In-Town Staff Value Out-of-Office Play
It's no secret that NOLS is a great place to work. Listed in Outside Magazine's "100 Best Places to Work" for the last six years, NOLS has been recognized nationally for its commitment to outdoor education and encouraging a good work-life balance. [Read more on this recognition here.]
NOLS employees are allowed to work flexible schedules so they can get outside and play. Many staff members at NOLS take advantage of this perk. With support from supervisors, employees can take time out of the workday to participate in community-wide lunchtime bike rides, climb at the local crag or complete individual training regimens.
The organization also takes that support a step further by encouraging staff to participate in races and multi-day events, even when these events take place on weekdays. NOLS employees are participating in outdoor ventures all over the world but are also playing roles in Wyoming’s growing adventure race scene.
For example, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute employees Kira Gilman, Jill Moeller, and Anna Horn entered and competed in the inaugural REV3 Casper Strong Full Day Adventure Race at their supervisor's urging.
The team members cheered each other through a series of unique and entertaining events in Casper, Wyoming. The Casper Strong race was a team effort and these three ladies bonded while tackling challenges along the course.
Gilman began the race for WMI’s team with a 12-mile trail run and then completed an archery section on top of Casper Mountain. Moeller then competed in the next leg of the race, mountain-biking and carrying a 50-pound salt block uphill. Finally, Horn tubed a whitewater section of the North Platte River to the finish line.
This winning team returned to the office with Casper Strong belt buckles and many stories to share.
"It was fun to have my supervisor encourage me to try something new and challenge myself. The push I receive from co-workers to pursue personal goals and well-being outside of the office is a huge part of what has made working in-town for NOLS sustainable for me," Horn reflected.
NOLS is committed to continuing its support and encouragement of employee wellness—a key ingredient in what makes the school an awesome place to work!
That's Not the NOLS Bus!
The Monday morning walk to work was a little different for NOLS Headquarters employees this week, as they were greeted by a 1970 Crown bus at the building entrance.
Three men campaigning for Wyoming Democrat Charlie Hardy for U.S. Senate made their way to 284 Lincoln St. in Lander this morning. Hardy is a Wind River Wilderness ‘75 graduate, and Bruce Wilkinson, owner of this campaign bus, is a Wilderness First Responder.
Nick, Felix, and Bruce greeted NOLS staff as they arrived at work this morning. Jeanne O'Brien photo
Wilkinson spoke of Hardy’s connection to nature and desire to create a better future drawing him to NOLS. Wilkinson, bus driver Nick Brasheer, and fellow campaigner Felix Agulto share Hardy’s outdoor interests as well as his political views and made plans to hike around Sinks Canyon this afternoon before hitting the road for Wright, Wyoming.
NOLS Supports Cowboy Tough Adventure Race In its Second Year
The Cameco and City of Casper Cowboy Tough Expedition Race from Lander to Casper, Wyoming is back for a second year! Once again, NOLS is a major sponsor of this event.
NOLS will support this event by providing WEMTs trained by the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI). These WEMTs will join the medical crew and help support racers along the 330- to 400-mile race course. They’ll travel in cars scanning the course and using their training to provide medical attention racers need along the course.
Held in Wyoming’s backcountry, this one-of-a-kind adventure race challenges individuals and teams to test their limits. The race terrain is rugged and wild.
The race consists of multiple activities including trekking, mountain biking, paddling, white water rafting, ropes and additional team challenges.
Teams will start the three-and-a-half-day race in a genuine ghost town— South Pass City. Each day of the race is broken down into different sections that racers are given 16 to 24 hours to complete.
In this adventure race, there are mandatory checkpoints each day. For those who want a bit more out of the race, there are optional checkpoints to give elite racers an additional challenge. After feedback from last year, this year’s race was designed to be even more difficult.
Racers compete in two categories: competitive and those who just want to finish. For competitive racers, this event serves as a national qualifying race for the North American Adventure Racing Series (NAARS).
Last year, NOLS sent a team to compete in the full race. This year, NOLS is sending a team of WMI representatives (Kira Gilman, Anna Horn and Jill Moeller) to the Casper Strong Adventure Race.
The Casper Strong Adventure Race is a separate event that will be held on July 19 at Crossroads Park. This day-long adventure race will include the following disciplines: trail run, archery, mountain biking and white-water tubing.
NOLS has been taking students into Wyoming’s backcountry for 50 years and is excited to support an event that encourages people to visit wild places.
This event also aligns with NOLS’ values of assessing risks, developing tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, and minimizing risks associated with recreational activities.
Not Just a Building in Town
The Lander Cycling Club hosted the fifth annual Fremont Area Road Tour in NOLS’ hometown of Lander, Wyoming last weekend, and the NOLS presence coursing throughout the event was prevalent.
As a participant and NOLS employee, I found it exciting to see the people I work with and the organization I work for playing such an important role in an activity I enjoy in my personal time.
For months, I’ve been watching our own senior graphic designer Sam Pede coordinate the event, and when I thanked her, she was quick to pass credit to others at NOLS for lifting the tour to a professional level. Pede noted the efforts of PR and Partnerships Manager in organizing Wilderness First Responders to provide SAG support for the event. She said having those folks riding the various courses was essential. Among these skilled WMI grads was NOLS Social Media Coordinator Jared Steinman, who also took countless photos to capture the sense of community, enjoyment, and dedication out of the road (including all photos used in this blog post).
