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Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph on Leadership and How to Learn It

By Marc Randolph on 7/28/16 8:06 AM

We caught up with Netflix co-founder, executive mentor, and Chair of the NOLS Board of Trustees Marc Randolph to hear his thoughts on how learning resilience in the wilderness helped him build the grit to be a business leader.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS, Behind the Scenes, education, leadership

When Urban Environments Go Wild: Wilderness Medicine in the Aftermath of Disaster

By Sarah Buer on 7/5/16 9:41 AM

“Wilderness has no handrails, no telephones, and no simple solutions for complex emergency situations. It does have dangers. Some are obvious: rock fall, moving water, stormy weather, avalanches, crevasses, and wild animals. Others are subtle: impure water, dehydration, cold and damp weather, altitude illness, and human judgment.” -Tod Schimelpfenig, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

The importance of wilderness medicine knowledge and protocols in disaster zones is tenfold. When resources are depleted, emergency access is delayed, and safely functioning environments become austere, an urban setting ultimately transforms into a modern-day wilderness.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, wilderness medicine, risk management, education, wilderness, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

7 Musical Instruments to Take Backpacking

By Jacob Taswell on 6/27/16 9:55 AM

Of all the frontcountry comforts, music is one of the things I miss the most when I go into the wilderness. I can’t bring a piano out there, and even a guitar is pretty cumbersome.

Luckily, I don’t have to leave music behind altogether. 

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Topics: Alumni, Expedition Prep, Backpacking, adventure

Putting Leadership into Practice: AmeriCorps and NOLS

By Travis Davis on 6/22/16 11:46 AM

Travis reflects on his experiences serving with AmeriCorps and his NOLS courses, thinking about how their intersection has helped him grow and develop as a leader.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, whitewater, AmeriCorps, education, leadership

Ready for the Challenge: How I Became a Wilderness EMT

By Andy Burdin on 6/17/16 11:48 AM

I found myself patient-side during an intensive and grueling scenario at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus in Lander, Wyoming.

“Keep holding still, you’re doing great,” I told Anna. Our eyes met as I held her hand and she took panicked breaths through the non-rebreather that was pressed against her face, filling her lungs with oxygen. Bright red blood was beginning to seep through the large pressure dressing I was holding against her abdomen to cover the 6-inch laceration there. We needed to move, but the single, tunnel-like entrance to the mine was blocked by other screaming patients on backboards and teams of rescuers, with only their headlamps visible in the thick, chalky smoke.

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Topics: Alumni, Wilderness EMT, wfa, WFR, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, education, WEMT, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Backcountry Chilling Over Oil Drilling [Book Review]

By Sam Cook on 6/16/16 4:52 PM

There’s been a debate about it since 1980.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been threatened for years because of the oil within its borders. Due to political pressure, a 1.5 million-acre section of coastal plain was left unprotected. In 1980, Congress renamed the region, calling it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Now, the ANILCA prohibits oil and gas development on that coastal plain, but allows for Congress to permit it in the future.

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Topics: Alumni, review, adventure, Environmental Stewardship, wilderness, backcountry, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

How I Became a NOLS Nerd

By Jonas Alexanderson on 6/14/16 10:05 AM

“Next year I will turn 50 years old,” I told my wife. This was 2011 and I didn’t want any presents. Instead, I wanted to travel to Alaska from my home in Sweden to sea kayak.

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Topics: Alumni, Sea Kayaking, NOLS Alaska, adventure, Live the Dream, education

Thanking the Wilderness for Letting Me In

By Maya Johnston on 6/7/16 9:12 AM

Photo by Adam Stoumen.


“T’is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

From the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS Pacific Northwest, Live the Dream, backcountry

Ugly Boxes Doing Beautiful Things: How You Can Do Sustainability

By Cat Cook on 5/10/16 7:51 AM

Introducing: The NOLS Ugly Box

Order something from the NOLS online store and you may be surprised by what shows up on your doorstep: a not-so-pretty cardboard box, slightly worn and clearly used, possibly wearing a label from another company. While many online retailers take great care in packaging their products in a brand-centric, aesthetically-pleasing container, NOLS is thinking in a different way: why use a new box when you can reuse an old one?

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Topics: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship, education, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

How to Make Your Own Instant Backpacking Meals

By Katherine Boehrer on 4/20/16 10:27 AM

Sometimes we love the convenience of those pre-made, just-add-water, instant backpacking meals. At the end of a long day outside, it can be great to skip the dishes and still enjoy a tasty and filling dinner. Not to mention that just-add-water meals are often lighter-weight than traditional bulk rations, and require less fuel for cooking since you only need to boil water.

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Topics: Alumni, Expedition Prep, recipe, camping, cooking, adventure, expedition, backcountry

Recording Herding Songs of the Mongolian Steppe

By Dimitri Staszewski on 4/8/16 3:14 PM

NOLS graduate Dimitri Staszewski tells the story of his work recording the songs of Mongolian herders in this excerpt from the spring 2016 issue of The Leader.

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Topics: Alumni, Live the Dream, video, education, backcountry, leadership

Scott Briscoe on NOLS: It’s a Game Changer [Interview]

By Kim Freitas on 4/7/16 8:13 AM

Scott Briscoe was a member of Expedition Denali in June 2013, the first all African American team to attempt this climb. After returning from the expedition, several expedition members toured around the country, where they told the story of the climb.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Expedition Denali, NOLS Alaska, education, backcountry

Let the Mountains Teach Us—To Fail

By Colleen Wearn on 3/28/16 10:00 AM

Midway through leading a backpacking expedition composed of 15 college freshmen, I asked Claire — the nervous student designated to lead the day’s hike — if she had ever failed. At anything, ever. 

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Topics: Alumni, Live the Dream, NOLS Scandinavia, education, leadership

The Adventure Rolls On: Thriving through Adversity with Eric Thompson

By Sarah Buer on 3/25/16 9:45 AM
Photo courtesy of Eric Thompson.
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Topics: Alumni, Tolerance for Adversity, wilderness medicine, WMI, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

15 Signs You've Taken a Wilderness Medicine Course

By Sarah Buer on 3/11/16 1:40 PM

Whether it's a two-day Wilderness First Aid training or a month-long Wilderness EMT, courses with NOLS Wilderness Medicine are life-changing. That’s the point, right—to increase your awareness and preparedness for emergencies to happen?

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry, Wilderness Medicine