Northeast Summer Meeting

Sunday, July 24, 2016 11:22 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

NOLS Northeast Summer Meeting 


In attendance: Leigh Eubank, Courtney Kuhl, Edmilson Fonseca, Julia Pieper, Hannah Darrin, Austin Sandoval, Hannah Wilson, Murilo Bellese (Expedition Instructors) and Stephen Novak (In-Town Staff)

Facilitating: Hannah Darrin & Edmilson Fonseca

Notes Taken By: Hannah Darrin

Notes Edited By: Sean Williams, Dave Durant

New Members: 2

These notes are a summary of topics discussed at a specific NIA meeting. They are meant to capture the “flavor” of the meeting. Unless specifically noted, they do not represent the opinions of individual faculty or the NIA as a whole.

Minutes as follows:

Hannah began by introducing what the NIA is and what has come from the NIA: pro deals, the faculty newsletter, seminars, increased international pay and travel reimbursement, the NIA mentorship program, and the Flamingo Fund. Ed talked about the EDT and filled in additional information. Hannah then asked what are the things that make people happiest about being a NOLS instructor, and what would make their experience a 7 out of 7.

First some questions arose: Interest was voiced by some to submit to the newsletter and uncertainty about the content. Hannah suggested submitting to Marco, and if that platform is not deemed appropriate the material might be worth having in the NIA Blog.  [The Faculty Newsletter comes out quadrennially in February, May, August, and November.  The submission deadlines are on the last day of the proceeding month.  Makes submissions to -Ed.]  

A suggestion for the Flamingo Fund: NOLS Northeast could submit for a bicycle for in town staff to get to the store.

Hannah mentioned the ongoing conversation with the director of education, Liz Tuohy, and the potential changes in multiple levels of staff training. Also having two recent IC grads in the meeting brought up some thoughts:

*There was concern about a lack of appropriate gear, and a desire to have what NOLS instructors would normally have access to rather than using their own old/ineffective gear. Could IC students have free rentals, and 25% off in the gear room to help offset their costs?

*In regards to PLs becoming CLs, there was some thought along the lines of the mentorship program, and having a CL seminar, with some mock CL-ing, and try hard to coordinate new CL's to work with their mentor CL's acting as a PL. 

*Could the mentor/mentee pairing come with a bonus, or could the pay for a mentoring CL, be equivalent to CL pay rather than PL pay?  

*One recent IC grad stated "my transitions between working in HQ, the fellowship, the IIT and now my first course have all been beautiful. Seven out of seven for me.”

*Could there be an extra briefing day, or half day for new Instructors and CLs to get on the same page, and create space for developing mentorship?

The conversation turned to training current staff, and seminars:

*Folks love seminars: great way to stay involved with NOLS year round, excellent way to learn leadership from peers, without the confines of being on a course, good to see new branches, and fun!

*The winter progression is very clear: AVT1, WIS, etc. The whitewater progressions are less clear with the expectations and tier system. Could Rendezvous have more clear expectations written out? Some the vocabulary (seminar, clinic, rendezvous, training trip) is not clear, particularly which seminars provide the opportunity for a skills assessment rather than just development.

*Should hiking have a tier system so that folks could get area specific check-offs, and not find themselves in over their heads? 

*To build experience most people voiced a desire for aiding to be more acceptable in various skill areas, as well as more advertised ability to work in-town jobs, even for just a few days to build comfort and experience in an area.


One instructor was curious about the SAFP and AFP positions and whether they still exist and how many there are. Ed explained what this looked like and all instructors voiced positive feelings about SAFP and AFP positions.

*"to make my experience as a NOLS Instructor a 7 out of 7 would be: having semi-annual guaranteed work, 15-20 weeks would help me to plan for rent and health insurance and I would apply to the position."

*Maybe the S/AFP could be highly selective, and considered a reward for hard work and good student outcomes. [“SAFP,” a 12.5 week per year mutual commitment, does not yet currently exist.  The NIA is advocating for this as a stepping stone towards a more sustainable career for instructors who don’t CL multiple course types, and are therefore unlikely to secure one of the increasingly scarce AFP spots. -Ed.]

One instructor voiced some desire for retirement assistance and plans

*Could there be some online seminars/guidance for instructors planning for the future?

*Can NOLS match for a certain percentage for a 401k?

*My 7 out of 7 would be some certainty of the future, and down the road a retirement plan.  [You can find more info about NOLS’ retirement plan here.  Anyone who works for NOLS can take advantage of a Tax Sheltered Annuity.  NOLS will provide a contribution once you have passed 200 weeks. -Ed.]

Overall all 9 instructors were very pleased with the work they had been receiving, the community they work in, the 360 degree feedback in place, and being heard by the NIA. Then we ate pie! 

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