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!
Get to Know NOLS Pacific Northwest
Curious about the Pacific Northwest? Chris Agnew, NOLS Pacific Northwest director, has a great deal of insight to offer. Read our recent Q&A session with him to learn more about the region and NOLS courses there.
Our staff are smart, multi-talented, and passionately focused on creating positive and challenging learning experiences for our students in wild and remote places.
How long have you been Branch Director at NOLS Pacific Northwest?
Three and a half years—it correlates almost perfectly with the age of my oldest child!
What is your background with NOLS? Or how did it all begin for you?
As I was growing up, my father would always mention this organization in Wyoming suggesting I should take a course with them at some point. In college I was considering different study abroad opportunities and considered an international semester with NOLS as well. Having grown up backpacking and climbing with my family in the western U.S., I was attracted to a NOLS course that would take me far from my experience and have a strong cultural emphasis.
I ultimately chose a Semester in Kenya. The extended time in the wilderness, authentic leadership opportunities, and immersive cultural experiences I gained on my course were life changing. It gave me and two friends I made on the course the confidence and skills to travel across Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda following our semester. It also lit a spark for me in the field of education.
Three years later, I finished undergraduate and took my Instructor Course.
What is your favorite aspect of running courses in the Pacific Northwest?
Courses in the Pacific Northwest are unique in so many ways: The proximity of high, rugged alpine to ocean. Large, urban areas being so close to wild, remote, and rarely visited wilderness. Challenging weather, engaging terrain, countless glaciers, and deep lush vegetation. The Pacific Northwest is special.
The powerful ocean, steep mountains, and challenging weather can be intimidating to students at first. Through time in these wild places and excellent coaching by our faculty, by the end of a course our students return feeling at home and comfortable in this formidable landscape.
Where else would you want to be?
What would you say most surprises students when they arrive or during their course in that part of the world?
Access to our campus and our stunning classrooms is unparalleled. With our campus only a little over one hour from Sea-Tac airport and only having to travel as little as 90 minutes from our campus before they start hiking, we can maximize learning and time in the field rather than getting from here to there.
NZS 1 & 3 Transition
New Zealand Semester One transitioned today from Sea Kayaking to Hiking. They successfully completed their exposed Sea Kayak route from Picton to Waimaru in the Marlborough Sounds.
They spent the day at the NOLS NZ base and are about to head out Hiking in the Kahurangi National Park for the third and final section of their semester.
New Zealand Semester Three transitioned from Hiking to Sea Kayak today.
They spent the first section of their semester hiking in the Kahurangi National Park.
They are off Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds, then go straight into their Sailing section.
NZS-3 students will not return to NOLS NZ between their Sea Kayak and Sailing section.
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) students studying Adventure Tourism, came out to the NOLS NZ base during the transition to observe and get a taste of what NOLS is about.
Good luck out there everyone!
Australia Spring semester students take off for an outback adventure
Last week saw our NOLS Australia base transformed into a hub of activity, with the first course of the season preparing to embark on a journey into the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The 15 students on this course travelled from all over the United States, to congregate in the tiny town of Broome. For some students the tropical climate came as a stark contrast to the freezing temperatures of their hometowns in the US. The heat, however, did nothing to dampen their spirits as they got stuck into two full days of rations and equipment preparation.
Day 1 began with an early pick up in town, a brief tour of the base then straight into bagging 75 days worth of rations. With the support of in-town staff and their awesome Instructor team (Jim, Dale and Kurt), students were able to complete the bagging process before lunch. After lunch, the ration process continued with sorting and weighing of the entire 2000 pounds of dry food! The highlight of the afternoon included a visit to the Broome crocodile park – where students learnt the important differences between freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.
Day 2 saw students delving into their packs and planning their equipment needs for both the canoeing and hiking sections. Total weights for the entire load of gear and food was finalised before lunch – excellent work! A high level of efficiency and organization from Instructors and the group enabled them to kick back and relax in the pool for the afternoon, whilst setting themselves up for a successful expedition with a class on creating a positive learning environment.
Day 3 - An early breakfast and a celebration of Nick's Birthday was followed by one final check around the base, then time to leave...
The entire group, all the food and the equipment was loaded into several fixed wing aircraft and headed north for a spectacular 2-hour scenic flight up to Drysdale River Station, where the real adventure begins!
The group will spend the next 40 days following the path of the Drysdale River as it flows through thickets of tropical rainforest, pours over spectacular waterfalls and meanders along the open savannah. Students will learn technical canoeing skills along with the leadership skills to live comfortably in the Kimberley wilderness.
Upon completion of the canoeing section, students will take to the rugged mountains of the Drysdale region by foot. The start of a new adventure…
A brief outline of their schedule is provided below:
Canoeing section – Drysdale River
9 March – 17 April
Students will be resupplied by helicopter on April 17th
NO access to any outside communication devices is available during that time.
