Annual General Meeting

Monday, May 15, 2017 5:44 PM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

Annual General Meeting Notes 5/15/2017

Facilitated by: Molly Herber, Dave Durant, Allie Maloney, and Hannah Darrin

Notes taken by: Katherine Boehrer

Edited by: Dave Durant, Allie Maloney

Attendees: About 50 NOLS employees, ranging from new in-town staff to 4 AFP instructors and an EDT Member.


These notes are a summary of topics discussed at a specific NIA meeting. They are meant to capture the “flavor” of the meeting. They do not represent the opinions of NOLS, participating faculty/staff or the NIA.


NIA History -  Molly 

  • Founded in 1975
  • The NIA is governed by 12 Board members and a President

NIA “Year in Review” - Allie

  • 10 meetings in the last year
  • Online is 2016 treasurer's report - see where money is going!
  • Worked on lifestyle survey all year
  • Sean Williams, NIA President, attended Board meeting in February
  • Held elections, 6 new board members, 4 newsletter articles 
  • Recruited 87 new members 

Top 3 priorities for 2017 - Molly

  • These were voted on in the fall elections
  • Instructor engagement - making sure instructors have a seat at the table at important events like the NOLS Board of Trustees meetings, foster clear and consistent communication between Faculty and HQ
  • Field faculty travel - working toward 100% reimbursement, greater clarity in process
  • Mentorship and careers - expanding the NIA Mentorship Program, working with staffing to improve engagement/feedback 

Mentorship Program - Hannah

  • “Endorsed” mentors - take a look!
  • Someone who has a story similar to you
  • Go to NIA website under membership to find the list - reach out to someone
  • If you want to be a mentor can also go to the website and email Mita 

Field Faculty Lifestyle Survey Results - Dave

  • Survey was open for the entire 2016 calendar year, 291 respondents, 41% of field faculty
  • Data is representative of a broad spectrum of folks - new to NOLS and not
  • Observations
  • Instructors are dedicated to NOLS
  • 86% work more than one job, but many say NOLS is their top priority
  • It takes a long time to build a sustainable career 
  • The more weeks in the field you have, the more work you will get
  • 30 weeks is a magic number 
  • AFP is 25 weeks a year, it usually takes about 5 years to get to 15 weeks a year
  • Only a quarter of folks under 30 weeks are satisfied with their current amount of work 
  • 1 in 3 identify as having good long-term prospects for their NOLS career
  • Volume of field work and satisfaction are correlated 
  • The more work you get, the happier you are with it
  • Most instructors have supplemental (non-job) income
  • More than half of people are getting money from some other non-job source
  • 65% of instructors make less than $30,000 a year (this is total income from all sources/jobs, not just from NOLS - Ed.)
  • Instructors are dedicated 
  • The vast majority hope to work for NOLS for an additional 5 years, One in three say they want to work in the field for the rest of their life. 
  • Questions
    • Q: Did people answer all questions? [A: mostly yes]
    • Q: When are we doing it again? [A: likely 2018]
    • Q: Any plans to tie in with the Moorehead survey? [A: interesting idea]

Open Forum - Dave

  • Appreciations about NOLS
    • Inexpensive housing at branches
    • Diversity of seminars offered
    • Heavy subsidy of seminars
    • People you work with 
    • Desire to be a leader in diversity/inclusion
  • In-town employees being included in NIA
    • All 8 intown employees present said they would join the NIA if that were an option.
  • Tiered System for Faculty
    • Suggestion of 3 faculty groups: 
    • Summer Faculty (guaranteed work in July)
    • S-AFP (12.5 weeks per year, no benefits)
    • AFP (25 weeks per year, full benefits)
    • There are  lot of people who would like to work more, and there are a subset of folks who are happy with working 1-2 courses per year
    • What would it take to put faculty into a pool to self-identify what they want: 1 course, half-time, full-time
    • Better life planning, less uncertainty -- maybe you start with just summer and that’s expected for 1-2 years
    • Are we creating an excess of instructors by offering too many IC spots?
  • How To Get Change @ NOLS
    • Consistently writing stuff on Program evaluations - that gets filtered up through p-sups all the way up
    • Data (e.g. Lifestyle Survey) goes a long way - anecdotes only take us part way 
    • Mentorship and paying it forward - bring them into the field, talk about them on your program evals - instill that culture into others (be a mentor)
    • Longevity of intown folks affects field instructors and vice versa  
    • Diversify your skill sets (become a climber, boater, winter instructor)
    • Work for NOLS Wilderness Medicine 
    • Field staff are supported by in-town staff - turnover intown is high - at the lower level, part of the issue is compensation. NIA advocates for increases in wages for lower level in-town staff - to have more continuity of systems
    • Make connections


Join the NIA! - Hannah

  • Summer Membership Drive is starting
  • Help support instructor voice in the school 
  • Help enroll 3 more people each in the NIA 
  • NIA Branch representatives - you can be one!


Think creatively.

Act collectively.

Join the NIA.

The mission of the NIA is to communicate and advocate instructor views and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school's mission and values

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