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Advocacy for In-town Employees

The NIA recognizes the essential role that in-town employees play in supporting excellence on all NOLS courses. Students and instructors alike benefit from stable, well-trained and well-compensated support staff. Advocating for in-town staff supports our mission “to advocate for employee views and work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.”

Effective operations staff such as issue and rations managers contribute directly to both success and contentment for faculty. Our view is that more experienced staff are generally more effective and that NOLS suffers when these positions have high turnover, as at present. Among in-town staff, program supervisors have the most direct effect on Expedition faculty. They help us design course progressions, coach students, and grow as educators. Their mentorship is essential for our progression as instructors, and the insight they provide helps us to reflect on our successes and consider our areas for growth. 

When all of these individuals are motivated and engaged, they help us be better educators. High turnover and low job satisfaction make them much less effective. NOLS can do more to support finding and keeping quality individuals in these vital positions.

Next steps for NOLS:

  • Create a system for recognizing hours worked in-town with field weeks. This will allow Expedition faculty who take in-town positions to continue to build seniority and will ease transitions from in-town back to the field and back again, resulting in longer, more sustainable careers and more experienced staff.
  • Increase transparency by including the level (C, D, E, etc.) and pay range for each job when it is posted.
  • Increase compensation for all D-level and below employees to encourage longer tenures and better service.
  • Make in-town job schedules more flexible so that Expedition faculty are able to have stable work while continuing to work in the field.
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