Hiking section, Drysdale River National Park
17 April – 12 May
Students will most likely be in Broome for the night of May 12th
Pay phone access may be available.
13- 19 May
Students will be in Broome, for the final night of the semester on May 19th
Pay phone access may be available.
On May 20th students will graduate, celebrate and then get dropped at their accommodation for the evening.
For those wishing to send mail, students will only be able to receive it on the following dates - May 12th and May 19th - address details provided below;
PO Box 3472
Broome 6725 WA
Please be mindful that we are a long way off the beaten path, therefore, if you would like something to arrive before these dates, be sure to allow at least 2 weeks for delivery!
Remember to check this Blog site for updates and photos around those contact dates. You are also welcome to share this link with your friends and family!
Cheers from the NOLS Australia crew
Glaciers, Climate Change, and the National Park System
In the North Cascades, scientists are hard at work analyzing glaciers to evaluate the impacts of climate change. In this visually stunning video, Dr. Jon Riedel, lead glaciologist at North Cascades National Park, discusses and interprets his glacier monitoring research.
Many National Park Service employees got their start learning how to safely travel through and lead others in terrain just like this video on a North Cascades Mountaineering or Outdoor Educator Mountaineering course.
NZS-2 Sea Kayak to Hike
The second New Zealand semester had a great time in the sea kayaking section.
They did an amazing job circumnavigating D’Urville Island in the Marlborough sounds, this group is the first Sea Kayak group ever in the NOLS New Zealand history to accomplish this nautical challenge, well done team!
At the NOLS New Zealand base they left sea kayaks behind and got ready their hiking boots and backpack to adventure in a mission in the New Zealand bush (like the locals will say).
The group got their gear ready and hiked out of the branch to the Richmond forest park mountain range. At this moment the group is in the Nelson Lakes national park hiking through Beech forest and Alpine terrain.
NZB Graduation 1 & 2
Both groups successfully completed a mutli night independent student group expedition where they were able to put their newly learned skills to the test. A highlight from the course was camping and traveling through snow in the alpine environment.
One student commented that "it was an amazing opportunity to share this experience with a group of people my own age'. When asked if they would ever go hiking again thay all eagerly said that they intended to.
Students enjoyed the fresh produce the Nelson region has to offer especially the fruit and home made pesto, it made a welcome change to the NOLS ration.
Good luck out there NZB students, make good decisions
All the best with your next adventures from the
NOLS NZ community
Gannett Peak third graders recycle with NOLS
“What happens to all the trash in the landfills?” a Gannet Peak Elementary School third grader asked me. Her classmate helped her out and shouted, “It gets INCINERATED!!” A group of eight- and nine-year olds shrieked and giggled with excitement in the Sinks Canyon State Park Visitors Center. They were out for the day on their monthly visit to the park, where they listen to ecology lessons from park rangers, explore hiking trails on foot or snowshoe, and have special guests from local organizations come visit. I was the lucky visitor this time, ready to teach these kids all about recycling and what it means to be a good steward.
But first, it was lunchtime. Amongst the PB&J-smeared smiles, I suggested that before they throw anything away, they put potential recyclables in a bag off to the side. This exercise got their brains churning and the questions flowing. We gathered in a circle and I held up each piece of lunchtime packaging and asked whether or not it could be recycled. We searched for numbers 1-7 on the plastics, noted whether or not the cardboard qualified, and considered why there were recycling symbols on some things and not on others.
We sorted the items into proper boxes through a frenzied game of recycling basketball. Then after some good hugs and laughs, they were on their merry way for an afternoon hike.
- Plastics #s 1-7
- Mixed paper, pressboard, white office paper
- Egg cartons, toilet paper rolls
- Aluminum cans
- Corrugated cardboard
- Aluminum foil, tin/steel cans
- Glass bottles
Radio Stars: NOLS Southwest Course
Odessa, Texas NPR affiliate KXWT interviewed NOLS Southwest instructors and students before they hit the river Monday morning. The instructors shared their passion and believe in a NOLS education with Marfa Public Radio, and the students rattled of the many reasons they were there and goals they have for their Spring Semester in the Southwest.
Listen to the interview here.
The NOLS Marketing Internship: Playing Outdoors Is Part of the Job!
(NOLS Intern, Rahel Manna, learning how to sail from NOLS Instructor, Rachel Silverstein, in Baja California Sur, Mexico.)
Aristotle was once quoted as saying, "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work". I couldn't agree more. Everyday I have been enthusiastically working hard for the National Outdoor Leadership School for that exact reason.
Hi! My name is Rahel and I am the new PR & Marketing Intern at NOLS Headquarters. When I initially walked into the NOLS Headquarters building I was sweaty-palm nervous. Every corner of every floor of “Headquarters” bloomed with cool office space that directly reflected the creative energy of the NOLS culture I’d heard so much about.
