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  • Friday, June 18, 2021 8:12 PM | Elena Chin (Administrator)

    NIA Report

    Elena Chin, NOLS Employee Association President

    June 2021

    Cycles of Community Healing

    As we roll into another busy summer season it feels wild to reflect on how different things were 12 months ago. This time last year, a Covid-19 vaccine seemed like a distant hope, and our choice to resume programs seemed very ambitious. Dave Durant, the then NIA President spoke to ideas for “NOLS 2023,” and did what he could to paint a picture of the impact of the Reduction In Force and an idea for how the school could rebuild.

    We are in such a different place now than I could have imagined.

    The Field Staffing Office, in collaboration with many others I’m sure, has begun implementing a ton of the asks that Field Instructors have been sending up the chain for years -- full travel for expeditions, job security through avenues beyond AFP, career-path support, and so much more. Big changes in hiring and supervision in Wilderness Medicine Admissions are adding much needed support to our future students, and are addressing needs that employees in that department have been asking about for years. Operations is adding staff in key areas, and it seems like the Field Staffing Department(s) will finally live next to Locations and Admissions in the Org Chart. 

    I think back to all of the Blue Sky brainstorming sessions we did in the Field Staffing Office in the years that I worked there, and the things that are happening now were things we barely let ourselves want back then. 

    And here comes the big old “yes, and” that we love so much in adaptive problem-solving.

    For many employees there are feelings of excitement, of possibility, of gratitude for finally being seen. And there are also feelings of exhaustion, of continued mistrust, of frustration that the changes came too late for them. 

    Community healing is non-linear, and our path forward likely won’t be linear either. If we plot NOLS’ organizational response to employee concerns on the “Accountability Ladder*,” many of the above changes would put us somewhere between “Find Solutions” and “Make it Happen,” which is fantastic. For many employees at NOLS, that is enough to go on, and we’re psyched to charge forward. For others, healing and reparations will be needed before we can grow trust again. 

    So for many, the “yes, and” feels really true. Yes, we’re so glad to be seeing these changes, and we’re exhausted from the impacts of Covid-19 and the Reduction in Force. Yes, we can’t wait to see the school move forward, and we’re not sure if we have the motivation to see it through anymore. Yes, these changes seem great, and the core challenges are still unaddressed. Yes, in some ways we’re at “Make it Happen,” and in some ways we’re down the ladder at “We Can’t” and “Blame Others,” or worse, still “Unaware.”

    As we roll into another busy summer season, let’s hold all the nuance in our hearts and minds, and consider the ways in which we can honor all the “yes, and”s and the humans who hold them. 

    If we can do that, who knows what we’ll have space to imagine in our next Blue Sky brainstorms?

    *The Accountability Ladder:

    Imagine each statement as a rung on a ladder. The rungs above the dotted line are generally considered “Accountable Behaviors,” and the rungs below the dotted line are generally considered “Unaccountable Behaviors.” As you move up the ladder, behaviors become more accountable, and as you move down they become less accountable.

    This is a widely-used model, and there are some great Google Images of it out there!

    Make It Happen

    Find Solutions




    Wait and Hope

    “I Can’t”

    Personal Excuses

    Blame Others


  • Monday, January 18, 2021 8:08 PM | Elena Chin (Administrator)

    NIA Report

    Elena Chin, NIA President

    18 January 2021

    I am honored to submit my first NIA report to the Board of Trustees this year on Martin Luther King Day -- a holiday that NOLS recently announced that we would observe. The last 10 months have brought unprecedented change to the world, and looking forward, I hope that we take this moment to make certain that this change for the better. 

    First, let me introduce myself. My name is Elena Chin, I’m a field instructor who’s been working for the school since 2013, and up until the Covid-19 Reduction in Force I was also the Recruitment and Development Coordinator in the Field Staffing Office. I use she/her pronouns (although I’m OK with they/them if that works better for you), and I identify as a cis, straight, half first-generation, US woman of color.

    All of these pieces feel important to me when I think about serving the NOLS community as NIA President. I deeply believe that NOLS is a place where those who want to connect to wild places and grow leadership skills ought to be welcome -- regardless of race, gender, citizenship, or any other identity category. I bring this belief to every course I work, I brought this to my in-town work prior to the Reduction in Force, and currently am bringing this to the work I’m doing on the NOLS JEDI Steering Committee and NIA Presidency.

    We’re also excited to welcome Debra East, Isi Llarena, Nadine Lehner, and John Sims to the NIA Board of Directors! These four bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and perspectives. As you may remember, the NIA recently shifted to welcoming any NOLS employee below the Executive Team Level, a move which we hope will allow for more collaboration between the many people who make the magic happen. We’re particularly excited to have Debra and John as our first non-instructor Board members. You can read the bios of current and emeritus NIA Board members on the NIA website. 

