NZS 3 explore the Marlborough Sounds
After hiking they spent 28 days sea kayaking in Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, covering a total distance of 100 nautical miles. During these four weeks the curriculum was focused in leadership, sea kayaking skills, coastal camping, risk management, Leave No Trace, and environmental studies. There were many highlights from this section including sea cave paddling, local interactions with the people in the area and the sea life.
Finishing their sea kayaking section the students were able to travel independently from instructors for 2 nights and 3 days, affirmation of their sea kayaking and leadership qualities.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
Kayaking into a small town called Havelock, the students meet their sailing instructors and the 38ft keelboats "Chieftain" and "Chinook". The group spent 10 days sailing through Pelorus Sound, Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, with the students excited about having an all male and all female boat.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
The focus of this section was on sailing skills and seamanship. The course covered nautical terminology, sail theory and practice, tides and currents, weather rigging, knots, charts, navigation, and crew over board drills.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
The group finished their semester feeling very successful in their personal and group accomplishments. When looking back on all three sections they appreciated the different opportunities each skill type offered including leadership roles and personal challenge.
Graduation Day, Well done NZS3!
Earth Day Cold Frame Box Workshop at Pushroot Community Garden!
In honor of Earth Day, Pushroot will be hosting a cold frame box workshop and a number of service projects to help prepare the garden for it’s 5th season.
Cold frames are inexpensive, easy to build boxes made out of repurposed windows. They can be placed over garden beds at the beginning of the growing season to help seeds or small plants through the unpredictable conditions of spring. The windows are hinged to allow easier temperature control and ventilation, and some designs are collapsible for easier storage.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled for May 4th.
Food will be provided. We hope to see you there!
A collapsible cold frame box. This will be on display on the 27th.
Photo: Jack Fisher
Permalink | Posted by Jack Fisher on Apr 19, 2013
Taking a STEP in the Right Direction
After years spent working in the field with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Dr. Tracy Baynes made several astute observations about the students who participate in outdoor courses. They gain a tremendous amount from their time in the field. They grow by being pushed outside of their comfort zones. They have life transforming experiences. They are also, as Tracy noted, mostly wealthy and white.
Curiosity duly peaked by her findings, Tracy began to look at education statistics and noticed a huge achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. She also found that programs geared towards struggling, underprivileged youth existed but there were few— if any— programs designed to provide support to disadvantaged students who excel.
Recognizing a need, Tracy created the Student Expedition Program (STEP) in 2002 to “equip low-income, first-generation college-bound Arizona teens with the internal tools to succeed in college. Our overall goal is to help break the chain of generational poverty in the families with which we work by preparing students for success in higher education.”
“The first step to success is belief in oneself. The goal of the NOLS course is to provide students with an experience that helps them to know internally that they have what it takes to achieve whatever they want, especially recognizing that they can be a pioneer to college,” Tracy said.
Since its founding, STEP has seen all of its 112 graduates successfully complete high school, and 81 percent are in college or have graduated from college. Moreover, STEP graduates are attending some of the most well respected academic institutions in the nation including Georgetown University, Bowdoin College, Smith College, University of Notre Dame, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, University of Southern California (USC), University of Richmond, Lehigh University, and Pitzer College.
When asked about her long-term vision for STEP, Tracy said she hopes to “reach as many high-achieving, low-income students as possible and eventually turn over the leadership of the program to STEP alum.”
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.
Sierra Nevada College Students Go Deep… Into the Canyons
This May, a group of 20 Sierra Nevada College (SNC) students will leave the comfort of their mountainous California home and take part in a 21-day leadership expedition into the deep canyons of Utah.
Rosie Hackett, director of outdoor adventure leadership at Sierra Nevada College, was instrumental in establishing the partnership between NOLS and SNC. She is confident that “NOLS is the leader in outdoor education. They go the farthest and the deepest. They employ the best of the best in regard to outdoor professionals. I believe in the potency of the [NOLS] leadership curriculum.”
Equipped with a well-prepared list of objectives, Hackett approached NOLS Professional Training three years ago to discuss the creation of a custom course designed to meet her program’s needs. Specifically, she wanted students to increase their technical competence in new and challenging terrain.
“The greater the challenge, the greater the potential for growth for my leadership students,” Hackett reflected. She also ensured that course participants had the opportunity to lead, facilitate, and teach as much as possible. Finally, LNT Master Educator certification and academic requirements involving reading and writing are key components of the expedition.
Hackett explained that her Outdoor Adventure Leadership (ODAL) students have many opportunities to partake in short field expeditions. However, she noted, “Anyone can hack three days. The true learning occurs after 10 days— groups start being real with each other. They get uncomfortable with themselves and they storm. Then they get comfortable with their new ‘uncomfortable state’ and they norm. And, with a whole lot of competence, collaboration, resourcefulness, and perseverance, they perform at any task put in front of them.”
