A successful meeting at NOLS Northeast, July 2016. 

Email the NIA Board at NIAboard@googlegroups.com with comments, questions or additions to the meeting minutes.

  • Tuesday, October 06, 2015 3:23 PM | Abigail Wehner (Administrator)

    NIA Patagonia Meeting October 5, 2015, NOLS Patagonia Casa Comun

    Hosted by: Drew Seitz and Fabio Raimo de Oliveira

    Notes by: Drew Seitz 

    Edited by: Abbie Wehner

    In attendance: Drew, Fabio, Kyle Miller, Rebeca Caceres, Oscar Soto, Paz Torres, *Felipe Buff*, Felipe Pimentel, Cristina Prieto, *Jorge Pena (IIT)*, Johnny Hepburn (*indicates non-member, but Felipe Buff joined as a lifetime member at the conclusion of the meeting)


    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.

    -International Pay scale and changes were discussed, and everyone seemed happy with the changes that took place. Fabio discussed history of the pay scale issue, and NIA role in gathering information and new pay scales. Change is possible.

    -Discussed our main goals for the upcoming year, focusing on increased instructor engagement and travel reimbursement.

    -Instructor engagement: Head Instructor (needs to stay connected with international branches, continue to work field courses, school-wide issues, not Lander-centric)

    -Gap between field staff and staffing: Discussed the mentorship program, but no takers for participation in it. Noted that it is a good idea and we need more publicity for the program. Concern/question that it seems the usual way to get more work is to contact staffing. Noted that may be harder for Lander-based I’s who aren’t as outgoing to advocate for themselves. Drew clarified that they were discussing “that new instructors at branches outside of Lander (most specifically Patagonia where the IIT program is strong) already have mentors who have worked for the school for a while, while at larger branches like Lander it can be easier for quieter and less-confident folks to slip through the cracks.” -Ed.

    -Fabio asked if there was enough/too much/not enough information from NIA. Group noted that it seems like enough and we should continue with newsletter articles and balance maintaining instructor engagement and excellence with making and taking a stance when there is such a need.

    -Discussed how much the NIA represents instructors: The members are the ones who care enough, who the instructors are is more important than how many there are. Focus on continuing to be approachable and not just fight.

    -Travel reimbursement: Currently does not cover expenses associated with obtaining visa. People have to go to Santiago to the embassy. Since we value diversity, how can we support this process? Alaska travel stipend should get Alaska travel plus US travel.

    -Curriculum and resource sharing. NOLS Wikipedia? Allie Maloney has started a google doc (nolsinstructorcurriculum) to collect resources. Additionally, Marco Johnson sent out an email on November 7 stating “the Curriculum department has made a great deal of curriculum resources available via Google Drive.  To access these resources you MUST have a nols.edu email account.  Protecting NOLS developed curriculum is one of the main reasons for this stipulation.   We hope you will access curriculum on Google Drive to make your courses exceptional.” -Ed.

  • Wednesday, July 29, 2015 3:28 PM | Abigail Wehner (Administrator)

    NIA Three Peaks Ranch Summer Meeting July 28, 2015

    Hosted by: Hadley Warner

    Notes by: Hadley Warner        Edited by: Abbie Wehner

    Attendees: Hadley Warner, Patrick Creeden, Mauricio Inostroza, Greta Baier, Rebecca Barth-Aasen, Ethan Wolston, Jane Champion


    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


    • First NIA meeting at NOLS Three Peaks Ranch. Welcome address. Description of what NIA is and NIA mission statement.

    • History of NIA for those not familiar with organization.

    • Membership, including how to join, what it means to be a member, how NIA can help represent Nols field instructors.



    • International pay scale was discussed. Both the international instructor perspective and the compensation task force was discussed and explained to those in attendance who were not familiar with the current issues. One instructor discussed how his membership with the NIA is very important to him due to these topics.

    • Discussed the role the NIA has played and continues to play in representing Nols field instructors to the school in terms of increasing compensation. The resulting conversation was that one member stated that they are a member of the NIA in order to continue to have advocacy for increased compensation.


    • How the NIA presence at Three Peaks now can help instructors/ in town staff at the Ranch feel more connected to the main body of the NIA and Nols in Lander.

      • The goal is to continue to have a presence, particularly around the Seminar and spring Horsepacking Training Trip or Rendezvous.


    • The NIA mentorship program was relatively new when this meeting occurred. We discussed the mentorship program and what it means. It was brought to attention that some staff would be willing to act as mentors, but do not qualify in terms of what the NIA published. The question posed is if the NIA would be willing to accept qualified mentors who do not meet the over 100 field weeks required.

    Travel Reimbursement:

    • The travel reimbursement updates and changes with health insurance was discussed briefly.


    • Discussed different membership options. Had two new members off their 2015 IC’s, both now working in the horsepacking program, in attendance.  

      Additional Comments

    • Discussed Flamingo Fund ideas, including: Boombox/stereo for Cookhouse, stronger Internet connection (especially when WFR students are in town), a sweat-lodge/sauna, some gym type equipment (ex/ weights/mats etc).

    • Discussed the Horsepacking seminar and Horsepacking Training Trips as successful ways of bringing new instructors into the Horsepacking program and Three Peaks Ranch.

    • It was clarified that the Horsepacking Training Trip alternates years with the Horse Packers Rendezvous gathering at Three Peaks. Next spring will be the Rendezvous gathering for instructors to continue their education and discussions about the program.

  • Wednesday, July 08, 2015 10:00 AM | Abigail Wehner (Administrator)

    Hosted By: Hannah Darrin, July 8th, 2015 6:30-8:30pm

    Notes By: Hannah Darrin, at the Blue Moon Café in Saranac Lake, NY 

    Edited By: Lindsey Yost, Abbie Wehner

    Attendees: Zach Snavely, Leigh Eubank, Bryan Ringgold, Stephen Nowack, Bob Emery, Whitney Emery, Otto Emery, Rob Kinzel, Lindsay Yost, Meriweather Hardie, Hannah Darrin. 

    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.


    -Activity: write down one highlight in your career for NOLS (a moment you are most proud of), write down one item/topic that has been frustrating in your NOLS career, and write down one thing that you love about working for NOLS.

    - Announcements from the NIA and what successes there have been as outcomes from the NIA

    - Solicitation of information on some themes (Mentorship, Travel Reimbursement, Survival Salary, and Northeast Specific concerns, as well as room for other topics)

    Announcements included a general overview of what the NIA is, and successes in the past (seminars, staff newsletter, Pro Deal Privileges, ID Fund), and what the NIA is currently advocating for (travel reimbursement, and equitable international pay)


    Mentorship – began with an explanation of the new mentorship program. More ideas and thoughts around the mentorship program below.