    And now back to this bit about change. 

    In our election process in December we included a survey to ask NIA membership what we should focus on and/or continue to focus on in the next year. We received about 130 responses. Of the the things the NIA is currently working on, compensation, non-executive level employee representation in decision-making, and travel reimbursements ranked above the highest priorities. In the responses to the open-format question “What other important issues should the NIA be working to address?” the largest themes were JEDI work, support for international instructors, and increased transparency. 

    Some of this change is already in the works, and we are excited to support NOLS in this positive momentum. The recent addition of full travel reimbursements and payment of last-minute canceled contracts for field instructors are making a meaningful difference for us, and we would like to express our deep gratitude to the Field Staffing Office and all others involved in making that possible.

    For the other things, we are excited to keep exploring what employee representation, JEDI work, support for international instructors, and increased transparency will look like. The NIA hopes to hold itself accountable in supporting inclusion, access and equity for students, faculty, and staff, and help identify ways to build alignment across our NOLS community. We hope to celebrate the diversity we hold at the school, understand how JEDI concepts unfold in all the countries we operate in, and build transformative awareness among those who are already here at NOLS, so as to welcome those not yet included. Our goal is for the NIA Board to collaborate closely with all levels of NOLS leadership, the Board of Trustees, and all those we represent to help keep us moving forward.

    There is no doubt that 2020 and what we’ve had so far of 2021 have been challenging for our community. Beyond Covid-19, we’ve seen NOLS have its own internal and external reckoning with racial justice, and we found ourselves unpracticed and ineloquent in the critical moment of leadership that came after the murder of Gerorge Floyd. My deepest hope is that we respond to our shortcomings in JEDI work with the same humility and openness that we would after an accident or near miss. If we can find the fortitude to sit in this tension and recognize that the presence of White Supremacy, the dominance of masculinity, and current reality of colonialism, among others, truly are risk factors in our community, then perhaps we can move out of a negative peace which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace which is the presence of justice for all those who make up our NOLS community.

    As we honor Martin Luther King Day for the first time on the NOLS calendar, the NIA Board is thinking deeply about what it can do to support those in our community who are most vulnerable, be that due to finances, citizenship, race, gender, health, or any other factor. It is quite a mission to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment, and I hope that we can live up to that with integrity in ourselves and in service to all those in our community.

    1. This concept is taken from Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” -- a powerful read written in 1963  that gives some interesting insight into what we are seeing continuing to unfold today.  

  • Thursday, November 05, 2020 6:03 PM | Marissa Bieger (Administrator)

    NIA Report

    Summers Eatmon Williams, NIA President

    October 2020

    In September, Dave Durant began a new career and resigned as NIA President, we are happy to say he remains on the Board of Directors and I will be completing his term as President until the elections in December 2020. For this report I decided to take a look back to my previous Board Report in October of 2015 to see what has changed and what we are still striving towards.

    The few months prior to NOLS’ 50th were record breaking for the NIA, seeing a huge increase in membership, and expansion into WMI (Wilderness Medicine Institute) now NOLS Wilderness Medicine. We had 350 members and our website had just launched the previous year giving us record systems and communication avenues of which we were previously incapable. We now have 123 Lifetime Members and have accrued 100 new memberships since 2015.

    Like the rest of the world we meet virtually. This spring in lieu of the Faculty Summit Annual General Meeting we hosted an online event with NOLS President Terri Watson as our guest panelist. Throughout the summer there have been smaller informal zoom meetings to take the place of “Branch Meetings” previously run at nearly every location across the globe each season. In a world that has removed a lot of our previous capacity to interact intimately, the screen and zoom chat sessions have become a vestige of the community once felt at every campus. It certainly is with mixed emotions that I have introduced my new daughter, who is ten weeks old as I write this, to my wide NOLS community through a screen versus kisses and hugs.

    Something that was beginning in 2015 and is incredibly prevalent now is the accessibility of administrative and in-town staff. NOLS administration has begun utilizing virtual meetings. These have created even more opportunity for the ET (Executive Team), faculty, and staff to dialog. These interactions are a benefit to instructors whose questions can be answered promptly and it allows faculty and staff to hear about school issues.