Expedition participant, Camilla Rinman, commented, “The [NOLS] course was one of the most significant experiences I have had in the outdoors.” Rinman said, "I regularly apply the mindset I gained from the course to everyday life— that I can be successful at what I want and it is possible for me to create a career doing what I love.”
Another course graduate, Savannah Hoover, shared two truths that are etched into her mind after her time in Utah: “One, love this earth and treat it well. Always consider where your resources come from and minimize your waste as much as possible. Leave every place a little better than you found it, and inspire others to do the same. Two, never forget your sense for adventure. A passion for the unknown, for the wild, can often be squelched in a world where everything is ‘already discovered.’ There's too much on this earth to explore and enjoy and protect—we must go out there and find it ourselves to witness the intrinsic value of what the wild has to offer.”
Reflecting on the benefits gained from the extended expedition, Hackett commented, “The takeaways are endless— self awareness, sustainability, endurance, and compassion just to name a few.” She went on to explain, “The greatest lessons from the field that are transferred to the frontcountry are intrinsic motivation and purpose. With motivation and purpose anything is possible!”
NZS1 and NZS2 Wrap up their semesters!
This week saw both NZS1 and NZS2 return and graduate from their spring semester here in New Zealand. Exploring a vast area of the South Island these groups got to experience many important skills that contribute to a successful expedition and learning environment. Here is a small look into their expeditions:
The final 26 days of NZS1's semester explored the Ahuriri and Temple catchments of the Southern Alps. After 2 months of travelling on water, the group were ready to stretch their legs hiking in New Zealand's backcountry and exploring a new area for NOLS NZ.
NZS1's route covered over 180km traveling through open river valley's, small pockets of native beech forest, steep tussock slopes and stretches of scree and boulder fields. Three high alpine passes were negotiated contributing to a total elevation gain of over 6000 meters!
During the hiking section the student group focused their learning on the skills needed to travel one last time on an independant expedition, culminating in a 7 day, 7 night expedition travelling independant of instructors.
NZS2's hiking section saw them travel 160km through Nelson Lakes National Park. The group travelled both on and off trail in a variety of terrain including river valleys, mountain passes and alpine ridges, tussocks and scree fields. The first 19 days of the course experienced warm sunny weather, while the remainder of the trip was overcast with some rain and wind - a New Zealand summer can expect all types of weather!
A big achievement of their hiking section was the four major passes they crossed, including an ascent of Rainbow Pass - a difficult 1970m pass above sea level. Another big achievement and highlight of their hiking section was the skills they learnt to travel independently of instructors for a 7 day expedition.
After the hiking section the group finished the last 10 days of their semester expedition returning to the Marlborough Sounds for their sailing section. Sailing from Waikawa in the Queen Charlotte sounds, they retraced their sea kayaking route out into the Cook Strait and finished up in Havelock in the Pelorous Sounds. The students achieved a good level of technical boat handling and sailing skills being able to participate in all roles on board. They also thoroughly enjoyed being back out in the Marlborough Sounds - a great way to finish their expedition!
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.
National Park Service Sets Its Sights On A Big GOAL
Since its establishment in 1916, the National Park System has grown to include more than 84 million acres tended to by 22,000 permanent, temporary, and seasonal National Park Service (NPS) employees each year.
Recognizing a need to improve management practices within the NPS, the Generating Organizational Advancement and Leadership (GOAL) Academy was first implemented in 2008 for Grand Canyon National Park employees. As of 2013, the mid-level leadership development program covers all regions in the contiguous 48 states and has enrolled three 20-person cohorts.
The GOAL Academy hopes to cultivate a comprehensive leadership management strategy to prepare the next generation of NPS leaders. The Academy also seeks to enhance NPS leadership in an effort to become one of the top places to work in the federal government.
Designed as a 10-month program, the GOAL Academy comprises five four-day training sessions, leadership coaching, and an extensive actionable group project. Each session focuses on different competencies including self-awareness, resilience, building effective teams, conflict management, leading change, executive leadership, and leveraging resources. The group project then challenges participants to put their newly gained leadership skills into practice.
To capitalize on external expertise, the GOAL Academy partners with various service providers including NOLS. Academy participants partake in a NOLS Leadership Navigation Challenge (LNC) on the final day of the first session. The LNC is a great opportunity for individuals with time constraints to take advantage of the NOLS leadership curriculum.
During the LNC, each 20-member cohort is divided into teams of five to seven and presented with a challenge designed to test the team’s ability to navigate the tension between the desire for the small group to succeed and additionally assisting in the large group’s success.