    •Could mentors act as advocates for their mentees within staffing?

    •Can staffing monitor new instructors and pair them with a first CL that can automatically act as a mentor? –

    ◦Likely not, however, PSUPs can urge good relationships between mentors and mentees after a first course debrief. The relationship doesn’t need to end after someone’s first debrief.

    •Are mentors prepared to offer financial advice?

    •How are the mentors vetted, beyond just the application process? Are the mentors NIA members, or do they need to be NIA members? No, mentors and mentees need not be members of the NIA. -Ed.


    Salary – when prompted “what is a salary that is sustainable?” and what is the difference between surviving and saving?

    •$40,000 is how much would be sustainable. This might be perceived for someone interested in saving. This is the cost of highly trained professionals, and what would be the ideal yearly paycheck for someone to remain as an instructor for a long time.

    •$20,000 would be ideal for someone starting out and satisfies most introductory staff.

    •Discussion around Semi-Annual Faculty Position (SAFP):

    ◦Would be great for those who are not ready to commit to AFP and that number of weeks, but would be financially more stable. All in favor of this idea.

    ◦In the Semi-Annual Faculty Position would there be health benefits and travel reimbursement?  A person has to work a certain number of days per year to get health benefits, and SAFP wouldn't meet this threshold. Also, NOLS spends a surprising amount of money on benefits for existing AFP folks. -Ed.

    ◦Would there also be 18 people? The NIA is considering advocating for 6. Currently there are 11 people on Field AFP, one 50/50 AFP, and six or seven WMI AFP. Fewer AFP slots means fewer opportunities to get on AFP, but it also means there more contracts to go around for non-AFP faculty. It’s a double-edged sword. -Ed.

    Travel Reimbursement – Discussion around travel reimbursement 

    •In a perfect world travel would be covered for all instructors. Not all were in agreement with this statement

    ◦The idea would be that too much flying would happen

    ◦Flights are already a huge carbon footprint for NOLS

    ◦Are there other ways that folks in certain areas can be employed in the off season, and fly less

    ▪Can instructors do marketing jobs in certain areas (i.e. hometowns) to get their travel paid for?

    ▪Skill sessions that are short and maybe only a day or two similar to the REI/EMS skill outings

    Staff concerns – 

    •Can the age for the PIC be lowered from 25? Can this be a topic for the NIA to discuss and advocate.  We will ask staffing their thoughts on this question and share any further information with the NIA. -Ed.

    ◦Reason behind this: the desire to work in this field of work, before settling down, and starting a family in the late 20’s early 30’s.

    NIA Related Concerns and Questions – 

    •What is the NIA’s long term vision of success? Something other than a mission statement. “what would the NIA look like in 1, 5, 10 years in order for the organization to call itself successful?”

    •Can the NIA advocate for instructors receiving therapy sessions as a health benefit of working for NOLS? Once a month sessions for instructors? What about after a traumatic incident?

    •Communication from the NIA to other instructors is still perceived to be low.

    ◦Attendees took ownership that the lack of communication is on both sides

    ▪Details about the new website were distributed and NOLS Talking, and the NIA facebook pages were mentioned

    ▪Positive feedback on the new site, a huge success in showing this during the NIA meeting

    ▪Easy to navigate and colorful

    ◦Are there numbers and factsheets available? To increase transparency about where the funds/dues are going?  Instructors are questioning “why there are dues to join the NIA?” 

    From the FAQ on the Join tab of our website: 

    "The money we collect from members funds all of our operations: visibility projects including posters, hats, stickers and tee shirts; refreshments during meetings; (also Flamingo Fund projects-Ed.) this website, et cetera. We don't receive any funding from NOLS. 

    Even more importantly, a contribution is the means by which we differentiate members from non-members. Otherwise we could claim that all instructors are automatically NIA members. The Board of Trustees and Executive Director Team would likely find this unconvincing. 

    We think our dues are quite reasonable: only $20 per year if you renew automatically.  That's less than $2 a month.  By means of comparison, Walmart Associates pay $60 each year in dues to their representative organization (O.U.R. Walmart).” -Ed.

    ◦Can there be a Q&A session in the staff newsletter a question submitted and NIA answered?

    NOLS Northeast Specific Flamingo Fund Ideas 

    •A bike to commute to and from the cabins

    •Staff canoe

    New Members:

    Bryan Ringgold

  • Tuesday, June 09, 2015 3:17 PM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA PNW Branch Meeting Notes June 9, 2015 7pm

    Hosted by: Liz Riggs Meder

    Notes by: Liz Riggs Meder

    Edited by: David Durant, Annemarie Vocca

    Attendees: ~25 instructors and in-town staff (the number kept growing throughout the evening)

    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.




    The meeting opened by touching on some the current focal points of the NIA:

    • Faculty Engagement

    • Mentorship

    • Compensation

    We then talked about ways the NIA has been supporting instructors recently. One focal point over the last year has been the NIA’s advocacy for revised international instructor pay scales. The CTF is now in the process of re-evaluating international in-town compensation.

    We then opened up the floor to any matters that those present wanted to discuss.

    What are the demographics of the NIA? What are the demographics of the instructor pool?

    This lead to lengthy discussion about the role of the NIA and how the NIA actually represents the voice of instructors. From this discussion several questions came up that those present would like to know about the general instructor pool and thought that the NIA could be a part of making this demographic information available:

    1. Who joins the NIA? Is it the most active instructors?

    2. Of all active instructors, what percentage works the bulk of our courses? i.e. Do 15% of instructors work 85% of the courses? What percentage of instructors only work one course per year?

    3. Who is doing the most work? How many instructors that aren’t AFP or Sal Fac are working full time?

    4. For those that don’t work full time for NOLS what are they doing for other work? How are people making this lifestyle work? Prior corporate jobs? Assistance from parents or other family members? Partners with other jobs? Creative living arrangements and extreme frugality?

    Much of this data already exists, we just need one person with access that can summarize it. The other data can easily be obtained through a survey. Liz brought up the suggestion of a Faculty Advocate and several thought this person could be someone what HR could give access to those numbers so that they could parse and communicate it to the instructor pool.

    How does the NIA represent me?

    From this conversation came another discussion about understanding how the NIA represents instructor voices. This was a call for transparency in how the NIA determines its platform and an understanding of how the NIA polls its members and is representing its constituents. Basically someone asked, “How does the NIA represent my voice and my viewpoint?”

    How do we represent the voice of in-town staff?

