Documents from the NIA Archives

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  • Wednesday, June 15, 1977 3:22 PM | Allie Maloney
    June 15, 1977

    This gathering, the first of the NIA discussion format meetings, presented some interesting feedback on NOLS hiring procedures. About 15 instructors were present. The two major areas of discussion were:

    1. Evaluating instructors (the difficulty of defining seniority and recognizing overall excellence)
    2. Six month contracts (specifically, establishing salary and requirements)

    Vini Norris plans to work on a comprehensive personnel management plan during the summer, to be completed by September 1. All instructors are encouraged to read and respond to the NOLS 5-year plan (copies are in the office, and have also been sent to branch schools) to better understand the need to set more concrete future goals, both in hiring procedures and in other aspects of NOLS.

    The next NIA discussion meeting will be on Tuesday, July 12 to discuss NOLS finances (Peter Simer and Jan Jahn will present the facts, answer questions, etc. as Vini did in the last meeting.) There will be a third discussion meeting in mid-August (topic undecided) before the major NIA gathering on September 1.

    NIA Meeting Notes

    In the past the unofficial NOLS hiring policy was to encourage instructor turnover by offering low pay, minimal fringe benefits (mostly of the "midnight mountaineering" sort) and little incentive to improve knowledge or skills. Although admittedly the pay is still not as high as we'd like, fringe benefits not great and incentives not irresistible, NOLS is exploring ways to foster and encourage a core of highly qualified instructors. With the increasing popularity of fall and spring semesters, many instructors are seeking year round employment at NOLS or at least more secure job possibilities than the seasonal "bloc hiring" presently done. Clearly NOLS should be developing a more comprehensive personnel management plan, both to satisfy the goal of continued stability and to insure that good instructors not only stay around but also get better at what they do.

    1. Seniority
    a. What qualifies an instructor for preference in hiring? Skill level? Length of time with NOLS? Number of courses worked? High instructor evaluations?
    b. Difficulty in arriving at a definition of seniority.
    c. Should NIA be active in instructor re-evaluation via a review board?

    2. Re-evaluation of instructors
    a. Need for conscientious instructor evaluations by other instructors (lack of constructive criticism in student's evaluations of instructors)
    b. Need for honest self-evaluations (should there have to be financial incentives for improving skills and knowledge?)

    3. Six-month contract (this would involve a field contract guaranteeing six months of work at a specific salary per year)
    a. difficulty of pro-rating salary (eg: CL in the Winds may be PL on a winter course or Ass't in Canyonlands)
    b. only comparable precedent is a semester proctor, who now receives $600 regardless of position worked.
    c. good way of encouraging CL to observe other CL's style and teaching techniques (steady salary would remove financial disadvantages of taking subordinate position)
    d. possibility of including non-field work in 6-month contract (i.e.: stint in the office or lumberyard for a few weeks)
    e. should there be training requirements written into the contract?
    i) Seminars could be taught and/or attended while on contract-- possible way of encouraging advanced training other than just salary increments
    ii) Requiring attendance at one seminar per 6-month contract may increase quality of instructions and of instructors contracted for long periods of time.

    4. Seminars
    a. obvious need for NOLS to sponsor its own seminars (perhaps in conjunction with NIA) in order to help instructors to update knowledge and skills
    b. "outside" seminars often too expensive and/or too far away to make it worthwhile at present for instructors to attend very many
    c. request to have an "expedition seminar"-- in other words a 7-10 day field seminar combining fly fishing, biology, and climbing skills (could be given several times of year, spring and fall)
    d. desire for snow camp and climbing camp (5-7 days each) for instructors, spring and fall)
  • Saturday, February 12, 1977 2:33 PM | Allie Maloney

    Dear Sirs,

    The NOLS Instructors Association is an organization of the outdoor teachers working for the National Outdoor Leadership School organized to further what we see as our best interests. We coordinate training seminars to keep ourselves abreast of current techniques, make available services need by the instructor community (i.e. storage lockers and a darkroom), arrange equipment discounts, and sporadically publish a newsletter. While we serve as a consulting voice to the administration, we don't engage (or haven't considered engaging) in collective bargaining.

    We need advice on proper procedures to avoid possible legal misunderstandings. Our questions are as follows:

    1. We collect $1000 to $2000 per annum in dues, a few dollars in interest, and $100 to $700 a year in darkroom and locker fees. Do we need to pay any taxes?

    2. Thus far, the labor for all of our endeavors has been volunteer. The workload has begun to exceed our time available so we are considering hiring occasional part time employees. What is the proper procedure?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Yours Truly,

    Randy Cerf

  • Friday, July 25, 1975 3:08 PM | Allie Maloney
    July 25, 1975

    Dear Instructors:

    On July 12, the Board of Directors of NOLS at a meeting in Salt Lake, relieved Paul Petzoldt of his duties as Director of the school and hired Jon Hamren as his replacement. Paul was hired as senior advisor.

    By July 16 the reasons behind the decision had not been made public so at a meeting of NOLS - PPWE personnel in Lander the desire was expressed that John Walker, Chairman of the Board, come to Lander to explain the decision. On July 17 John Walker and Paul Petzoldt were present at a meeting of interested people. Mr Walker presented the Board's reasons for its decision (mostly financial) and Paul presented his defense. The meeting ended with an agreement to place some NOLS people on the Board of Directors as soon as possible.

    At a meeting on July 18, three names were chosen to fill vacancies on the Board as they occurred. The three were: Skip Shoutis, Bill Scott, and Rob Hellyer. The Board's action is still pending, and will be taken at the next meeting. (The next scheduled meeting is in October).

    On July 21, about 50 NOLS instructors and other concerned people decided to form an association to promote communication. A steering committee was elected to draft a constitution within three days. The committee was also charged with conveying the instructor's support to Jon Hamren as director, which it did.

    July 24 the constitution was presented at a meeting of instructors. The NOLS Instructor Association now exists. Nominations are now open for positions on an advisory committee of seven instructors which will be the governing body of the Instructor Association. Nominations are open until August 24, voting will be by ballot the week of August 24 - 31.

    Everything is running smoothly now. More details when you get out. Have a good course. 

    Steering Committee, NOLS Instructor Association
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