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Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Wyss Campus Acquires More LEED Certifications

To have a LEED certification is an honorable feat in the world of sustainability. A product of the U.S. Green Building Council, the multi-tiered LEED certification system has been a pioneer and leader in sustainable building initiatives around the world. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes responsible building designs and practices. In pursuit of sustainability, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) has jumped on the LEED train and is successfully taking the school toward a greener future.

On Jan. 22, 2015, the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus received one gold and five platinum LEED certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council for their caretaker house and student housing units, respectively. These high-end certifications echoed the standard that the Wyss Campus set when the educational facility became LEED Platinum certified in November of 2013. Over the course of about 18 months, the project team focused on a variety of details to achieve the six recent certifications, and the result is worthy of admiration.

Residences are Sustainable and Stylish

Certifying these residences is absolutely an accomplishment as far as the environment is concerned. Not only are the facilities designed to work with the elements that they are set in, but they also create a learning opportunity for the students who spend time in them.

“For many students, this is their first opportunity to live in a building that requires active engagement. After a month at the Wyss Campus, students are more likely to reach for the window than the thermostat to manage comfort,” noted WMI Assistant Director Shana Tarter.   

The environmentally friendly components of the student housing on the Wyss Campus encourage students to appreciate and pursue greener practices.

The positive impact of this achievement resonates beyond the NOLS community, as NOLS is now a leader in LEED Platinum certification within the state of Wyoming. With LEED Platinum being the highest of certifications, the Wyss Campus has set a wonderful example for other groups seeking to build green.

A Beautiful Addition to the Campus

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Mar 4, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

WMI Hosts Annual Staff Meeting


This week, NOLS Wilderness Medicine professionals flocked to Lander from near and far for the annual Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) staff meeting. 

Along with a large group of Lander residents, there were attendees from Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Eastern states. Those who traveled far were staying at the cabins at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, which is one of six LEED Platinum certified buildings in Wyoming.

This diverse group came together for continuing education opportunities in wilderness medicine. The schedule for the meeting includes medical professionals discussing how to best treat patients in the backcountry. Earlier this week, a three-day EMT refresher course was held for those looking to recertify their skills. On Thursday night, participants could take part in a CPR recertification class.


Yesterday morning, WMI Director Melissa Gray officially kicked off this three-day meeting with updates on the state of the school. She ran through some important facts about the past year at WMI.

Courses run this year were up 3.5 percent. Students took WMI courses as stand alone courses and as part of field courses. Many classes were taught through Landmark Learning and at REI stores. Two hundred and fifty instructors taught classes with the help of 22 support staff members in the office.

Today, topics will include: wilderness toxicology, dislocations, and neurological injuries. Forums are scheduled with the NOLS Executive Director team and the annual WMI curriculum forum. 

The meeting will conclude on Saturday with a hypothermia session and outdoor activities. Participants will choose between ALS skills, technical rescue skills and hiking.

WMI is looking forward to the start of another great year! 

Permalink | Posted by Kim Freitas on Sep 5, 2014 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Colorado Mountain Club and the WRMC

The 21st annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) is only a few months away, and we are beyond excited to get our wonderful WRMC community together once again. We thought we’d highlight some of the organizations that continually attend the WRMC and ask them why they send staff to the conference year after year.

We caught up with Brenda Porter, director of member and volunteer engagement at Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) in Golden, Colorado, and asked her some questions about CMC and its participants and why they prioritize the WRMC each year.


Colorado Mountain Club, said Porter, “is a community of people who love the challenge, thrill, and inspiration of exploring the mountains.” CMC has over 5,000 club members and teaches 7,000 K-12 school children through their Youth Education Program (YEP). Many CMC members are also volunteers who provide thousands of hikes and classes to other CMC members every year. Participants in CMC’s outdoor education activities and trips range from rank beginners to experienced high-altitude mountaineers.

According to Porter, CMC has more than 3,000 trips and over 25 educational courses for members and the public, all led by volunteers. She finds it challenging to provide ongoing training and support to outlying volunteers.

“The WRMC has been a good source of colleagues with whom to share ideas and experience with volunteer outdoor leaders,” Porter said.

One of CMC’s key volunteers, Uwe Sartori, attended the WRMC last year and commented afterward that his experience was, “both eye-opening and life-changing for [him] as a volunteer trip leader and instructor.”

Porter emphasized that, “the WRMC is a fantastic place to network, both with staff and volunteers from other mountain clubs, as well as with people from other outdoor organizations. The WRMC is also the best place to share ideas and learn about current topics in wilderness risk management. I have grown personally and professionally when presenting workshops at the WRMC on ‘risk management with volunteers’ to other volunteer organizations.”