    The NIA has been focusing over the years on travel reimbursements, mentorship, and faculty engagement in decision-making. These topics are consistent themes of concern within the instructor pool. We are not abandoning these issues however we have, like NOLS and the rest of the world, adapted what this looks like. Without work, travel reimbursements are meaningless, as well as mentorship on courses. Faculty engagement has reached new heights with new avenues. We may be a more well informed faculty with more access to ET level employees to answer our questions, however, as employees below the Executive or Director levels we are still less likely to be actually partaking in strategic decision-making discussions. The NIA has revamped our outreach, adding Instagram and new Mentors to our roster. In times of economic loss and disconnection, the ways we stay connected and how we think about moving forward has become increasingly more important. Looking back, the NIA Mentorship Program was officially launched in May 2015. In the spring of 2020, the link to the NIA website was added to the Field Staffing Page on IkoWapi. The spectrum of expertise of mentors spans from senior instructors and branch staff to people who have found success working outside of NOLS.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has morphed into the JEDI taskforce and the NIA supports their efforts to better identify and dismantle the systems of oppression that exist at NOLS.I imagine some of these same systems of oppression are the foundation of the issues that support our call for full travel reimbursements, paid training opportunities, and better mentorship. These same efforts directly correlate to more access to work for folx with less means, less exposure, or less prior experience. We know that instructors often have to make major decisions about when and where they work for NOLS based on travel costs. But before they make decisions about when and where they work, they must be able to entertain the idea of even applying for an Instructor Course and withstanding the job insecurity for the wages offered.

    In 2015 the Moorhead Survey discussions were underway. Ten instructors were able to partake in the discussion of three main agenda items: instructor job security, faculty representation and engagement in schoolwide decision-making, and the travel plan. Job security is something at NOLS that has always been limited and has been affected to an unprecedented degree this spring and summer. Previously we worried about the discrepancy of need that varied year round - the summer peak of roughly 350 people versus 150 in the fall.

    It seemed unreasonable to some to think about capping courses that ran 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. But this has now happened, necessitated by an impossible to predict global crisis. We discussed utilizing new course types and running more short courses that are now becoming available on a regular basis. The new idea of running college-age courses during winter and spring breaks was thought to potentially increase contracts available in the off-season and this has been true to varying degrees.

    The NIA has always offered to be a resource for NOLS administration to provide insight into the life and perspectives of NOLS employees. Most recently the NIA has been sought out to provide input on the impact of cancelled contracts this spring and the NIA seat at each BOT meeting has been reinstated.

    We believe that the next step is to directly and formally include NIA representation in schoolwide decision making. We were excited to see the administration reach beyond Lander and gain a broader perspective of instructor and staff ideas and opinions. We look forward to working with the ET and NOLS President to develop a plan to utilize the NIA to access those voices.

    The NIA Board generated a list of key decisions and topics where employees will benefit from representation. These representatives should be faculty members who earn at least 50% of their yearly NOLS income working NOLS courses or staff below the Director level, rather than top-level who work an occasional contract. We would like to see an NIA-appointed employee representative in the following:

    • All committees making major strategic decisions at NOLS. Current examples of these committees are the Restart Task Force and upcoming Strategic Planning Committees and the new work group tasked with examining the operating model.
    • Committees charged with making changes to faculty training programs, including Instructor Courses, Instructor-In-Training Programs, and seminars.
    • Committees charged with the restructuring of employee compensation and benefits, including the Annual Faculty Program, Salaried Faculty Program, and faculty and staff pay scales.

    At the NIA we believe in and support Terri’s goals, that are referenced here from her Juneteenth 2020 Update, of “restructuring NOLS to more effectively support our educational mission, to devise solutions to address compensation and turnover concerns, address IT and business systems challenges, and to find ways to more meaningfully support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts”. At the NIA we believe that all of our voices combined can help add diversity and varied perspectives from around the globe, levels of seniority, and course types. Together we are stronger.

    In the past five years it is clear to me, that while some things have been reimagined, many things have remained the same. The school is continuing to thrive thanks to the sacrifices of many and nimbleness of the thought processes behind our reopening this summer. Our tolerance for adversity and uncertainty is truly remarkable and something to be proud of as individuals and an institution. Let the next 55 years bring even more positive change, diversity, and fry-bake pizzas to the generations that follow.

    I would like to personally thank you for serving on the Board of Trustees and I look forward to a time we can all meet again. I acknowledge my privilege and access to opportunity when I say the school has held a place in my family’s history for nearly 50 years. I am the daughter of a Wind River Wilderness course graduate from 1971, and in total three members of my family have graduated from six different courses. I came to the school first as a student in 2004 and have since worked and visited branches around the globe. NOLS continues to be an amazing place to work and grow personally and professionally. I would like to be a part of the NOLS legacy that opens the doors even further, one that takes a hard and uncomfortable look at how we operate and who we serve. I look forward to continuing my work at the NIA and engaging with the Board of Trustees and Executive Team to create even greater successes for NOLS and its instructors. And I really look forward to the day when I am sending my daughter on a course in 2035.