    The other major discussion point was representation of in-town staff. The meeting was well attended by in-town staff, both those who are instructors and those who aren’t. All agreed that in-town staff have a HUGE impact on the student experience and felt that it is beneficial directly for students to have longevity and retention in in-town staff. All also acknowledged that pay was a barrier to that happening. There was discussion on whether or not the NIA should include in-town staff. Some felt that in order to most fully represent people who work for NOLS they should, others wondered if there should be another organization that serves a similar purpose but caters to the unique voice of in-town staff. All seemed to agree that there needs to be more advocacy for in-town staff pay raises.

  • Saturday, June 06, 2015 7:28 PM | Summers Eatmon (Administrator)

    NIA Minutes 6/9/15

    Rocky Mountain Branch Early Summer Meeting Notes

    Facilitated by Nate Meltzer and Dave Durant

    Notes compiled by Michael Froehly, edited by Dave Durant and Annemarie Vocca

    Attendance: 14 Instructors; including 1 Staffing Coordinator, Kyle Drake


    These notes are a compilation of a specific meeting held June 9th and are not a representation of the views or opinions of the NIA. 


    What is the NIA?

    • Dave Durant opens with a brief history of the NIA, its goals, and values.

    Recent issues that the NIA has supported

    • During an NIA meeting at the Rocky Mountain River Base, instructors advocated for having a full day of rescue practice, versus the 1/2 day that was allocated into their briefings. Andy Blair was at the RMRB participating on the River Rescue Seminar and was present at this meeting. A full day of rescue has now been implemented.

    • International pay scale: The NIA provided information to the Compensation Task Force, which came up with a solution that will go into effect next fiscal year (Sept 1st). 

    • Proctor Pay: Proctors are again being paid to aide one section. 

    Current Goals

    • Job Security : Creating more secure year round work for instructors (especially new instructors)

      • Dave Durant: One idea is ½ AFP positions = 12 weeks a year.

      • Dave Durant: Not growing the instructor pool as fast, so that more time can be spent on instructors and their development, and possibly more work could be available.

      • Michael Froehly via Alex Phillips (European Recruitment Coordinator): Using Instructors in a “contract” marketing capacity, teaching a leadership lesson and giving a presentation while also recruiting.

    • Faculty Representation in Decision Making: There are roughly 1,200 staff worldwide, 850 are field instructors…

      • Dave Durant: Possibly create a salaried faculty position that is focused on representing instructors to the EDT and serving on strategic planning committees.

    • Mentorship Program:

      • Nate Meltzer explains the idea of the mentorship program.

      • AFP Field Instructor: how do new instructors build skills, connections, navigating NOLS, and professional coaching?

        • Mentorship program is up and running on the NIA Website, there are a dozen senior instructors who have their bio and contact information on the website and are ready to start mentoring instructors!

        • Mentor Job Description: volunteer, approx. 100+ weeks in the field and/or AFP.

    Other News and Comments

    • Nate Meltzer hosted his first meeting as a new RM Branch Rep! He sees his role as being a liaison between instructors and NIA as well as being a liaison between instructors and NOLS.

    • Senior Field Instructor, has seen issues with being told to “stay available for off season work.” He would like to see more transparency between staffing and all new instructors. Is staffing communicating to instructors that the likelihood of getting off season work your first couple of  years is low?

    • There are also concerns about access to gear at different places. Should all branches allow instructors to borrow gear for personal trips/professional development?

    • Should NOLS help pay for Graduate School?

    • Where do I stand as an instructor? Why am I not getting work?

    • How can NOLS have more international students? Accessing more students all over the world could create opportunities for more diversity in instructors.

    • More resources for development of interpersonal skills, cultural competency, emotional literacy etc.

    • Higher compensation for interns, and more appreciation for interns.

    • Can we open participation in NIA to staff/interns?


    Michael Froehly

    Evan Kurila

    Will Wamaru

    Dave Durant

    Nate Meltzer

    Cody Paulson

    Dan Mills

    Joe Frost

    Andrew Haffenreffer

    Amit Arora

    Oscar Soto

    Jeff Wagner

    Dan Rothman

    Kyle Drake

  • Tuesday, June 02, 2015 8:16 PM | Summers Eatmon (Administrator)

    Alaska NIA Meeting Notes, 06/02/2015

    Facilitated by Sean Williams, NIA President

    Notes compiled by Aaron Divine

    Attendance: 30 people; 20 instructors as well as 10 in-town staff and AK Branch administration.

    Approximately half of the instructors in attendance are current NIA Members including 2 Board Members (Sean & Aaron) as well as Vernal Branch Rep. Forrest Young-Taft.

    These notes are a simple summation of topics discussed at a specific meeting held on the Bandstand at NOLS Alaska on June 2, 2015. The minutes are meant to capture the “flavor” of the meeting, they do not exactly quote individuals and do not intend to solely represent the opinions of the Alaska Branch, participating

    faculty/staff or the NIA.


    Sean began with a brief welcome & introduction of NIA history, values, and overarching goals.

    Discussion Points & Questions in Chronological Order:

    MEMBERSHIP: An instructor/program supervisor asked about current NIA membership numbers – Sean replied that we had recently reported 305 members, nearing the reported historical record of 307 people. He attributed some of the recent rise in membership to a combination of better organization of membership dues since payments moved over to an electronic Paypal based system linked to nolsinstructorassociation.org, more frequent Branch meetings, and increased energy from the NIA Board.


    Another instructor/program supervisor asked what kind of information NIA has access to… whether or not it included Program Evals, Travel Expense Journals, etc?

    • Sean’s response was that NIA does not have any access to such data.

      • An additional question was posed as to whether or not the NIA would request that data and if the NIA thought it would be useful in some way: No answer could be determined so the discussion moved on.


    What is the history of the proctorship pay change?

    • Sean and Janeen Hutchins shared that this was not only a long-term NIA initiative, but that there were many stakeholders at play in this issue, including but not limited to –  Program staff, Branch-level Administrators, individual representatives, as well as the NIA advocating for Proctor pay when serving in Aide roles.


    What about the International Pay-scales? How was/is this being addressed?

    • Responses from Sean included that we had the opportunity to provide input through avenues such as the Compensation Task Force (CTF), program evals, and independent individuals vocalizing to staffing and through NIA representatives. More updates are available at http://nolsinstructorassociation.org/int


    Several in-town employees in attendance wanted to know how the NIA might be able to assist them in representation to advocate for increased pay and improved retention/job security?