When asked how the WRMC helped her provide a better experience for her participants, Porter shared the following story of CMC’s YEP program:

“When the first accident in the program’s 15-year history happened this summer, YEP staff responded according to our EAP, protocols, and training. I believe that CMC staff’s past experiences with the WRMC factored in a positive outcome with the child who needed emergency care, his family, as well as the other participants who continued their outdoor activities.”

We are honored to have CMC in attendance once again this year and look forward to having them share their knowledge and experiences. If you are volunteer-based organization, come take advantage of the opportunity to network with CMC and other similar organizations. Please join us at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Georgia, October 1-3, 2014.

Register today at   Small banner

Permalink | Posted by Rahel Manna on Jul 15, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Leadership, Professional Training, Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

‘Invest Everything in the Quality of Your Teaching’

By Alexa Rosenthall, Faculty Summit Intern

Despite snow flurries and muddy roads in the Red Canyon, the 2014 NOLS Faculty Summit was a great success! Over 200 participants came to the Wyss Campus for three days of presentations, workshops, networking, and high spirits.

The fourth annual NOLS Faculty Summit was kicked off with a welcome from NOLS Executive Director John Gans and Chair of the NOLS Board of Trustees Kate Williams.

Williams encouraged instructors to “invest everything in the quality of your teaching in the moment and, at the same time, believe and be changed by your belief that the impacts and rewards of this investment with your students and yourselves must be realized in places and times far beyond these fabulous classrooms we get to move in.”

The Summit hosted inspiring speakers such as Shawn Benjamin, former NOLS instructor and principal of Leadership Public Schools (LPS) Richmond. LPS Richmond sponsors students to pursue summer opportunities, such as NOLS, to encourage character development. Benjamin presented on how non-cognitive factors like self-control, gratitude, and leadership profoundly influence the likelihood of college graduation and life achievement.

Scott Briscoe, Expedition Denali member, spoke on Wednesday morning about the journey of the first African American team to attempt the Denali summit. He highlighted how the project has sparked an interest in the outdoors in diverse populations and those who may otherwise never have been exposed to the wilderness. 

Other excellent morning plenaries included Jim Halfpenny, Jeff Jackson, Drew Leemon David Chrislip, and Richard Adams.

For the afternoon workshops, 21 NOLS instructors and five guests presented various topics ranging from “Sappy Natural History: Making Environmental Studies Stick” by Jeff Wohl and “Beyond the Five Senses: Opening Your Perceptual Fields” by Suza Bedient to “Tribal History is Part of Wilderness: Making the Connection Through Indigenous Perspectives” by Lynette St. Clair.

Tuesday evening brought the presentation of the Instructors Awards. Jared Spaulding and Fabio Oliveira won the Instructor of the Year award, Briana Mackay won the combo In-Town/Field Staff Award, and Ariel Greene won the Thomas Plotkin Memorial Award. The audience was filled with supportive peers and roaring cheers.  

The keynote address was delivered by Caroline Byrd, a former NOLS Instructor and the current executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. She spoke on how outdoor leaders make great conservation leaders. Byrd linked common character traits and habits of NOLS instructors to the skills necessary to make gains in conservation of wilderness. 

If you missed the Summit, check out the videos of the presentations and workshops here

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on May 20, 2014 in the following categories: Instructor News, Leadership, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

NOLS at the LEED Platinum celebration in Billings, Montana!

Leed Presentation1

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 presentation

* 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.

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Apr 11, 2014 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Triple Platinum

On April 10, High Plains Architects will celebrate the construction of three new LEED Platinum Certified buildings, one of which is our very own Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus!


"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!

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Apr 9, 2014 in the following categories: In The News, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

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

Going Platinum

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.

Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus
Photo: Brad Christensen

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!

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Dec 16, 2013 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, In The News, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Drumroll, please ...

It has arrived. Thirty thousand copies of the shiny new course catalog have been unloaded and piled up at NOLS Headquarters, and another 30,000 will be shipped to potential students soon.

We thought we’d introduce you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 2.09.47 PM

Like last year, the NOLS course catalog has a clean, square shape and inspiring personal accounts to make the NOLS experience relatable.

With this catalog, though, we have dedicated more pages to courses and NOLS locations, specifically for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s dedicated almost entirely to the winter and spring course offerings at NOLS because we are going to publish three seasonal catalogs a year from now on. This will allow us to tailor the information in each catalog to each season to give you more helpful information about our course offerings.

You can look forward to a summer course catalog in January and a fall course catalog in April. All three catalogs will be available iPad apps shortly after their publication.

If you haven’t already requested a catalog, do so here or keep an eye out for the app, to be released soon! 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Aug 28, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Australia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Watch the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus video

Completed in the fall of 2012, the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus provides classrooms, practice fields, residences and dining facilities for WMI students and instructors. With over twenty years of experience, we know what attributes a state of the art wilderness medicine facility should have, and ours is specifically crafted to aid in the delivery of the very best wilderness medicine training.

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Mar 22, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

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