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Quantifying the Unquantifiable: What I Learned after a Week in the Wilderness with the Archer School for Girls

By Jen Pontrelli on May 9, 2016

There I was in the middle of the Galiuro Wilderness in southern Arizona. Traversing a mountain trail at top speed for the terrain, sweating profusely in the desert sun, and humming Fergie’s 2007 hit “Glamorous.”

As a diehard Metallica fan, I didn’t expect this particular tune to be rattling around in my brain, but my fellow expedition members, 12 high school freshman girls, would not have it any other way.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, Backpacking, adventure, NOLS Southwest, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education

Love at NOLS, A Valentine’s Day Story

By Anne McGowan on Feb 12, 2016


Photo by Mayur Gala.
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Topics: Alumni, Leadership Skills, NOLS Professional Training

How NOLS Made Me a Better Restaurant Manager: The Northstar Cafe Story

By Jen Pontrelli on Dec 8, 2015


Practicing decision-making. Photo by Darren Malhame.


The restaurant business is known to be a notoriously tough gig. Long hours, fluctuating market value for goods, high employee turnover and food fads all play into a stressful work environment for even the most seasoned restaurateur. So when a team of restaurant professionals does find a working formula, how do they take their thriving business to the next level?

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Topics: Leadership Skills, cooking, Backpacking, adventure, backcountry, NOLS Professional Training

No Borders in the Backcountry

By Jen Pontrelli on Nov 20, 2015

“What did I get myself into?!”

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Topics: Alumni, Sea Kayaking, NOLS Alaska, backcountry, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education

Preparing for the Unexpected: Wilderness Risk Management Conference 2015

By Alyssa Rainbolt on Oct 22, 2015
Discussing risk at the 2015 WRMC. Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.

I sat down to breakfast at a table of folks including Outward Bound Vice President of Safety Mark Vermeal. Vermeal was sharing the story of his friend, who had neglected to tie a knot at the end of his rope while rock climbing. We at the table agreed that it was not an unfamiliar story: climber is comfortable at their home crag and doesn’t think to take the precaution of tying a knot at the end of the rope. Climber is injured; in this case, a broken arm. In other cases, outcomes may be far worse. It’s a common mistake that is highly avoidable, and one that should drive the need to shift the climber mentality.

“So, how do we do that?” Vermeal posed to the table.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, WRMC, Risk Management, Educators Notebook, NOLS Professional Training, Wilderness Medicine

Why Outdoorsy People Make the Best Co-workers

By Molly Herber on Oct 16, 2015

What does whitewater canoeing have to do with a board meeting? Or mountaineering with watercooler gossip? More than you’d think.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, education, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education, Prime, Adult courses

New NASA Mission Features Crew of NOLS Grads

By Cole Medders on Aug 16, 2015

Astronaut Suni Williams spacewalking. 

Space, the final frontier, will now be brought into the private business sector as NASA prepares the first commercialized space flight. American soil has been void of launches to space for a while now due to a lack of funding. It has been the goal of NASA and government administration to once again make space flight a part of American industry, and that goal will soon be reached with the help of some incredible NOLS alumni.

NOLS graduates Doug Hurley, Sunita Williams, Bob Behnken, and Eric Boe will proudly participate in the first commercial crew transportation system and lead space exploration into a new era.

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Topics: Alumni, Leadership Skills, NASA, Becoming an Instructor, Astronauts, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education

SUWS of the Carolinas and the WRMC

By Anna Wiser on Jul 29, 2015

With the 22nd annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) fast approaching in Portland, Oregon, October 14-16, 2015, we are excited to continue highlighting organizations that attend the conference year after year and contribute to its success.

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Topics: WRMC, risk management training, Risk Management, Educators Notebook, NOLS Professional Training, professional development

Future Global Leaders Thrive at NOLS Rocky Mountain

By Molly Herber on May 12, 2015

“This was an opportunity to learn from a diverse group of future leaders whose backgrounds reshaped my perspective of what true leadership is!” – Oghenefego Ahia, Future Global Leader


Students pause for a break in Bonneville Basin in the Wind River Range of the Rockies. Photo by NOLS Instructor Darcy Mullen.

By Michele Cantos, Program Manager for the Future Leaders Foundation

During the summer of 2014, our inaugural class of 2014 Future Global Leader (FGL) Fellows embarked on the first phase of the FGL Fellowship: The FGL Leadership Expedition with NOLS. For three weeks, these students from 12 different nationalities backpacked over 80 miles of rugged

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Backpacking, adventure, backcountry, NOLS Professional Training

Spring Break in a Tent: The Patagonia Leadership Trek

By NOLS on May 7, 2015


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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Patagonia, Backpacking, backcountry, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education

Berkshire School Slays Powder in the Tetons

By Kate Koons on Mar 12, 2015

On Monday, NOLS Teton Valley wrapped up the inaugural winter ski course with the Berkshire School, a private boarding school in Massachusetts. The campus was pleased to host the new course and have our first ever high school students out on a winter adventure.

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Topics: Skiing, NOLS Teton Valley, NOLS Professional Training

Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management in NOLS Patagonia

By Casey Pikla on Feb 3, 2015

Jerry Rizzo, Director of Leadership Programs at Cornell's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, reflected on the adversity, learning, and new-found confidence his students encountered on the school's recent NOLS expedition. Ranked among the nation's top business schools, Johnson has gone to Patagonia with NOLS since 2013. Read Jerry's full post here.

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Topics: NOLS Professional Training

Astronaut Reid Wiseman on Expedition Behavior

By Casey Pikla on Nov 4, 2014

Astronaut and U.S. Navy Commander Reid Wiseman wrote the following missive about expeditionary behavior from low Earth orbit to be read to the astronaut class of 2013 on their NOLS course. A highlight of that course was connecting with CDR Wiseman on the International Space Station via satellite phone from deep in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NASA, Educators Notebook, expedition behavior, Astronauts, NOLS Professional Training

Allison Bergh on Astronauts and the Arctic

By Alison Hudson on Apr 3, 2012

Allison Bergh, a long-time instructor for NOLS, got her start in outdoor education as a river guide. While she loved the wilderness aspect the job, Bergh soon realized that she wanted to be an educator rather than a guide.

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Topics: Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, NOLS Professional Training

Time Magazine Cover Features NOLS Grad Capt. Jeremiah Ellis

By Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin on Apr 27, 2010

Below Photo By Adam Ferguson, Time

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Topics: NOLS, Afghan War, NOLS Pro, National Outdoor Leadership School, Captain Ellis, Jeremiah Ellis, April Time Magazine Cover, WMI, Pir Mohammed School, Time Magazine, NOLS Professional Training, Wilderness Medicine