'Do What You Like. Like What You Do.'

By Mike Betz

Feb 26, 2015


mike-betz-fish Fishing in Australia. Photo Jackson Sinclair

“We don’t take a trip. A trip takes us,” said John Steinbeck.

NOLS gave me the opportunity to experience a trip that would take me. It all started in 2012. I couldn’t find a study abroad program that fit my needs. I could have traveled abroad with my university, but I still would have been sitting inside classrooms imagining what the great outdoors had in store.

When I headed home for Christmas break I heard about NOLS for the first time. My dad heard about NOLS from my cousin, a NOLS alumnus, and suggested it for me. After some research, I secured the last spot on a semester abroad that was right for me: a Semester in Australia.

An outdoor education, especially one that involved being on water, was a dream come true. From early childhood, I remember being fascinated by any water source. Marine life always caught my attention, and Australia gave me the tools to encounter and understand a variety of species.


mike-betz-wemt-scenario Volunteering to be a "patient" in a wilderness EMT scenario, an important experience for any intern.

My course was split into three sections: canoeing (39 days), backpacking (23 days), and cultural (7 days). I had little to no experience with any of these technical skills, but with three brilliant instructors and an outstanding group of coursemates, we were able to grow in all of the aspects of this trip. The Kimberly in Western Australia is so remote and accompanied with a wide range of species that I had never heard of. It was something I loved waking up to and studying every day. How far out of the “real world” we were really hit me when we arrived at a waterfall and one of my instructors told me I could count on one hand the number of people who had seen it.

Right then, I knew I would forever use my NOLS experiences for future endeavors. After an amazing cultural section of fishing, storytelling, and group classes, our course came to an end and I didn’t know when I would be affiliated with NOLS again.

I returned to my last year of school still trying to figure out what I would do once the year was over. Stumbling around the web one day looking for jobs, I found myself back on the NOLS website looking through courses. That’s when I came upon the PR & Marketing Internship.

During my first month working at NOLS, I have been introduced to an amazing community at work and in Lander. My internship has allowed me to work on a variety of projects. One of my primary responsibilities is writing press releases for NOLS grads. This allows me to really understand each course and what the highlights are—useful information for my next course. Also, I am working on the blog and social media.

This job also involves connecting with our partners to keep them updated on what NOLS is doing so they can inform people of events around their areas. In March, I will work my first event at the local high school in Lander to spread the NOLS mission and answer students’ questions.


mike-betz-sinks Photo Justin Alexandre

One of the best parts of working this internship is getting to interact with the students. NOLS Rocky Mountain is right down the street and when courses are getting ready to take off, I help with the equipment and issue gear to the students. Being able to share my experiences with them and vice versa is something special, especially when it is their first expedition.

Besides working at NOLS, Lander offers more activities than I could’ve imagined. Coming out here with a few technical skills, I thought I might have already seen what could be offered. Boy was I wrong. In the backyard of this small town lies Sinks Canyon State Park. People flock here from all over for rock climbing and I have heard numerous people tell me I’m in the right place to learn. The hiking is tremendous as well. The trails wind around opened rock walls and eventually lead to a waterfall. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the activities I look to pursue while being out here.

The opportunities are endless at NOLS, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Learn more about taking a study abroad course with NOLS.

Written By

Mike Betz

Up Next

What To Do When You’re Lost in the Woods

What separates the best navigators from the rest is the ability to recognize when they are starting to veer off route and to know when to simply stop and turn back.

If you spend enough time in the outdoors, you’ll probably get disoriented and lost at least once in your life, whether that’s on the trails behind your house or deep within a national park. Even the best navigators can become disoriented. What separates the best navigators from the rest is the ability to recognize when they are starting to veer off route and to know when to simply stop and turn back.

Read More