    • There was discussion about how the mission of the NIA does not directly include representation of in-town staff; however, a majority in attendance (both field staff and in-town staff) seemed to agree that lobbying for better support of in-town staff does/would have a direct impact on the school and how the field staff are able to operate and succeed in their roles of supporting higher student outcomes.

    • It was suggested that people revisit the available avenues for delivering feedback including and not limited to the CTF, program evals, independent/individuals vocalizing to staffing, the NIA representatives as well as any direct reporting supervisors for those in-town employees.


    Sean introduced the concept of the newly hatched Faculty Mentorship Program being offered in collaboration with NOLS Staffing Office.

    • Another instructor/p-sup asked how the Program Supervisors can better be involved and seemed a little concerned that the newer program might change what they are doing currently. How can it be collaborated to the point of being more inclusive - to include Staffing Office, Program Supervisors and volunteer NIA Mentors? This individual expressed that the best people aligned to serve as faculty mentors are often P-sups.

    NIA BOARD PAY/VOLUNTEERING: An attendee asked a question about pay of NIA Board members. People seemed to want to know if there was a “light at the end of the tunnel” to have more financial support from either NIA dues or contributions from NOLS to support the NIA Board roles.

    • Sean explained the current vetted compensation structure that is allowed for within the NIA can provide some minor compensation for some of the more time consuming designated roles, such as the President and Treasurer, although both pay much less than the minimum wage based off the number of hours necessary to complete the minimum tasks of the role. It was clarified that the NIA does not receive any monies from NOLS to operate. The money used to compensate the very few designated roles within the NIA Board are currently and historically coming from dues – however, at many points in time the compensation is not regularly collected by the designated person in those roles – i.e. it is optional as to whether or not the individual collected the allowed compensation or not.

    • Janeen Hutchins suggested that if we (NIA) wanted to seek opportunities to have NOLS supported/paid positions that advocate and support faculty we could research a Chair position and historically these have existed. The term Faculty Chair, was introduced/mentioned as an example of a possible avenue of NOLS support through the staff endowment.

    COMPENSATION (both field and in-town): The conversation returned back to why doesn’t the NIA represent the in-town staff better?

    • With the number of in-town staff in attendance it sort of made sense that the conversation returned in this direction. A current Program Supervisor, who works primarily in town at the moment, expressed that the NIA is not representing the in-town nature of their employment but rather represents the field portion of their employment, which is only a “small piece” of what their responsibilities are. These sorts of crossover positions seem somewhat unique to NOLS and particularly to the role of representation within the NIA. Some in attendance felt that these positions are often underrepresented…especially when these individuals are serving in in-town positions – which can change back and forth even within one singular season at the same Branch, such as at NOLS AK. Similarly it is not limited to P-sup crossover positions but other in-town positions; there are approximately 3 or 4 instructors performing in-town roles in AK that are neither P-sups nor Admin positions. One in-town staff member wanted to know why in-town seasonal employees, who actually work year-round for the school but perhaps at various Branches, and for long-term (such as the past 7 – 8 years) do not get offered a salary position with benefits? This individual stressed the point (and through visual cues those in attendance agreed) that returning in-town staff are highly valuable to the progress of improving support to courses and faculty, which in turn better serve student outcomes. Another P-sup addressed the challenge of senior field staff  who are faced with making difficult decisions to take a pay cut to work in-town over making more money working in the field. Yet another P-sup suggested that consistent return of senior faculty into p-sup positions also increases the overall outcomes.

    • Sean suggested everyone placing a high priority of everyone in-town and field alike by adding suggestions for change on any type of program evaluation that they have access to. Also he mentioned the notion of being able to potentially add a survey link to up-coming WRAP sheets. He also suggested going to next higher-up supervisors and having an intentional conversation about desired changes.


    • How do others get involved in helping with the NIA? Response included: Join NIA, get/be well self-informed on history and current issues – use the NIA website as a starting place nolsinstructorassociation.org, run for open offices on the NIA so that available volunteer seats never sit vacant.

    • Does the NIA support greater efforts to involve international people, on the NIA Board, in the Staffing Office, etc?

      • It was mentioned that currently 2 of the 12 Board members are international people. The staffing office has mentioned they were interested in potentially hiring an international person but were challenged by Immigration Visa issues limiting the long-term availability.

    • Is there any hope of NOLS being able to provide additional off/shoulder-season work opportunities?

      • Sean responded that part of the NOLS strategic initiative is to level out the 3 field seasons to allow for better predictability of consistent work for field staff. And, there is hope that with the development of the Mentorship program that potential networking opportunities for off-season work outside of NOLS will grow or be better shared community wide.


    Five individuals paid NIA memberships following the meeting.

  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015 9:02 PM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report on the Faculty Morehead Committee Meeting



    Marco Johnson, Facilitating

    Committee Members Present in Person

    Dave Durant, NIA Board

    Abbie Wehner, NIA Board

    Allie Maloney, NIA Board

    Nate Meltzer, NIA Branch Rep

    David May, NIA Member

    Mike Froehly, NIA Member

    Committee Members Calling In

    Sean Williams, NIA President

    Annemarie Vocca, NIA Board

    Summers Eatmon NIA Board

    Anna Talucci, NIA Member

    Notes by Dave Durant

    The invitation to attend was open to all Faculty, not just NIA members.

    Historical Context

    Before the meeting was called to order, Marco was asked to provide some historical context for the current meeting, as well as some information as to how this Committee relates to the strategic planning process.  

    NOLS convened its first “Staff Relations Committee” in 1996 to generate feedback from the Faculty.  The administration soon realized that they could analyze the data they collected more efficiently and better know what questions to ask with professional help.  Morehead, an outside company, was first hired in 2003.  Since then they’ve conducted surveys of NOLS employees every three years.

    Currently, NOLS utilizes two committees to help interpret the data generated by the Morehead Survey and suggest next steps.  One committee is composed of people who work primarily in-town.  The other is the Faculty Morehead Committee, which is made up of folks who work primarily in the field.  Linda Lindsey heads the in-town committee, and Marco passes on the suggestions of the Faculty Morehead Committee to Linda.  Each year a representative from one of the Morehead Committees brings their suggestions to the Board of Trustees.

    Although the Morehead Committees have no formal relationship to the strategic planning process, there is a desire on the part of the Administration for the two Morehead Committees and the five Committees working on Vision 2020 not to tread the same ground.  Given this, the agenda for the May 20th meeting was:

    • Instructor Job Security

    • Faculty Representation/Engagement in School Wide Decision Making

    • Travel Plan

    Job Security

    The Committee members chose to discuss this topic first, and spent more time on it than any other.   