  • Monday, May 18, 2020 8:03 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report

     David Durant

    President, NOLS Instructor Association

    June 2020

    NIA Mission

    To communicate and advocate employee views, and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.


    I would like to convey our best regards, from the NIA Board of Directors to the NOLS Board of Trustees, in these exceptionally trying times. I am looking forward to connecting with all of you on June 5th, although I am sure we would all prefer the previously planned in-person meeting in Washington, rather than yet another virtual interaction. I can’t help but reflect on our last meeting in San Diego in February, where a spirit of mutually shared goals prevailed, and COVID-19 seemed little more than a shadow on the horizon. Terri has assured me that the financial damage to the school and the challenges that lie ahead will be thoroughly catalogued elsewhere in this report. I will use the NIA’s space to provide some anecdotal information about the impact on individual instructors of both the pandemic and NOLS’ response to it, before offering a hopeful vision for the future.

    The Human Factor

    When I last reported to you, I had the honor of being one of just a handful of NOLS’ full-time, benefitted instructors. As I write today, I’ve been on hold with Wyoming Workforce Services for a full five hours, hoping to discuss unemployment insurance. I know from the recently held NIA Annual General Meeting, as well as from informal discussions with many recent colleagues, that I am not the only one who has had this experience. I’m aware of another former AFP (Annual Faculty Program) Instructor who now works in the kitchen at the Gannett Grill. Yet another has enrolled in graduate school, starting this summer. His return to the field or the classroom for NOLS seems unlikely, regardless of what transpires with the virus. 

    The decision by the Field Staffing Office to consider all summer contracts to be “on deck” offers, rather than an agreement to provide future work, combined with the strategy of putting off a final decision regarding the remaining July Expedition courses until the end of May, has created a climate of extreme uncertainty for field instructors. On the Wilderness Medicine side, the decision to evaluate each course on a case-by-case basis 30-45 days out, while sensible from a business point of view, has had much the same impact. 

    One senior instructor and program supervisor shared with me that he was initially delighted to have a course on the books out of NOLS Yukon this year. Once the Yukon program was cancelled for the summer, he felt lucky to be offered a contract out of NOLS Teton Valley, even if the replacement course was shorter than the original course. Subsequently, the Teton Valley base was shuttered for the season as well, pushing him significantly closer to seeking non-NOLS work for the summer. Another very senior instructor, a former Course Leader on Denali, is wondering if “banging nails” as an “unskilled laborer” for his brother’s home renovation project wouldn’t offer a more secure income for the summer than the “on deck” offer he currently holds from NOLS.  

    As far as in-town staff go, I’m thinking of a headquarters employee who lost her position in the Reduction in Force. As a new hire, she didn’t earn enough in any quarter of 2019 to qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. What she has been able to collect through the CARES Act amounts to less than $200 per month. More heart-wrenching still, is the predicament of many laid-off non-US workers at our international locations. Some of these individuals have worked at the school for decades, without receiving health insurance or other traditional benefits, and who won’t now receive any assistance from the US government.  Indeed, depending on the country in which they live, they might not receive any government assistance at all. 

    We know from the 2017 Field Faculty Lifestyle Survey that slightly more than half of all field instructors (and no doubt many other NOLS employees as well) neither own nor rent any sort of home. This makes compliance with “stay at home” orders complex. An unknown number of NOLS employees don’t have health insurance. For individuals who have chosen to accept these vulnerabilities as the price to pay for being a NOLS employee, COVID-19 has shattered their tenuous position into many pieces. Not everyone will be able to put these pieces back together again in a way that allows them to return to work for NOLS when programming restarts.

    NOLS 2023

    The latest epidemiological models show the virus making a major impact at least through 2022. There seems to be an increasing consensus that there will be no return to anything resembling “normal” in any facet of life until a vaccine has been developed and widely distributed. Yet we have to maintain hope that at some point NOLS will begin to offer in-person programming again.

    At the NIA, it is our fervent hope that when this does come to pass, we’ll all maintain an open mind. In many ways, NOLS will have to rebuild from the ground up. There is no need to make the mistakes of the past the blueprints for the future. When I imagine NOLS in 2023, I imagine a school organized not around an open-ended drive for growth, but rather around a deep understanding of what it means to truly be “student centered.” The students are the point, and the faculty and staff are how we impact, support, and interact with our students. For our system to serve our students, it must serve our employees as well. 