I knew that NOLS Headquarters was going to be an amazing Energy Star certified building, having previously read about the rooftop garden and attention to detail with the architectural process, but nothing prepared me for the endless amounts of sweet outdoor recreation paraphernalia that I found inside, or the Tibetan prayer flags, or the huge amount of plants and the smiling faces everywhere. One day I even stumbled upon a newly erected teepee on the second floor, “that bad boy is to be used for power naps” as one of my coworkers hilariously put it. Yeah, Headquarters is fun.
As my supervisor Jeanne O’Brien gave me a welcoming tour to introduce me to everyone, I quickly realized that I was one lucky son of a gun. The idea of being the “new kid” in any professional work environment is usually daunting and nerve racking, especially if that professional work environment is full of accomplished and devoted individuals working for one of the top nonprofits in the nation. Thankfully, it didn’t take long before I realized everyone I would be working with was humble and helpful and friendly above all.
Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic when I learned that my NOLS internship would entail much more than sitting in front of a computer typing my heart out. While working at NOLS I quickly learned that I have “in-office” work and I have “out-of-office” work, two totally different things.
Ill start with some of the rad “out-of-office” work I’ve been able to experience with NOLS since starting my internship two months ago. From the time I was told that I was chosen as the new Marketing & PR intern, I was encouraged by O’Brien to take a NOLS course for a more comprehensive understanding of the NOLS culture and mission. After going through the NOLS course enrollment process, I hopped on a plane and headed out to NOLS Mexico to start my new NOLS course: Baja Coastal Sailing. Rough, I know.
(Our NOLS Drascombe Sailboats anchored in the Sea of Cortes)
I spent the first month of my internship on this NOLS course being trained in sail theory and application, leadership development, and environmental studies by four incredible NOLS instructors. As part of a group of 11 students, I sailed 90 miles down the Sea of Cortes in Baja California Sur, Mexico. I experienced the most liberating and educational three weeks of my life on those sailboats and secluded beaches, and it has helped me in my position as an intern immensely. Nature demands responsibility. Most internship supervisors are not concerned with encouraging their trainees to go on an amazing educational backcountry adventure for three weeks to better train themselves, but most internship supervisors aren’t as personable and intelligent as O’Brien.
Two days after my course ended in sunny and tropical Mexico, I was really stoked to walk through the front doors of NOLS Headquarters and start the second month of my internship in sunny and snowy Lander. Within the first week of working in the office, I was given an exciting “out-of-office” assignment to report on the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race that runs annually through beautiful South Pass in the Wind River Range. I acted as a photographer at the event and interviewed some of the mushers, but more importantly I spent the first half of my work shift outdoors under the beautiful Wyoming sun learning about dog sledding and having a blast in the snow.
Another fun “out-of-office” opportunity involved me shadowing NOLS instructors at NOLS Rocky Mountain and learning first-hand about the instructors’ role in gear issuing and food rationing with newly arrived students pre-course—valuable knowledge for any person interested in becoming an instructor one day. NOLS students facing a semester course ask a lot of really great questions, so it was awesome to witness knowledgeable instructors answer all of their questions and help students figure out how to get their gear on and off properly. We also focused on other important pre-course preparation activities like helping students learn to weigh and bag their expedition rations for the first week of their course. Being able to shadow and train under NOLS instructors while they are with their students was super valuable in helping me develop my knowledge base as an aspiring NOLS instructor.
My in-office work is equally as awesome because I am learning tons of professional knowledge about marketing and PR, and I work with ridiculously thoughtful and fun staff. Since arriving I have learned how to professionally write and send out press releases thanks to the training I received from coworkers like Mike Casella and Casey Adams. I’ve also been able to publish fun blog pieces on the NOLS Blog, the most recent of which covers a former NOLS instructor turned Olympian. Throughout my internship I’ve been able to sit in on important conference calls during regular team meetings where we work on new projects and build on innovative team ideas from the ground up. It is thrilling to be able to be part of a winning team like the NOLS Marketing department and learn the ropes first-hand. The marketing skills I am gaining are invaluable, and my in-office training is exactly the type of professional knowledge I was hoping to attain during my internship.
In two weeks, the other interns and I are looking forward to a day full skiing provided by NOLS at White Pine Ski resort as part of a “Wellness Day” that all NOLS staff partake in. A few short weeks after that we will have a second “Wellness Day,” offering free transportation to a discounted day at the world's largest mineral hot springs located in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Not too shabby aye?
My NOLS internship never feels like a desk job, mostly because my supervisor has always encouraged me to go out and partake in outdoor recreation on my lunch breaks and weekends, or even take the day off if the weather is especially nice and workload isn’t high. As I am typing this very blog I have been informed that NOLS Headquarters will shut down an hour early today so we can all “get out the skis and snowboards and have a fun weekend playing in the snow!” Yeah. My job really sucks. Gotta’ go play in the snow now! See ya!
Permalink | Posted by Rahel Manna on Mar 4, 2014