    Marco began by acknowledging that many Instructors are concerned with their ability to get work outside of the summer season.  The former iteration of the Morehead Committee had recommended internships, temporary in-town work, and improved mentorship as possible ways to ameliorate the status quo.    

    The current Committee floated the idea of Semi-Annual Faculty Positions (SAFP) as a way for high performing instructors to attain more sustainable schedules and as a stepping stone to a full time career NOLS instructing.  The Faculty Morehead Committee doesn’t have the power to create this position (or any other, for that matter), so the discussion remained on the big picture level.  That said, Committee members were imagining something along the lines of a 12 week per year commitment, without health or retirement benefits, but perhaps with increased travel reimbursement, and some amount of paid training. (N.B.: According to Marco, paid training and travel benefits could not be considered before the FY2017 budgeting process.)

    Some background about the current AFP program was given.  Currently there are 17 AFP spots for Field Instructors, of which 16 are occupied, and four spots for Crossover Instructors (50% Field, 50% WMI), of which one is occupied.  There are five WMI Instructors on AFP.  NOLS spends approximately $11,000 per annum on benefits (Health Insurance, Travel Reimbursement, Retirement Contributions) for each AFP Instructor.

    Marco pointed out that any position  with a guarantee of field work (AFP and Salaried Faculty, or “Sal-Fac,” positions) means a decrease in available work for other instructors.  He asked if we would still advocate for such a position under these circumstances.  Committee members pointed out that any honest discussion around contract scarcity relative to contract demand would need to consider the driver of this demand, which is the size of the Instructor pool.  The Committee went on to imagine an Instructor pool which would be slightly smaller, or at least not growing as quickly but with  more intentionally mentorship.  In Fiscal Year 2014, 849 people taught courses for NOLS.  (This includes field and classroom courses; NOLS Pro and NOLS WMI.)  In 2015, 111 people will take ICs, and, on average, one or two are not  ready for hire each year. 

    To express the same idea using different words, we imagined a system where demand for specific hard-to-fill roles (e.g. Sailing or Horse-packing CL) is met by additional and even more finely crafted training progressions, rather than by creating labor pool with an over abundance of new instructors, many of whom will give up working for the school long before they are able to fill one of these positions.  (We acknowledge that well developed initiatives are already in place to address this, including for the two examples given above, but feel that more work could be done in this area still.)

    Marco noted that last year all eligible and available IC grads were offered a contract.  The committee members feel like this is a step in the right direction, and offered their appreciations.  However, it was noted that there is a difference between being offered a contract and having a sustainable amount of summer work.  This led to a discussion of shifting school schedules have forced NOLS to cluster more courses in the middle of the summer. This creates far fewer opportunities for a given instructor to work back-to-back 30 day courses.  

    Marco informed us that this year “Instructor need” will peak on July 16th with 348 Instructors in the field.  Peak need in the Fall will occur in late October, when about 152 Instructors will be in the field on the same day.  This discrepancy forces NOLS to hire instructors that it cannot  employ in the off season.  Marco ask if we’d support capping the number of courses that run mid-summer, in order to create a more even distribution of work throughout the year, or at least to arrest the growing inequality between Summer and off-season.  One Instructor present immediately answered “no,” stating that he didn’t believe doing so would be serving the NOLS mission.  Others gave a “yes,” or a “maybe, I’d like to think about it more.” Ideas were floated about how we could shift college students, who also have a long Winter break, from courses in July to courses in January, when there are relatively few fieldwork opportunities.  One example would be more stand alone front country climbing camps.  (One of these was run last January out of the Southwest, and enrolled well.)  Marco encouraged Faculty who have ideas for new course types to engage with Branch Directors, as well as Admissions and Marketing directly.

    One Instructor present brainstormed that NOLS could help instructors find off season work by publicizing opportunities outside of NOLS that dovetail with the school's fieldwork schedule.  The example he gave was substitute teaching in the local school system.  It was noted that this could be done by the NIA, as well, either as a formal program, or by informal sharing of individual ideas along the channels this NIA already maintains (website, Facebook group).  To do this as a formal and ongoing program would take money that would have to be repurposed from somewhere else in the budget, whether that was the NIA budget or NOLS’ budget.

    Marco asked us if we supported increasing the number of shorter (<10 day) courses as a means of creating more contracts.  One committee member was against this for philosophical reasons, stating that she didn’t believe these courses were necessarily an effective means for delivering the core curriculum.  Another member pointed out that shorter courses may lead to a greater number of contracts, but that didn’t necessarily mean a sustainable amount of work.  In general, the committee was receptive to the idea of shorter courses.  One member, who has worked several Archer School contracts, spoke about how they served as important stepping stones in her career and was happy to have had those opportunities.  All agreed that shorter courses should be viewed as gateway products, and used as an opportunity to encourage students to take a longer course in the future.

    Finally, there was a discussion about the transition from PL to CL.  Instructors present felt that this process seems to work differently for different people, and that it still isn’t entirely transparent.  At times the FIQPEs are characterized by program staff as being a necessary, but not sufficient, list of qualifications, and program staff has not always been able to articulate clearly what else may be required for the CL assessment.  Marco encouraged Instructors who are feeling challenged by this process (for instance when a CL’s assessment of their PL is not upheld by the Program Supervisor, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear or accurate reason) to engage with the Staffing Office, since they are also involved in the conversation.  

    Faculty Representation and Engagement

    An NIA Board Member present floated the idea of a Sal-Fac position for a “Faculty Advocate.”  This person would spend half their time instructing for the school (field, classroom, or both) and the other half working to gather input from NOLS’ largest working group, the 850+ member faculty, and represent their interests, concerns, and creative ideas to the EDT and other decision makers.  They could be present at EDT meetings, and serve on some of the five committees that comprise the Vision 20/20 strategic planning process.

    Marco himself pointed out that of the 11 people participating the current discussion, he was the only one being compensated for his time.  The other ten of us were  volunteering.  It was noted that there are precedents for faculty to be paid for their input.  One would be the Bear Protocols Committee convened after the Alaska bear attack incident.  We discussed how, as a stop-gap measure until a Faculty Advocate could be hired, individual Instructors could be paid their daily teaching wage for days spent serving on one of the Vision 20/20 Committees.

    We spoke about how the NIA president is only currently invited to one of the three Board of Trustee Meetings each year.  This is a recent development (2014), and stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of the School’s history (1975-2014), when the NIA president sat with the Trustees at each of their meetings.  The general sentiment was that this new development is counter productive for fostering Faculty Representation, and unfortunately (but no doubt inadvertently) sends a negative message from the BoT to working Instructors.  