    In 2023, the NOLS I imagine will still have a modest differential between the amount of field courses offered in the summer versus at other times of the year; yet the pre-pandemic seasonal disparity of employment opportunities for field instructors will have been ameliorated by a new staffing model, in which instructors are either onboarded as AFP instructors with a guarantee of year-round work, or as summer instructors, explicitly contracted to work solely from mid-June until mid-August. The majority of Wilderness Medicine instructors work on a nine month contract matching the academic year, which leaves them free in the summer to pursue work for other organizations or lead NOLS field courses as summer instructors. The lower overall number of instructors leads us to efficiencies in training and supervision, and helps us to recapture some of the deeper and more meaningful sense of community that existed in earlier days, when NOLS was a smaller school. 

    Capping the number of courses offered in midsummer generates a deep waitlist that is then used to fill off-season openings. The resulting sense of scarcity elevates NOLS’ brand image, and before long we become known as “The Harvard of Outdoor Education.” We’re able to leverage this reputation to offer much more expensive courses. These allow us to recapture some of the market share we’ve lost to premium priced competitors. And, of course, this increased revenue is used to subsidize many more, much lower priced, offerings. This ultimately makes a NOLS education accessible to a much broader swath of society, fulfilling a long held pre-pandemic objective. 

    In this vision, a more common sense approach to field supervision prevails, in which senior instructors and those working shorter courses receive a simplified version of the SPE (Staff Performance Evaluation). Because of this efficiency, SPEs arrive in a timely manner, when the feedback is most useful, and fewer program supervisors are able to oversee a given number of courses. A leaner program staff helps create some of the economies needed for all employees to receive a living wage. A majority of NOLS employees have employer provided health insurance and retirement benefits. 

    The first draft of every staffing plan is computer generated. This allows for contracts to be offered days, rather than months, after the work request portal has closed, after the preliminary plan has been proofread by a few humans. Resultantly, instructors have greater certainty about their schedules sooner, leading to increased job satisfaction. The need for staffing coordinators is reduced, and many former staffing coordinators are able to return to course work, now that the majority of instructor positions offer year-round job security and benefits. 

    A system in which NOLS offers more remotely issued courses allows us to lower our carbon footprint by bringing our programming to where our students live, rather than vice versa, as we already do with  Wilderness Medicine courses. This model also makes our operations more resilient in the face of the next pandemic or similar operational challenge. Increased hybrid on-line/in-person Wilderness Medicine offerings allow us to provide courses that are both shorter and cheaper, putting us back on an even footing with SOLO and other competitors.  

    Having made it through the pandemic together, we realize that we truly are all on the same team. Rank and file employees sit—yes, via Zoom, when necessary—on strategic planning committees and perhaps even on the Board of Trustees itself. And at every meeting, right before “Blue Sky,” we discuss how we’ll continue to make our systems more resilient, so that when the next pandemic level event inevitably comes, our human factors suffer so much less.

    Ultimately, it’s not the specifics of this vision that matter, but the principles: student and staff centric, flexible and forward thinking, resilient, and based on mutual goodwill.

  • Monday, January 13, 2020 10:28 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report

     David Durant

    President, NOLS Instructor Association

    February 2020

    NIA Mission

    To communicate and advocate instructor views, and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.

    A Long Term Project 

    As I mentioned to you a year ago in Houston, the NIA Board, in consultation with some very senior NOLS employees, spent 2018-2019 crafting an in-depth Position Paper calling on NOLS to set the long-term strategic goal of a living wage for all employees, and a middle class income for managers.  Several trustees greeted this idea with great curiosity, and a request was made for a summary of this document.  I’ll present that summary here, and the full paper will be available in San Diego.  The full paper includes citations as well as a detailed discussion of how we arrived at our figures.

    The Case for a Living Wage

    NOLS is 55 years old, and has been hugely successful in fulfilling its mission to date.  But the world around us is changing, and if the school is to continue to thrive until the end of the century and beyond, then it must take seriously the impacts to excellent student experiences caused by inadequate compensation, lack of job security, and a changing outdoor jobs market.  

    Long term strategic thinking is not new to NOLS.  As a school, we’ve already made commitments to responsible financial management, protecting our outdoor classrooms, and diversity, equity, and inclusion that will help safeguard our future into the next century.  With admiration and support for the long-term thinking of NOLS’ leadership to date, we believe that NOLS must take a similarly bold and forward-looking approach to providing stable and gainful employment for employees.  We further believe that these successes in the realms of financial management and inclusion can serve as blueprints for the sort of strategic mindset and ethical leadership needed to solve the thorny issues raised by a workforce laboring, for the most part, without the benefit of a living wage.

