong fellowship telling their stories and serving as healthy role models in their communities. Wynn has been sharing her thoughts leading up to her NOLS course on the GirlTrek website and YouTube.
In Wynn’s words, “I'm reppin' GirlTrek on a 30-day backpacking trip in Alaska with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). I leave June 13, 2012 and when I return, I'll spend a year telling my story to students in my community.”
But she started telling her NOLS story before she left. In this great video, Wynn tells about how she came to be hours away from a NOLS Alaska Backpacking course and what she feels in the moment.
Faculty Summit kicks off with clinics
The second annual NOLS Faculty Summit kicked off today, with clinics up and down Sinks Canyon outside Lander. Both the river crossing clinic and rock rescue clinic kicked off early in the morning, and the afternoon included a Tyrolean traverse clinic.
Our pants are flapping in the wind! The famous NOLS wind pants mark the location of the majority o the Summit events, Sinks Canyon Center. Kyle Duba photo
The river crossing clinic, led by NOLS Director of Risk Management Drew Leemon, provided instructors with an opportunity to discuss and practice NOLS accepted field practices across the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.
Meanwhile, the daylong rock rescue clinic gave new and experienced instructors alike the chance to learn and conduct a variety of rescues on the rock walls of the canyon.
The afternoon was rounded out with a clinic on the Tyrolean traverse, a means of transporting equipment or people over an obstacle—in this case, a river. You can also find a video of this venture on County 10.
Each of these clinics was led by NOLS faculty and executed in a safe and fun environment. Over the next three days, the participants will delve into workshops and lectures by experts in the outdoor industry as part of the Summit. Keep an eye on NOLS.TV for videos of the week’s events if you weren’t able to attend in person.