    Finally, we discussed how NIA generated surveys that gather info from Faculty could be more widely publicized if they were linked from the Staff Newsletter or WRAP Sheet, or from the e-mails which announce these things.


    Marco mentioned that the Faculty travel budget has grown to almost $500,000.  One committee member said that he perceives the ease and speed of the reimbursement process as a continued point of frustration for field instructors.  Marco gave some helpful hints, including that TEJs can be submitted once the outbound leg of the journey has been completed.  There was a request for a link to the most updated version of the TEJ to be included on the e-mail that goes out with each contract.

    There was also a call for NOLS to commit to 100% travel reimbursement as part of the next Strategic Plan.  It was acknowledged that while this might be rare in the field of Outdoor Education, and that some NOLS-like companies may not offer any travel reimbursement at all, the norm in the United States is for employers to pay for long distance travel when it is an integral part of the job.

    One creative idea proposed was to increase funding for travel by diverting the funds used for the gain share in years when the school exceeds its revenue projections.  Since the gain share is given as a percentage of the money already earned by an individual in a given year, those who make the least receive the least and presumably have the greatest financial need. Conversely, those who have already made the most recieve the most.  We could use these funds (> $1,000,000 in 2014, according to an email sent from John Gans on 10/30/14) to establish an endowment out of which future travel expenses could be paid.

    There was strong agreement amongst the committee participants that the weeks worked requirement to qualify for a travel reimbursement for attending the Faculty Summit should be abolished or lowered.  The consensus was that the current policy discourages Summit attendance for newer Instructors who stand to benefit the most from it.


    This session felt productive.  Committee members felt heard, and appreciate the opportunity to deliver feedback up the organizational ladder.  We look forward to hearing how our ideas are received by Linda Lindsey, the Executive Director Team, and the Board of Trustees.

  • Saturday, May 02, 2015 7:29 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    General Meeting Notes

    May 2, 2015

    Commenced at 6:35pm at the Colter Loft with approximately 50 people in attendance, pizza and beverages were provided.

    Sean Williams (SW), Allie Maloney (AM), all other names  are written out.

    Sean Williams gave a brief introduction, explained about recent NIA activity, and thanked everyone for coming to the General Meeting. Everyone in attendance introduced himself or herself briefly.

    Open Forum

    Will: Has NOLS recognized the NIA as a legitimate and useful voice for faculty?

    SW: Yes, in my experience NOLS has.  Examples include our participation in the Systems and Services Optimization Audit and the Morehead Committee.  Marco Johnson asked the NIA to compile a group of 10 people to represent field staff and attend a meeting with Marco on May 20,2015 for the Morehead Committee - this is a change from the previous year when only one person whose main role at NOLS is field work was present.  The strength of the NIA is that we come from faculty and provide a way for faculty who do not work in-town to have an independent voice, based primarily on the field perspective.

    AM: Sean has a seat at the Board of Trustees meetings, and our meeting minutes are read and commented on by upper level HQ figures.

    SW: Explained the function of the NOLS Board Of Trustees, and how they meet with the  Executive Director Team to make the big decisions at NOLS.  The International Pay scale decision is an example of our voice being heard by the EDT.  We have 270 members, and our influence is in proportion to our numbers. (310 members as of June 3, 2015)

    Greta: In the context of the NIA re-defining itself and articulating new goals, does the NIA really know what its mission is?

    AM:  We do know what we are here for, it hasn’t changed since 1975 – to directly represent faculty through an organization outside of the NOLS hierarchy.  

    SW:  In the past few years, the NIA has been trying to think of ourselves not just as an oppositional force to demand things that are advantageous for faculty, but also as a communication pathway between faculty and the administration.  We are trying to make the school a better place by being a reliable source of information for instructors and of instructors’ ideas and reactions for administrators.

    Can in-town staff be members?

    AM and SW: No.  The NIA is a Faculty Organization rather than an all employee union.  The NIA Board recently discussed opening NIA membership to the entirety of NOLS staff, but decided that we have a distinct influence and leadership role as Faculty.  The NIA does try to represent and communicate the needs and ideas of in-town staff, and believes that faculty are in a good position to do this due to our close work with branch operations running courses.  In-town staff are invited to Branch Meetings and often participate.

    Is it a conflict to have HQ people being NIA members:

    SW: Not necessarily.  Field staff who work in HQ are invited to be members, and their input and knowledge from their work in HQ is very helpful, especially for the NIA’s goal of helping to educate faculty more widely about NOLS’s finance and operations.  Individual HQ staff decide on their own whether they feel that they might have a conflict due to their particular job at HQ.

    AM: Anyone can come to a meeting, so membership does not affect anyone’s ability to comment and have an influence.

    Current goals for the NIA

    SW: Membership is up, awareness is up! The website is a way to engage, and to participate in the NIA travel survey and discussion forums.   The NIA’s goal is, and always has been, to foster the exchange ideas among faculty, decide on collective positions that can be supported by most, communicate those to HQ, and communicate HQ reactions to instructors.  “Two-way street.”  We had 13 Branch Meetings in 2014,  goal for 2015 is to maintain and increase branch meetings and NIA branch rep role.  Branch Meetings are the core of the NIA’s ability to gather and exchange ideas.  People like communicating their ideas in person.  Other goals include continuing our strong membership drive, keeping momentum from last year.  Membership is currently 40% of field instructors (including WMI).  One Board of Trustees member suggested 80% as a number that would guarantee that our voice will be listened to and sought out.  A positive role with the NOLS administration means that we can expect to be sought out as a means to help with planning and decision-making.

    What we are doing right now

    Mentorship Program

    SW: As faculty we get a lot of mentorship from our co-instructors for a few weeks but maybe never see them again.  Longer-term relationships with staffing and program supervisors are challenging since they have a lot of other things to do; you are just a single piece for their puzzle. The Mentorship Program that the NIA and Staffing are collaborating on will rely on unpaid volunteers who will have no other responsibility or goal beyond supporting their mentees however they can.  The goal is to build long-term relationships that instructors can rely on for guidance, based on personal connections over months or years.  We are looking for people with other jobs in addition to NOLS as well, to provide mentorship to NOLS instructors looking for a  career change or a career addition.

    Rachael:What is enrollment in the Mentorship program so far?

    (Since the May Meeting the official Mentorship Program was Launched on the NIA website with over ten mentors currently available and more who have expressed interest in becoming one.)

    AM: We have curriculum or class nuggets available at the faculty summit.

    Summers Eatmon: We hope to compile more resources and make them available online as well.

    Open Forum Continued

    Question: How do local townspeople feel about NOLS’ presence in the places we operate?