    With more than $110,000,000 in assets, NOLS is no longer struggling.  Its ability, and thus its responsibility as a business, to provide a living wage to its employees has changed.  Paul Petzoldt used to say that working for NOLS is not a real job and that instructors should stay with the school for a while, and then move on. We believe that for NOLS to survive another 55 years, we must adopt a very different philosophy: that working for NOLS is, in fact, a “real job.”

    In modern times, the day-to-day reality for the vast majority of NOLS employees is grim.  Almost all faculty members, and many in-town staff, work with no guarantee of even short-term future employment.  Indeed, as an “at will” employer, NOLS has absolutely no obligation to honor its “contracts” with faculty. The first line of a faculty Work Agreement reads: “I understand that NOLS may terminate this agreement and my employment at any time, without notice, for any reason.”  The negative impact this has on faculty morale cannot be overstated.  

    When faculty do work, it is at a daily rate significantly below the industry median, and almost exclusively on an irregular basis with no hope of providing an adequate yearly income.  In FY18, the average field faculty pay rate was $123/day.  In 2016, 38.9% of field faculty did not rent or own their own living space, and 31.6% reported that they were struggling to make progress on their NOLS career.  Only 20% worked more than 15 weeks.  Perhaps most tellingly, a majority of field instructors, 56.4%, reported supplementing their NOLS income with income from a non job source, e.g. family support.

    For a wide range of reasons, senior instructors observe that expectations have grown, and instructors in the field work more hours per day and teach more curriculum now than they did 15 or 20 years ago.  We estimate that the typical instructor on the typical course works about 14 hours per day.  This means that an instructor would need 20 weeks of work to achieve a typical 2,000 hour American work year.  According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, the average living wage across NOLS’ U.S. locations would be $10.84/hour.  For an instructor working 14 hour days in the field for 20 weeks, this would equate to a daily wage of $155.  We believe this should be the floor for starting wages at NOLS.   

    NOLS is losing top-tier instructors to a burgeoning outdoor industry that increasingly offers greater job security and higher compensation.  One example is the Chadwick School in California, where the starting wage in 2019 was more than 300% of NOLS’s midsummer starting wage.  As senior faculty choose to pursue more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, more of our courses are staffed by less experienced instructors. The pressure for promotion due to staffing needs, rather than based on performance and qualifications, grows. Our marketing claims that our instructors are the best, highest trained, most experienced professionals in the industry ring hollow.  Just because we started first, way back in 1965, doesn’t mean we will always be at the top.  We have to work to stay there.  

    Simultaneously, excellent potential instructors stay away from NOLS because they fear low pay and slow advancement.  For most in-town staff the situation is similar. At least for U.S. positions, every manager at NOLS seems to have difficulty hiring due to non-competitive wages and salaries. 

    The time may be coming when it is no longer strategically advisable for NOLS to say to most of its employees, implicitly or explicitly, that they should not expect to earn a reasonable living. The excellent performance of faculty to date is an indicator that the attrition of experienced instructors and the quality of incoming instructors is not yet an acute problem. It is, rather, a persistent reality, one that affects our ability, as an institution, to maintain the ever-receding goal of excellence, and one that may presage a slow decline in our effectiveness and standing in the industry. It is not a crisis, but a strategic question. Where does NOLS want to be in 2025, and on what trajectory for 2040? 

    Addressing these Challenges

    In order to address these challenges, and to preserve NOLS as the “leader in outdoor education” until the end of the century and beyond, the NIA calls for:

    • A living wage of $155/day for all entry level faculty and staff.
    • A middle class income of $218/day for Senior Faculty Level I and up and Wilderness Medicine lead instructors.
    • A middle class income with a minimum of $15.25/hour, or $30,519/year if salaried, for program supervisors and for location and HQ positions that manage other employees. 
    • All dollar amounts are in 2020 dollars and would be adjusted for inflation and cost of living in perpetuity.

    Furthermore, we call upon NOLS’ Trustees and Executive Team members to act on these recommendations this year, by setting these as goals to be accomplished by the completion of the next strategic plan.  While meeting these goals would certainly require an aggressive focus on budgeting, expense management, and fundraising, we have confidence that all of these skills are well within the competence of NOLS’ Executive Team and Trustees.  It is worth noting that these goals may not be as lofty as they initially seem.  Indeed, pay rates for some employees are already very close to these thresholds.  For example, in 2020 the starting wage for Wilderness Medicine instructors is $144/day, and the wage for lead Wilderness Medicine instructors starts at $216/day.

    We are proposing goals of over 50% wage growth for a large percentage of NOLS’ faculty and in-town staff. We do not know what percentage of NOLS’ payroll budget would be affected, since the minority of employees who already enjoy higher pay rates take up a higher per-capita percentage of the payroll, but we will take a ballpark, and probably conservative, estimate of 50%. A 50% increase in 50% of wages paid would require a 25% increase in the overall payroll budget.

