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NOLS Southwest staff

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The SW has gone to the dogs!

By NOLS Southwest staff on Feb 28, 2012

The Sterling Rope Company recycling initiative recently connected NOLS Southwest with Mountain Dog Products, a local Arizona company that up-cycles retired climbing ropes or new rope scraps from rope manufacturers into high-quality dog leashes!

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, NOLS Southwest

Making Compost Happen!

By NOLS Southwest staff on Feb 21, 2012

NOLS Southwest is now the proud proprietor of a state of the art compost bin designed and built by our very own Andrew Megas-Russell! The three-compartment system will now accommodate all of the food waste produced by the branch and provide us with nutrient rich compost for our vegetable and flower gardens. Way to go Andrew!

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship, NOLS Southwest

NOLS Southwest - BEYOND Tucson

By NOLS Southwest staff on Jan 12, 2012

BEYOND Event - Saturday, January 7th, 2012

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, NOLS Southwest

Lending a Hand in Our Southwest Community

By NOLS Southwest staff on Apr 19, 2011

On Thursday April 14th branch staff at NOLS Southwest spent the day volunteering for Habitat for Humanity Tucson. As the morning sun rose over Reddington Pass ten eager staff piled into a van and drove to the build site in west Tucson where they met Mark the building site manager. He gave a little background info on the Tucson branch of Habitat, then handed out paint brushes and put the staff to work.

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Topics: NOLS, Behind the Scenes, humanity, Southwest, paint, staff, volunteer, NOLS Southwest, habitat

Spreading the Word

By NOLS Southwest staff on Mar 21, 2011

Sometimes working in-town at a branch means getting out into the community and spreading the word about NOLS and it’s mission!

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Topics: NOLS, Summit Hut, Behind the Scenes, Nick Cross, Tucson, Promotion, Ben Venter

A Superheroic Southwest Seminar

By NOLS Southwest staff on Feb 9, 2011

This year marks the sixth year that NOLS has offered lightweight backpacking courses, through the Rocky Mountain branch as well as the Southwest. Each year, we offer a four day lightweight seminar for instructors who want to hone their lightweight skills and get some training in the specialized world of light and fast backpacking.

We were led by the two lightweight superheroes Matt Deines and Ryan Williams. The rest of our crew consisted of four awesome NOLS instructors, two artistically gifted NOLS film crew, one amazing branch director, and an intern tag-a-log.

One of the goals of the seminar this year was to "look good for the camera" so be sure to look for a new episode coming up, featuring lightweight techniques. Between the shiny new GoLite gear and the stunning backdrop of the Santa Teresa Wilderness, we captured a ton of great footage.

The first 24 hours of the course happened at the branch; eating popcorn, watching a specially made light and fast welcome movie, learning about the history of lightweight backpacking at NOLS, the philosophy of going light and the "BROMANCE"** of lightweight planning. We also spent a few hours weighing every piece of gear, trimming down unnecessary pieces (like spoon handles and clothing tags), and comparing base weights with fellow course mates. Only then were we finally ready to pack up the van and head out to the mountains. The heaviest of our packs weighed 23 pounds, the lightest 17-- and that's including food and one liter of water!

We knew that the next four days were going to be challenging as soon as we left the van. The temperature had plummeted and with a loud CRACK! we were introduced to the phenomenon of thundersnow. Despite cold nights, snow flurries, and windy conditions, our small packs allowed us to travel over some truly rugged and scenic country, leaving the trail behind us and making our own way over granite ridges, through thick forests of manzanita, and along twisted creek beds.

It was excellent training ground for this group of instructors, offering practical experience in staying warm, dry, fed, and in good spirits despite somewhat trying conditions, and with minimal gear. We concluded the course with a discussion of lightweight risk management and decision making, our personal take on lightweight style, and a brainstorming session about how we could bring some of the light and fast principles to more traditional NOLS courses. Instructors left the course well versed on the specifics of a lightweight system—from cooking with alcohol stoves to incorporating backpacks into the sleep system.

NOLS Southwest would like to thank the hardy instructors who made it through this seminar with so much laughter and general good humor. Thanks go out as well to our friends at GoLite for their timely box of gear goodies that were eagerly tested out in the field. If the thought of "going light" intrigues you, check out some of these upcoming NOLS course offerings.

**BROMANCE: A new NOLS acronym.

B=Big Three

R=Replace Gear with Lighter Gear

O=Organize and Weigh

M=Multiuse Items

A=Assessing Resources


C=Care of Equipment


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Topics: Go Light, NOLS, Southwest, Light and Fast, seminar, GoLite, Backpacking, Educators Notebook, Lightweight

The Southwest Outdoor Educator Course Brings History to Life in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

By NOLS Southwest staff on Jan 26, 2011

On a bluebird mid-January day in western Arizona a group of NOLS students descended a rocky desert canyon to re-emerge from the wilds at a ghostly visage of America’s past. They were not the only ones to happen upon the Rob Roy mine in the remote Kofa Mountains. Meeting them there were a team of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a carful of Southwest Branch staff. The goal of this Sonoran rendezvous was to aid in the restoration and preservation of a historic desert landmark.

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Topics: mine, educator, NOLS, Behind the Scenes, Southwest, outdoor, service project, fish, wildlife, kofa, construction

Sunsets, Saguaros, and NOLS Students: Spring in the Southwest

By NOLS Southwest staff on Jan 19, 2011

With the start of the New Year the Southwest Branch comes to life like an arroyo after strong desert rains. This season the branch welcomes some new faces among the familiar ones from the fall. Starting this January are our new Issue Room manager Charlotte, our new Transportation manager Bryan, and our four eager interns Dustin, Adam, Allie, and Slaton. Also new to the Branch are the students of the Southwest Outdoor Educators course, the Lightweight Backpacking course, and the first Semester course. All three course groups have successfully arrived at the Branch, geared up, and are currently in the field backpacking through the wilds of Arizona.

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Topics: hike, galiuros, Behind the Scenes, Semester, Southwest, sonora, Backpacking, Outdoor Educator, kofa, Lightweight

Southwest Semester Students Give Back

By NOLS Southwest staff on Nov 24, 2010

On November 22nd, the students of Fall Semester in the Southwest (FSW 9/13/10) spent a few hours with Eric and Suzanne Dhruv, the directors of the Ironwood Tree Experience (ITE). ITE is run through Prescott College and is another top-notch non-profit here in Tucson, AZ.

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Topics: NOLS, Tucson, Expedition Prep, service project, ironwood tree experience, Greenlots, NOLS Southwest

A day of service with Ironwood Tree Experience

By NOLS Southwest staff on Oct 29, 2010

On October 18th, the in-town staff at NOLS Southwest spent the afternoon donating some time for a great cause. We set out to meet up with Eric and Suzanne Dhruv, Directors of the Ironwood Tree Experience, (ITE) which is a local non-profit in Tucson. ITE is part of Prescott College’s Center for Children in Nature, and their mission is to connect teens with their community through experiences in nature.

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Topics: arizona, service, NOLS, Behind the Scenes, Tucson, Southwest, community project, clean up, trash, ITE, ironwood tree experience, greenlot, wilderness

Happy New Year!

By NOLS Southwest staff on Aug 26, 2008

It’s the last week of August. All of the NOLS students on courses this summer have now graduated and returned to “the real world.”

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Topics: Behind the Scenes