    SW: In-town staff would probably know better what relations are like place to place. What we can do as instructors in continue to be respectful of the communities where we work.

    Why is travel taxed?

    The NIA hopes to post information on NIAvous about travel and the legal/tax requirements.  [Domestic travel for US taxpayers seems to be taxed at 6%, while international travel is not taxed.  We do not know the reason for these numbers.]

    Surveys that are issue based and branch meetings are helpful, but it’s a different thing to really participate! How can we participate more in the NIA?

    SW:  Recruit, recruit, recruit!  Big membership numbers are what make our voice heard and sought out.  Maintain your own membership, take the time and energy to re-enroll when you expire or sign up for the new Recurring Payments system.  Find ways to learn about specific topics and spread what you learn – write an article or a forum post, tell people you know.

    The NIA seems to me to be struggling with legitimacy, members of our generation don’t join things, 20 bucks is a lot of  money.  I belong to a union who sends out surveys which are regularly filled out by at least 80% of members and used by the administration.  Can the NIA do the same thing?

    AM:  We have created multiple surveys available online and via the website, recently for Travel Compensation and the International Payscale change. These have been advertised on Facebook and via blast emails. The maximum number of participants has been 47.

    SW (referencing legitimacy and dues):  Dues help with our Visibility Program and Daren Opeka, the NIA Treasurer is paid for doing relatively tedious work, including managing our taxes, the website, and Paypal accounts.  The President has historically been paid a stipend.  The NIA Board currently chooses to volunteer their time for the NIA, decreasing their available time for other paid work.  Having the funds to provide more Board Members with some compensation might guarantee more long-term, consistent work, as well as the expectation that the many good ideas from faculty and administration for NIA projects actually get carried out.


    Donations to the NIA go to the Flamingo Fund, for branch improvement projects like better Internet at the RM?

    SW: Yes, a current Flamingo Fund project is for a stereo for the PNW staff house.   Dues pay for visibility (T-shirts, stickers, belt buckles, etc.), the website, and Board stipends, while Flamingo Fund donations pay for branch improvements.

    Landon: Are annual dues the best way to contribute, could we barter for work? (Since the meeting Landon has been working with Jeff Buchanan to prepare a document simplifying and explaining the NOLS’s financial situation.)

    SW:  Money is actually helpful.  Managing infrequent volunteers can be very time-consuming; organizing people to do $20 worth of work might not produce great results.  

    Will: What can we do, what can we do ourselves to help?

    Jess: How can we submit ideas?

    Dave: Lets make a wish list!

    Hannah: Online YouTube videos for students, can we do this for classes in the field?

    NIA response is that the website is available for commenting by all members and is the resource we have created to allow flow and communication of all the ideas and questions above, it just needs to be utilized.  We could easily post videos if faculty members took the time to make them and submit them.

    SW: Question for members who receive our emails - we want to work on making sure people are getting them and opening them. We also do not want to send too many.

    Jessica:  Emails are helpful and not too many in number.

    Greta:  More emails would be great, would like to know more, not feeling swamped by NIA communication.

    Ira: Thanks for all your hard work, as a new instructor it is really great to be joining an organization with an active faculty organization that is working hard to support us and communicate our ideas to the administration.

    Questions that came out of this meeting

    Which travel reimbursements are taxed, and why?

    Answer from Rendezvous:Per the IRS, travel within the US is taxed, with the burden shared between the individual and NOLS (about 6% for the individual).  International travel is not taxed.


  • Saturday, May 02, 2015 12:50 AM | Annemarie Vocca

    April 25, 2015

    RMRB NIA Meetings Notes

    Facilitated by Forrest Young-Taft

    Notes compiled by Forrest Young-Taft

    Attendance: 11 people; 9 instructors 2 in town staff; Andy Blair joins meeting in process


    These notes are a compilation of a specific meeting held April 25th and are not a representation of the views or opinions of the RMRB nor NIA.

    • FYT opens up with brief NIA history, values, and overarching goals.

    NIA- Specific Comments:

    • Laura has noticed that over the last five years or so, a lot of new energy has been brought to the NIA.  How does the NIA plan on being seen more seriously? Are the communications to the EDT and BOT taken seriously? How can this improve?

    • Justin asked how can he have a louder voice in this community and not just be a silent member.

      • FYT advocated for individuals joining in on dialogue more regularly: both on NIA website and at branches.

    • What is NIA doing recently?

      • International instructor compensation is discussed.

      • Justin asks about how NIA is represented internationally.  FYT explains the branch rep system.

      • Mentorship program – Justin asks if this mentorship process can happen in the field.  Can we work with the Staffing office in order to get a mentor and mentee to work together?

        • It seems like a great idea and it would be good to get face to face time in the field.

    • FYT explains past NIA platforms: healthcare and instructor compensation.

      • Ben asked if there is any healthcare for part time instructors

        • Laura clarifies that there is no health-care for part-time instructors.

    • How to get involved in NIA. Membership costs and how to sign up.

    • Laura signed up for reoccurring payments, Micah Garret 1st time member, Mike Dolly 1st time member, Tim Hendricks 1st time member

    River Program Specific Comments:

    • Justin advocates for a full day of river rescue training per briefing.
      • Currently there is a half day, but the logistics of getting on the water near Vernal actually requires a full day.  People end up putting in extra time if they want to get on the water.
      • It is clarified that it is very similar for climbing instructors out of the RM and rafters at the TVB.

    • Steve Wescott feels it is more difficult for River instructors to get field weeks than other instructor communities.
      • Although river courses are shorter, we see more students and go through the same progression.

      • Can we have weighted weeks for instructors who have shorter course types?

    • FYT mentions frustrations that he hears often: Are river courses set up to deliver the full leadership progression as effectively as longer courses?

    • Justin: Can we run a Whitewater River semester?  It seems doable.

      • There’s discussion on how this could work.  A whitewater WMR?

  • Friday, April 24, 2015 7:50 AM | Annemarie Vocca

    April 14, 2015

    NOLS India Base NIA Meeting Minutes,  

    Hosted by Annemarie Vocca and Prasad Gadgil

    Notes by Ellie Chikkaraju and Annemarie Vocca

    These notes are a compilation of a specific meeting held April 14th. This is not a representation of the views of the NIA or NOLS India.

