NOLS Grieves Thomas Plotkin Tragedy


Sep 24, 2011

The NOLS community is saddened to share the tragic news that Thomas Plotkin, a student on a Semester in India course, is lost and presumed dead.

Thomas was 20 years of age and was a taking a semester off from his studies at the University of Iowa, where he was majoring in international business. A talented scholar-athlete, he played both ice hockey and lacrosse while maintaining high academic standards.

In his NOLS application, Thomas expressed the importance of teamwork and leading by example. He wrote of mentoring his younger teammates as a high school senior lacrosse player.

“I tried showing them through my own actions that if they worked hard and stayed disciplined, they could achieve great things down the road,” he wrote.

This commitment to leadership followed him to NOLS. His instructors report teamwork was strong within his group—that every member had an important role to play.

The Minnetonka, Minnesota native was the leader of the day for his coursemates when he twisted his ankle and fell while hiking a historic well-traveled trail in northern India. It is believed he fell into the Gori Ganga River approximately 100 yards below the trail. After three days of exhaustive searching, Thomas has not been found, but recovery efforts on the ground are ongoing.

The entire NOLS family aches with the loss of this incredible young man.

Link: Message from our Board Chair

Written By


NOLS is a nonprofit global wilderness school that seeks to help you step forward boldly as a leader.

Up Next

Teen eats a cheese covered bagel at a campsite

5 Gap Year Tips from the Wilderness

Outdoor cooking
Photo by Sam Pittman, Winterline class of 2017.

Starting a gap year in the wilderness is the perfect way to gain leadership and communication skills crucial for any team.

Each year at Winterline, a skill-based travel organization, students kick off their gap year with a two-week, custom NOLS expedition in the Rocky Mountains. They will use these skills for the rest of their year as they dig deep into hands-on learning around the world.

Read More