    As a final note, I wish to emphasize, heavily, that no current NIA board member stands to benefit substantially from these proposed changes.  We at the NIA believe that four to five years from now would be an ambitious, realistic time frame for these minimum standards for a living wage and lower middle class income to be met.  If these goals were set now, the vast majority of current senior NOLS faculty would feel the beginnings of real progress only towards the twilight of their own NOLS careers.

  • Monday, September 16, 2019 6:29 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report

     David Durant

    President, NOLS Instructor Association

    October 2019

    NIA Mission

    To communicate and advocate instructor views, and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.


    On behalf of the NIA and all NOLS instructors, and from one President to another, I’d like to warmly welcome Terri to her new role.  I’ll stop short of saying “welcome back,” because, of course, Terri never left.  She’s been teaching Wilderness Medicine courses each year since 1999, which is long before she worked her last Expedition in 2008, and even before NOLS purchased what was then known as the Wilderness Medicine Institute.

    At Terri’s welcome party in Lander we learned from Greg Avis that more than 400 potential candidates were contacted in the search process.  No doubt this number included many appealing potential presidents without NOLS experience.  We at the NIA applaud the Board of Trustees’ hiring of Terri.  We take it to be self evident that the students arethe mission, and that the instructors are the keepers of the student experience, and therefore what serves instructors well ultimately serves our students well.  We believe that with her background as an Expedition instructor, Wilderness Medicine instructor, Program Supervisor, and Branch Director, not to mention her recent role as the CEO of a nonprofit unrelated to NOLS,  Terri is exceptionally well positioned to approach the real problems confronting our instructor corps with empathy. 

    The Directors of the NIA and I all look forward to Terri’s official start date in 2020, and sincerely hope that this will usher in an era of increased cooperation between NOLS instructors and NOLS management.  In fact, for the good of the school, it hardly seems like it could be otherwise.  I don’t need to enumerate for you the challenges that face the school today.  Against this backdrop, I find it helpful to remember that we’re all on the same team, and that instructors and administrators alike share the same basic goals of excellent student experiences and being part of an organization that can credibly claim to be “The Leader in Outdoor Education.” 


    The fact that the October Board Meeting is held in Lander each year provides our Trustees with a unique opportunity to experience some aspects of the field instructor lifestyle.  I’d encourage each of you to come a day early or stay a day late in order to better do so.  Take a hike around Sinks Canyon after work and chat with NOLS folks in pairs who’ve headed up to climb a few pitches before dark.  Rent a mountain bike at Gannet Peak Sports, and head out to Johnny Behind The Rocks to participate in another favorite time off activity.  Stop by the Lander Bar for Happy Hour on Friday, and have a beverage with the motley assortment of program staff, instructors, HQ employees, interns and fellows that congregate there for an hour or two at the end of each work week.

    Take some time to really explore the Noble Hotel.  Here, you’ll see numerous services that NOLS provides for instructors that are often under-appreciated. These include a well appointed workout facility, a laundry room, bike hangers, boat storage, long term lockers, a faculty-only space on the third floor, and a dedicated faculty WiFi lane that is fast enough to perform “life maintenance” tasks in between contracts.  

    But look closely in the Noble, and you’ll notice some other things, too.  In the third floor kitchen, the air compressor on the fridge cycles between brief moments of silence and long minutes of noise that make it hard to carry on a conversation.  The windows next to the dining table have been broken for months or years in a manner them makes them impossible to open.  Without air conditioning on the third floor, this means that from June to August the temperature in the kitchen can approach 100 degrees.  In these conditions the air compressor won’t cycle, but runs constantly, day and night, at maximum volume.  Instructors struggling to be heard over the ambient noise keep instructors who are headed out to the field early the next morning up late.

    You’ll notice something else as you patronize local non-NOLS establishments as well.  Before Old Town Coffee became Crux Coffee, the barista was often an HQ worker picking up extra shifts in order to make ends meet.  The Crux, owned by the Catholic College, seems to hire entirely from within their own community, so these days NOLS employees who need to supplement their income can often be seen running food from the kitchen in the Gannet Grill.  Walk to the back of Gannet Peak Sports, and you might see an AFP Instructor picking up a shift doing bike maintenance.  (Fewer than than 2% of NOLs Faculty work under the auspices of the “Annual Faculty Plan,” which makes them “full time” with a guarantee of 25 weeks of work per year.)