    People in Attendance:

    Annemarie Vocca, NOLS India Program Supervisor and NIA Board Member

    Prasad Gadgil, HCE Instructor and NOLS India NIA Base Representative

    Nic Letourneau, SSI Raft Instructor and new NIA member

    Gaurav Gangola, HCE Instructor and NIA member

    Manohar D’Silva, NOLS India Program Supervisor and NIA Member

    Mani Aryal, SSI Raft Instructor and NIA member

    Anvesh Thapa, SSI Raft Instructor and new NIA member

    Mandeep Nandal, SSI proctor and NIA member

    Kamakshi Sahai, SSI Hike Instructor and new NIA member

    Anna Horn, SSI Hike Instructor

    Evan Horn, SSI Hike Instructor and NIA member

    Ellie Chikkaraju, HCE Instructor (renewing membership when she returns to PNW for summer)

    Ravi Kumar, NOLS India Program Manager and NIA member

    Sanjeev Kumar, Current Raft IIT

    Sunitha RaviKumar, NOLS India Rations and Finance Manager

    Vinay Chandra, NOLS India Programs Assistant

    AMV: Welcome! NIA: What, why, who, and how to join or be more involved. Referenced Sean’s write up in the recent Newsletter and focused on the idea of being a clearinghouse of solution-oriented ideas that serves the NOLS faculty body. Individuals were encouraged to brainstorm ways NOLS India could utilize Flamingo Funds, if they were allocated.

    Public Service Announcement:

    NIA is helping Marco Johnson get more instructors involved in the analyzing of Moorehead Survey results as well as brainstorming potential solutions.  This meeting will take place in Lander on May 20th from 9am-1pm. If interested, please let Annemarie know as she will be joining via Skpye 8:30pm- 1:30am IST.

    Review/introduction of NIA Platforms and Hot Topics:

    Three groups were created, each with a print-out of a different topic to introduce.

    1) Faculty Engagement

    2) Updated Travel Plan

    3) Idea of fostering an intentional mentorship program

    Faculty Engagement:

    Nic summarized this platform:  Aiming at increasing communication both upwards and downwards within the school.  Promote a culture where instructors take initiative to stay informed on issues at the school. Importance of effective collaboration throughout various working groups.


    EH:  Talked about NIA website and how there are discussion topics but for some reason there is minimal engagement.  Why aren’t instructors engaging?

    AMV:  Are there other ways to reach out to the majority of the faculty body? Are we putting too much emphasis on the interweb? For example only 37 instructors participated in the Survey on International Pay.


    NL:  There is value in mixing between departments and engaging on a personal level.  i.e Staffing department working in the field, debriefing students, etc. in order to foster relationships with field staff.  In some areas it just doesn’t make sense (IT, marketing, etc).

    NL:  Really likes the idea of branch reps and having an NIA meeting once/season/branch. Prioritizing face to face meetings seems effective. He mentioned that this is the first NIA meeting he has had the opportunity to be a part of.  He also brought up the point that if NIA is going to use technology, we should make sure to use it as effectively as possible.

    Travel Plan Update:

    EC summarized the travel plan update.  NOLS can no longer reimburse part-time NOLS instructors for health insurance due to a change in the Affordable Care Act. The aim is for staff to be reimbursed up to 70% of their travel costs.


    EC:  Talked about how she values being able to travel and work internationally and likes being able to make that choice on a personal level.  If NOLS covered 100%, staffing decisions would be way more financially driven.

    NL:  Feels that the travel plan is 100% better than what it used to be. As a Canadian, he appreciates the improvements since becoming an instructor.


    MA:  As the only Nepalese Instructor, he feels that he is excluded from the travel plan. Is his allotted $950 based on his travel costs or Indian Instructors’ travel costs? He is consistently spending $1800 per year.  $950 is less than 50% of his costs. He finds it challenging to book plane tickets early because of acquiring a visa.  J1 visa requires instructors to purchase health insurance, which cannot be reimbursed.  Lastly, having a 3-week break in between contracts is also very costly.  He spent $400 just to sleep & eat last summer.

    AMV:  How can the Travel Plan be inclusive of more faculty? What would that process look like? She encouraged those that feel they are not included, to present actual numbers and receipts to the Travel Plan Committee to help advocate for themselves. It could be more effective to present data that illustrates spending more than 70%, versus just vocalizing their concerns.


    AT:  Can we increase tuition in order to cover 100% airfare?  

    EH: What would it look like to give a flat $1000 to each instructor?

    MD:  Can some of the $425 India in-country travel reimbursement be shifted towards the India international reimbursement?

    The question of whether gain share money could be allocated for travel reimbursement came up. Evan explained that it is impossible to plan ahead for gain share, as we don’t get it every year. Evan brought great perspective to this topic from his work in the staffing office. This was very beneficial for helping others gain awareness.

    Intentional Instructor Mentorship:

    Mentorship seems to be a hot topic these days. Out of the three topics discussed, this one seemed to gain the most interest. We brainstormed ideas that can help increase mentorship for newer instructors. Everyone recognized that mentorship is very important for the success of most staff. 


    Those in this meeting acknowledged that some level of mentorship was a key component in their personal successes at the school. 


    • All believe that mentorship would be most effective when combined with a high level of personal connection. Can this be done effectively via email?
    • How can there be more continuity with program supervisors instead of being briefed/debriefed by different P-Sups?
    • Does retention of program supervisors play a part in this?
    • Are we pushing instructors into the Course Leader position too quickly?


    RK:  As a WMI instructor, he believes that WMI has an excellent model for mentorship.  Course Leader’s wage takes into account intentional mentoring of junior staff.  Is it possible to consider aspects of this?


    NL:  Can we have head instructors for each skill type?  Your job is to make sure there is quality relationship building and mentorship going on.  The money that is already budgeted for and allocated for AFP could be used for these “head instructor” positions.

    EH:  Chief/head instructors could be travelling around the world to update curriculum as well as mentoring folks.  Provides consistency in the message – worldwide.  Work 4 days before and/or after contract.

    AMV: As program supervisors, it is our job to mentor and advocate for staff. We can be more deliberate about creating continuity and fostering the same level of rapport with instructors as we expect instructors to have with students. Whether there is only one p-sup at a base or ten, our level of support for instructors should be consistent.  As individuals, we can be more cognizant of this. Although, it may seem that the Staffing office is always busy- mentoring instructors is typically why they chose to be in that role.  Call them- email them- create a personal relationship with those who are directly connected to instructor advocation.

    International Pay Scale:

    The meeting ended by making sure everyone understood the outcome of the Discrepancy Issue at hand. Indian Instructors present for the meeting appreciate that 1) a solution has been decided upon and 2) that it will take effect September 1, 2015 and revised every January, based off data from the IRS website.

    NOLS India looks forward to receiving the next Compensation Task Force update with regards to in-town pay discrepancies.

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