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A Rural Surprise: Utah Officials Support National Parks

By Rich Brame on Sep 25, 2019

Utah wildflowers.
 

Southern Utah is a land of contrasts. High peaks border deep canyons. Wide slickrock plateaus divide narrow, winding washes. Sought-after resources like coal, uranium, and natural gas lie beneath open space, wildlife habitat, and crystal skies. National parks, with their focus on visitors, are rimmed by rural communities with agricultural roots.

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Topics: Environment, stewardship, wilderness, leadership, activism

SOAR Act Introduction to the House of Representatives

By Aaron Bannon on Jul 26, 2019

Photo by Trip Davis.
 

For newly-minted outdoor programs, and for well-established ones like NOLS, the business of permitting and access on U.S. public lands is becoming increasingly challenging. Agencies responsible for permitting are under-resourced, mired in administrative processes, and compelled to prioritize other resource needs first.

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, leadership

I Don't Need to Be an Extrovert to Lead: Reflections on Backpacking in Alaska

By Natasha Gold on Jun 18, 2019
Photo by Natasha Gold
 

In January 2018, I was perusing the internet for outdoor schools on a whim that perhaps I would apply to a program. I stumbled onto the NOLS website; instantly, I wanted to go.

I found an 8-day women-only backpacking expedition in Alaska. I liked the idea of a women’s only trip and I have wanted to camp in Alaska since I was little.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Alaska, all-women, inspiring women, leadership, women in leadership

How Valuing Different Leadership Roles Makes Better Teams

By Molly Herber on Oct 23, 2018

Photo by Brad Christensen.
 

Picture a leader in your mind.

Maybe you're imagining a lone individual singlehandedly making decisions and wielding authority.

Or, maybe you're thinking of someone completely different—like your friend who avoids the spotlight, but always has their eyes open for places to help. 

Which one’s a “real” leader? Of course, the answer’s both—and more.


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Topics: Behind the Scenes, leadership

Research Connects Wilderness Experience with Stronger Problem-solving Skills

By Shannon Rochelle on Aug 28, 2018

Photo by Justine Cornelison.
 

Last summer, the Antler River was a knee-deep stream flowing through a broad meadow deep in the mountains of Alaska. Now, it was a moving lake, flooding the entire meadow.

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, Research, Problem Solving, leadership, outdoor semester

The Top 3 Leadership Lessons You Won’t Learn in an Office or Classroom

By Liz Townsend on Jul 10, 2018


My rope team heading back to base camp. Photo by Liz Townsend.

You might think that seven years of working in the business world would have taught me about leadership. Yet the best lessons I’ve learned have come while climbing rocks and mountains and hiking miles into the wilderness, where traveling with companions over steep snowy passes and through thick forested valleys has forced me to face leadership challenges in ways that I rarely encounter inside.

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Topics: tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, Backpacking, MBAs, Live the Dream, leadership, NOLS Custom Education

Pay It Forward: How My NOLS Semester Helped Me Lead My Own Backcountry Trips

By Carolyn Highland on Jun 27, 2018


Photo by Carolyn Highland

November 21, 2012 was one of my favorite days on this planet. Up until this point, the idea of identifying a favorite day had seemed impossible, like choosing your favorite drop of water in a rushing river. But this was a day that made you realize if you couldn’t identify days that made the shortlist, you hadn’t yet experienced the type of day worthy of it.

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Topics: Semester, skiing, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, leadership

Snow in May: Leadership in the Face of Uncertainty

By Sarah Delany on Jun 18, 2018


Photo from Pixabay.

Postholing is a gamble at best; the unstable snow holds a person carrying a pack one step and collapses the next, leaving you up to your knees in snow when you least expect it.

When my Leadership Development class from Bates College rolled into the NOLS Northeast campus in Gabriels, New York this spring, the last thing I could have imagined was that I would find myself hip deep in rotten snow, moving slower than imaginable, and pondering whether or not I would have to set up my tent in the dark.

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Topics: Backpacking, Live the Dream, NOLS Northeast, leadership, NOLS Custom Education, Bates College

Learning a Non-Linear Leadership Style from Sea Kayaking

By Jen Dulz on Jun 12, 2018


Getting ready to launch the boats. Photo by Ali Bradley.

It was hot. I struggled to find shade as our group went through necessary orientation tasks: carry 3-5 water droms behind each boat, assign cook groups, gather group gear, divide group gear, assign and load boats.

Since I'd paddled on a NOLS trip before, I was "voluntold" to be the lead boat in a single kayak. I learned our heading, received a few instructions about monitoring my speed, and then we launched—a group of women on a Baja Sea Kayaking course.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, Baja, Sea Kayaking, women, all-women, leadership, women in leadership

NOLS Instructor Expeditions of 2017

By Molly Herber on Jun 6, 2018


Photo by Eric Page.

How do you become a better educator? There’s no one best answer, but continuing to be a learner yourself is certainly up there.

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Topics: canoeing, Himalaya, kayaking, mountaineering, Alaska, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), leadership, packrafting, Instructor expedition

Why Students Who Learn Leadership Stand Out

By Molly Herber on Mar 22, 2018


Photo by Ella Bruijn.

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Topics: teens, experiential education, leadership

How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Take a NOLS Course

By Erica Nelson on Mar 15, 2018


Photo by Craig Muderlak

When I heard from NOLS’ staffing office that I’d been accepted on the River Instructor Course, I was beyond stoked. I ran to tell my boss the great news. Expecting her to be happy, instead she said, “We can’t afford to lose you this time of year.”

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Topics: Expedition Prep, Live the Dream, leadership

4 Strategies Leaders Use to Make Better Decisions

By Molly Herber on Mar 7, 2018


Photo by Betsy Winston.

Imagine this: You’re trying to figure out the best way to cross a river with your group of four friends. Even though you’ve crossed rivers on your own before, you’ve never led a group while doing it.

You’re wracking your brain trying to remember any acronyms that might help you, scrambling around the riverbank trying to guess the river’s speed, and weighing the equally strong temptations of “just going for it” and staying put, making camp, and coming back to the decision in the morning.

When you’re on the verge of total frustration, your friend shouts, “Hey, I found a log! Let’s use it to cross the river!”

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Topics: decision making, Live the Dream, leadership

Learning the Meaning of Teamwork in the Wilderness

By Wolf Johnson on Jan 22, 2018

I crested the top of the small mountain, ahead of the rest, for a brief moment of celebration on the top, all by myself. The view took my breath away, literally, but also emotionally. I could feel a tenderness and had a few tears in my eyes. These were happy tears. As the others, my coursemates, arrived on the mountain’s top, the sun was at an angle and beginning to set. We all celebrated, and we were also exhausted and laughing. In this moment I felt immense joy and pride, and, realizing we were now about one-fourth of the way through our 30 days in the wilderness, I thought to myself, I think I’m going to make it, and I think this is going to be amazing.

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Topics: Wind River Wilderness, Wyoming, Backpacking, Live the Dream, teamwork, leadership

Learn Your Habits to Make Better Decisions

By Molly Herber on Sep 20, 2017

Humans’ ability to use patterns helps us make decisions faster, but can also lead us into what NOLS teaches in our leadership curriculum as decision-making traps.

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Topics: decision making, Live the Dream, leadership