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My Path to Outdoor Education from a Semester in Alaska

By Katiya Gombar on Jul 15, 2019

Editor's note: Katiya took a semester in Alaska in the summer of 2016 and became a NOLS instructor in May 2019.

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Topics: Semester, moutaineering, skills, NOLS Alaska, backpacking, kayaking, outdoor education, Alaska, stories, student-stories

Andrew Bobilya: Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 20, 2019
Andrew teaches rock climbing during an “Introduction to Outdoor Pursuits” class. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bobilya.

As an undergrad studying outdoor education, Andrew Bobilya didn’t aspire to be a professor. He didn’t plan on going into academia. Like many expeditions, his career didn’t follow exactly the path he expected.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, NOLS alumni, NOLS Grad, Baja Sea Kayaking, kayaking, outdoor education, stories, alumni-stories

Competence and Leadership: Making a Good Cup of Cocoa

By Molly Herber on Jan 27, 2016

When it comes to leadership, whether you're a team member or a designated team leader, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s going to be difficult for you to get things done

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Topics: leadership, Expedition Prep, cooking, outdoor education

Trash Stinks: Backcountry Waste Disposal

By Molly Herber on Jul 10, 2015

Editor's note: Guidelines from the fourth edition of NOLS' Soft Paths, by Rich Brame and David Cole.

Let's talk waste. When we go somewhere to camp out, we're going to produce garbage and human waste. It's inevitable. What's not inevitable is the way we clean up after ourselves. After all, you wouldn't go into your neighbor's backyard, have a barbecue, and leave all the trash behind, right? (Maybe it depends on how well you get along with your neighbor...)

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Topics: Expedition Prep, backpacking, outdoor education, leave no trace, backcountry

Digging Deep: Thoughts on NOLS and Nature

By Molly Herber on Jun 28, 2015

A central part of NOLS’ teaching comes from valuing learning in the outdoors. But while we talk a fair bit about wilderness, the word “nature” is harder to find on the NOLS website and publications (though I have no doubt that it comes up regularly in conversation).

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Topics: leadership, Live the Dream, outdoor education

Joint Perspective: International Educator and NOLS Parent on 21st Century Education

By Alex Phillips on May 23, 2015

We recently sat down with Dr. Beth Pfannl, Head of School at the American Overseas School of Rome, to discuss the role of NOLS in her own children’s lives. As an educator and administrator, Dr. Pfannl has extensive experience evaluating and managing best practice for student growth and development. In addition to being a member of the Board of Trustees of the European Council for International Schools (ECIS) and the American University of Rome, Dr. Pfannl was given the National Distinguished Principal Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and inducted into the Association for the Advancement of International Education Hall of Fame. Two of Dr. Pfannl’s children enrolled in NOLS courses during their summer breaks while in college. In this interview, she describes her family’s experience with NOLS and why she recommends it to international families around the world.

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Topics: National Outdoor Leadership School, NOLS Alaska, Educators Notebook, outdoor education, education

Valor Award Winner Adam Baxter: WMI Instructor, NPS Climbing Ranger, and WEMT

By Katherine Boehrer on May 13, 2015

Adam Baxter balances his seasonal life with summers as a ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park and fall through spring teaching for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. This May in Washington, D.C., he is receiving the "Valor Award" for his part in a rescue operation that took place in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) during the summer of 2013. According to the Department of the Interior website, the Valor Award is "presented to Department of the Interior employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger.” The story is told in section 3 of this profile.

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Topics: National Outdoor Leadership School, wilderness-medicine, WMI, instructor, outdoor education, backcountry

Educator Expedition: How to Encourage Student-driven Instruction

By Molly Herber on Apr 27, 2015


Stretching out before the next push. Photo by Jeannine Rupp
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Topics: Southwest, climbing, Educators Notebook, instructor, outdoor education, backcountry

Our Guide to National Park Week 2015

By Molly Herber on Apr 17, 2015

 We can feel it in our bones: this year National Park Week, from April 18-April 26, is going to be excellent. It kicks off this weekend, April 18 and 19, with free admission for everyone. That’s right—you can go visit Old Faithful in Yellowstone or walk the rim of the Grand Canyon without paying any money.

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Topics: leadership, backpacking, adventure, Outdoors, Live the Dream, outdoor education, wilderness, backcountry

Sneak Peek: New Wilderness Educator Notebook

By Molly Herber on Apr 9, 2015


The face of the new Wilderness Educator Notebook
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Topics: leadership, Educators Notebook, outdoor education, education, wilderness

Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights

By Becca Sage on Jan 23, 2015

There is a growing concern for the youth of today: will this be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents? Obesity and diabetes are scary realities for many children in the United States, and there are several theories as to why these health issues have become such an epidemic. One major contributing factor is that kids are not spending enough time outdoors and being active. When children spend more time outside, they are not only physically healthier, but they also have an overall higher quality of life.

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

The NOLS Podcast - Leadership Progression

By NOLS on Feb 2, 2011

In this episode of The NOLS Podcast, John Kanengieter, NOLS Director for Leadership, sits down with Jamie O’Donnell, NOLS instructor and program supervisor, to discuss the leadership progression on a course and speak to the unscripted nature and subtle nuances of how we teach leadership.

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Topics: NOLS, leadership, jamie o'donnell, leadership progression, discussion, Expedition Prep, leaders, experiential education, learn, John Kanengieter, curriculum, NOLS Professional, teach, Educators Notebook, instructor, outdoor education