Also aiding riders out on the road, which included many NOLS staff and grads, was one item no cyclist will undervalue: food. The Gulch of NOLS Rocky Mountain donated heaps of food to be placed at aid stations around the county. It was a delightful day out there touring Fremont County, and it was even more special to see, once again, how important community events like these are to NOLS.
NOLS at the LEED Platinum celebration in Billings, Montana!
WMI Director Melissa Gray and Assistant Director Shana Tarter represented NOLS at a LEED Platinum celebration hosted by High Plains Architects in Billings, MT. High Plains Architects were the lead designers for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. In addition to a recognition certificate from the Montana chapter of the USGBC, representatives for Montana Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, and a representative for Governor Steve Bullock shared words of support for sustainable building.
* LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project. http://www.usgbc.org/leed
"Every once in awhile, a rare opportunity comes along to work with a client who not only shares your values but challenges you to strive for more ambitious goals," the High Plains website states on a page about the Wyss Campus. "For us, that was the National Outdoor Leadership School. They selected High Plains Architects to closely work with them to spearhead designing the state of the art, high performance Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus outside of Lander, Wyoming."
This campus was designed to at once have minimal impact upon the beautiful setting and include outdoor and indoor classroom space for wilderness medicine students. So far, 618 students in 26 courses have been educated in (and outside) these remarkable facilities. You can learn more about all the campus has to offer in this video:
Congratulations and thanks, High Plains Architects!
WMI Works to Reduce Paper Usage
The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute hosts 750 courses around the world each year. WMI offers courses for students interested in gaining practical knowledge in backcountry emergency and medical care. Teaching sessions are divided into classroom time and outdoor emergency scenarios. Outside of class, students study hard using their course books. Instructors get packets too, containing logistical information, exams, and quizzes. While WMI instructors are teaching cutting edge curriculum and facilitating lifelike medical scenarios in stunning backcountry settings, folks in the WMI office are fine-tuning another critical component of their courses: the paperwork. Staff took the time to rethink their paper usage in forms and exams with the goal of reducing waste.
To accomplish this, WMI asked a group of instructors to identify what they were and were not using in their packets. Over the years, extra pages have been added into the packet in response to demand. Instructors pointed out the sections of the course packets commonly overlooked or not used, and eliminated those sections. For example, thirty-five pages from the two-day WFA course were removed. That is a 17,500-page reduction for this course type in one year! This will cut down on shipping weight and reduce the amount of paper recycled or thrown away.
More often than not, Wilderness EMT students arrive at their course with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and computers and Internet access are available where courses are taught. Transition from paper to electronic tests and quizzes within the WEMT program has been especially beneficial. The paper usage been reduced by 12,500 pieces of paper per year. Instructors also have more flexibility to review exams and identify patterns in performance using item analysis features within the online platform. With this new ability, instructors can eliminate questions or choose to focus more time on certain subject material.
WMI has reassessed their paper usage for every course type. In all, this is expected to save nearly 60,000 pieces of paper annually, the equivalent of a twenty-foot tall stack of paper! This paper reduction movement is another exciting step in the school’s sustainability journey.
Congratulations to our Olympian!
Holly Brooks (WFA ’02 and WFR ’04) completed her second race in the Olympics today, and everyone at NOLS would like to congratulate her on all she has accomplished as an athlete. In her second Olympics, the Alaskan placed 35th in the women’s 10k classic today after taking 47th in the skiathlon Saturday.
Brooks in action during the FIS Cross Country World Cup Women's 10km Mass Start on December 17, 2011 in Rogla, Slovenia. (Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Skiing is not just a race for Holly. In her free time, she admits, she likes to ski—ski tour, crust ski and backcountry ski. According to her biography on the U.S. Ski Team website, she has become a poster child for active, healthy lifestyles in her new home of Alaska.
“Luckily I live in a place where the outdoors are extremely accessible, and I love living in a community where my friends and peers are as active and adventurous as I am,” she said.
NOLS is proud to have played a role in the life of someone making such a difference while following her dreams. Congratulations, Holly!
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
If you keep an eye on the NOLS blog, you will have noticed the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus (WWMC) popping up time and time again. From breaking ground in Red Canyon two years ago to the transformation into a fully functioning campus, it has been an exciting journey. NOLS, along with High Plains Architects, P.C., is proud to announce the most recent milestone in that journey. As of December 3, 2013, the WWMC is LEED® Platinum certified.
The WWMC is certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation v2009 rating system. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, ratings take into account six main categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. In obtaining this certification, the WWMC became the second building in Lander to receive a LEED certification and the fifth building in Wyoming to receive a LEED Platinum certification.
At NOLS, we foster a culture of sustainability in which environmentally responsible decisions are an integral part of life. The WWMC was designed with these values in mind. The campus is highly water and energy efficient and is well adapted to its arid environment. Additionally, students are encouraged to make decisions and behavioral changes that minimize their footprints while at the campus and in their everyday lives. Together with other NOLS facilities around the world, we are part of a truly global effort to promote sustainability.
You can read more about this achievement here, and more about NOLS’ commitment to sustainability and stewardship here. To all the folks who helped us reach this goal, thank you and congratulations! We did it!