NOLS Grads in Haiti and Chile

Posted by: Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin on Mar 26, 2010

Shane Young

NOLSies all over the world are finding that wilderness leadership skills—namely, expedition behavior, competence, communication, judgment & decision-making, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, self-awareness, and vision and action—are as useful in the humanitarian world as they are in the backcountry.

Many NOLS graduates are involved in humanitarian development and relief work worldwide, and at least five are currently involved in earthquake relief efforts in Chile and Haiti.

  • Tom Turley, who has been featured in other blogs, has been engaged in
    humanitarian efforts in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in the wake of the 2004
    tsunami, and in California during the 2007 fire season. He is now in
    Haiti helping with earthquake relief with the organization, Americares.
  • NOLS WMI grad Sara Nelson wrote recently, “Just got back from two weeks in Haiti, working at a field hospital about 45 minutes outside of Port-Au-Prince.” Sara is an ER doctor in Maine.
  • Graham Brant-Zawadzki, also a WMI grad, is heading to Haiti this summer with a group of physicians, nurses, and medical school students to work with and help train Haitian heath care workers.
  • Shane Young (pictured above), also a WMI grad, headed to Haiti soon after the earthquake struck and used his Wilderness EMT skills to help with relief efforts.
  • David Edson, who spent 80 days in Patagonia with NOLS, headed back to Chile with the nonprofit relief organization Convoy of Hope.
There seems to be something about NOLS that sparks its graduates to help others. The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are not the only events that have prompted NOLS graduates to drop everything and head abroad to help out. Kelly Pyke is involved in international relief work in Uganda. Jerry Jex just returned from a year and a half of development work in the Philippines. Glad Griebling just returned from a year of medical relief work in the Sudan. Paul Dreyer just devoted three months to humanitarian work in Nepal. Michelle Murphy just returned from leading a team on medical relief work in Ghana. Justin Padjett founded Landmark Learning, a relief medic program, and is dedicated to rural medical care in Ecuador. And, Dr. Sharon Stein (a NOLS Kenya grad and specialist surgeon), Jeff Allen (WMI grad), and Jesse Karp (a NOLS river instructor) work with Doctors Without Borders in Africa.

NOLS is proud that these and other NOLS graduates have dedicated their lives to helping others. If you know other NOLS grads involved in humanitarian efforts, let us know.

Aparna is a NOLS instructor and has been the PR and Marketing Intern, PR specialist, and the Diversity & Inclusion manager at NOLS. She is a founding partner of The Avarna Group (