Prior to the NOLS’ element of the training, Academy goers complete the Myers-Briggs Inventory and focus on understanding the significance of group decision-making, leadership, and communication. Then, the LNC solidifies learning from the previous days and sets the foundation for building relationships as teams begin work on their group projects.
To date, the program has been very successful—it has expanded each year and 20 of the 58 current graduates have earned promotions. At the end of the ongoing cohorts, 98 National Park Service employees will be GOAL Academy graduates.
Checking In with the WMR
After weeks of wilderness medicine training, students on the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester (a.k.a. the Whammer!) were ready for another scenario, but they weren’t expecting it to be, well, real. Regardless, when one of their course mates had to be evacuated, students were calm and prepared to help. Unlike their other scenarios, this one ended with a real satellite phone call to the NOLS Evac line. Dave, the evacuated student, attributes the group’s reaction to weeks of commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Happily, Dave will be able to rejoin the group within the next week for rock climbing in southern Utah.
WMR students have now completed a month long WEMT course and a month in the slot canyons of southern Utah. While in the canyons, students practiced the medical skills they learned on their WEMT and learned the technical and decision-making skills necessary for managing risk during slot canyon travel. By the end of this section, students were able to do a technical entry into a slot canyon, including rappels and pack lowers, on their own while instructors took on the role of silent observers. According to their instructor Anna Gast, they did “phenomenally well.” The canyon section also highlighted a curriculum strong in fundamental wilderness living and travel skills, leadership, teamwork and communication.
Students are now on the Green River in Utah on the swiftwater rescue and canoe section of their course. The section began with a three-day river rescue seminar on the Yampa River in Colorado led by instructor Nate Ostis. Much of the time was spent in the water learning rescue swimming, throw bag technique, river crossing and mechanical advantage rope systems. The group will practice these skills as they travel down the Green for 12 days while also continuing their wilderness medicine scenarios on a real wilderness expedition.
Next up, students are moving on to a CPR Instructors course and finally the rock rescue section. Stay tuned for more information as the first WMR wraps up on May 2nd!
Campaign NOLS: Explaining Our Core Values, Part 3
NOLS’ core values are at the heart of our institution. Leadership, community, safety, excellence, wilderness, and education inspire everything we do. We share a commitment to these values; they define and direct who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
We believe that education should be exciting, fun, and challenging. With this in mind, our courses are designed to help people develop and practice the skills they need to live, travel, and play safely in the outdoors. On our expeditions, people learn by accepting and meeting real challenges. Our instructors are educators, not guides. They are committed to inspiring students to explore and develop their understanding of wilderness ethics, leadership, teamwork, natural history, and technical skills.
Rachael Abler on Education
In 2011, after pursuing a Master’s degree in recreation, I started making calls to numerous collegiate outdoor recreation programs. I found myself hearing one thing that would help me make it in the industry from each and every coordinator, director, graduate assistant, intern, etc.: NOLS. At that, my mind was made up. NOLS, here I come!
The Pacific Northwest Outdoor Educator Course allowed me to develop technical skills in mountaineering and rock climbing while growing as an outdoor educator. Like many people, I was at the point of my life where, after obtaining two college degrees, I did not have much disposable income. But, thanks to the NOLS scholarship program, I had the opportunity to spend 30 days in the backcountry learning who I was, what I was capable of, and transforming myself into a better person for the rest of my life.
The outdoor experiences throughout the course of my life have allowed me to become the person who I am today, and I hold the strongest regard for the 30 days spent on my NOLS course. It is easy in our technological age to go through life without placing ourselves in situations that allow us to see our true potential. I believe there is nothing more powerful than immersing oneself in outdoors and that there is nothing like making personal accomplishments in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Without such educational experiences, how can anyone possibly know what they are capable of?
NOLS is responsible for impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. Whether the impact is teaching leadership and teamwork qualities, exposing people to new worlds, or offering career advancement opportunities with wilderness medicine, outdoor educator, and instructor courses. No matter what the case, the result is always the same—NOLS changes lives.
My own ability to attend a NOLS course is attributed to the philanthropic efforts of those who came before me. As a donor, I am honored to join the fraternity of individuals who place value in continued education and outdoor leadership development for all who have the drive to pursue it. It is a privilege to give back to the organization that gave so much to me through support of Campaign NOLS. My hope is that many more future leaders and educators can reap similar benefits.
The view from Mt. Baker.
Rachael Abler is a 2012 Pacific Outdoor Educator graduate, scholarship recipient and a donor.
To learn more about Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values or to donate, visit giving.nols.edu.