    In October I suspect that City Park, where anyone can camp for free for up to three nights, will be pretty quiet.  But visit in mid-summer and you might see a small impromptu community of NOLS instructors and interns.  During this season an instructor whose contracts aren’t perfectly back-to-back will find that there isn’t space for them to spend an extra night in the Noble, and therefore won’t have any indoor housing option.  Likewise, our interns, who receive stipends that are modest by any standards, often get by in Lander by staying in the Hotel.  In the summer this option typically isn’t available.

    People should draw their own conclusions from an in-depth tour of Lander, an no doubt you will, even if the only tour you have time to take is the virtual one provided here.  I would like to submit one thing for your consideration, however.  It occurs to me as I write this, and not for the first time, that an organization laying claim to the title “The Leader in Outdoor Education,” should challenge itself to do better by its faculty and staff.  As one of those faculty, I know I’m here to serve our students.  But I serve them best when I’m not worried about where I’ll sleep between contracts, when I’m not using any of my mental bandwidth to figure whether or not I need a second job to meet my annual expenses (even as an AFP instructor), and when, during my briefing, I can enjoy all the spaces NOLS kindly provides for me, not just the ones with functional windows.


    Finally, I’d like to express my regrets that I wasn’t in Gabriels to greet you in June.  I had recently left that campus to teach a two-week Adventure course in our beautiful Adirondack classroom.  Likewise, I won’t be in Lander in October to greet you as I was planning to do.  I’ll be in Salt Lake City, where I picked up some last minute work teaching a Wilderness First Responder course.  Such is the reality for NOLS instructors.  Barring some non-job source of income (which 56.7% of expedition instructors report having), we need to take what’s offered, when it’s offered.  

    I very much looking forward to reconnecting with all of you in San Diego, February 7th & 8th, 2020.

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 11:23 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report

     David Durant

    President, NOLS Instructor Association

    June 2019

    NIA Mission

    To communicate and advocate instructor views, and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.

    Welcome to the Adirondacks 

    On behalf of the NIA and all NOLS Instructors, I’d like to warmly welcome our Trustees to the Adirondacks.  Having attended a summer camp in Adirondack Park from the age of nine, this place occupies a special space in my heart.  The Adirondacks were the backdrop for all of my formative wilderness experiences.  This is the first place I carried a backpack, set up a tent, caught a fish, and felt awed in the presence of nature, whether that was looking out from the summit of a high peak or tolerating the adversity of a spectacular summer thunderstorm.  It was as a 16 year old camper in the Adirondacks that I first heard about NOLS, and it was to the Adirondacks that I returned after my NOLS student experience in Patagonia, feeling empowered to step forward and run the counselor-in-training program at the camp I had attended.

    I firmly believe that Adirondack Park is a perfect setting for NOLS courses, and that NOLS is the perfect program for the Adirondacks.  I was excited when our base here opened, and have been overjoyed to watch the program grow.  I am disappointed that I won’t have the chance to interact directly with all of you in Gabriels, but this disappointment is tempered by how thrilled I am to be instructing the classic NOLS Northeast Course, ADK 6/20/19, a two week adventure course. 

    My departure for the field just a few days before the summer Trustees’ Meeting is indicative of a larger phenomenon at the NIA.  Just as NOLS is ramping up for its busiest season, the NIA is preparing for our annual period of relative quiet.  Of our 11 current Directors, nine are active field instructors who will spend most, if not all, of the next two months far from the website, Facebook Group, and Google Hangouts that have become some of the main tools we use to communicate with our constituents and advocate for positive change at the school.  The tenth director will keep busy instructing nearly back-to-back Wilderness First Responder courses.  

    Of course we treasure our time with students and co-instructors, away from all of the screens and immersed in the mountains and rivers.  But we also know that we’ll return in August to a mountain of NIA-related tasks that need tackled.  Given the time of year, I’d like to use the opportunity that this report presents to familiarize all of you with the NIA’s Platform.  The full text of all of our Platform Planks is, of course, always available at nolsinstrcutorassociation.org

    THE NIA Platform

    The NIA Platform reflects our stances on key selected issues at the School.  Platform planks are drafted by NIA members and adopted by the NIA Board.  They are written to reflect the thinking of our voting membership. Our positions are dynamic; they're revised as situations at the school change. 

    Faculty Engagement

    A fundamental part of the mission of the NIA is to help guide NOLS from the faculty perspective. We believe that instructors are the primary bearers of the NOLS mission through our direct work with students. From this unique role, working faculty have an essential perspective on school-wide decisions. Our goal is to further integrate this perspective into the work of the NOLS administration.  Current work and future goals in this area include, but are not limited to:

    • The inclusion of faculty on all committees making major decisions at NOLS, from the BoT and ET to headquarters departments and branch operations. 
    • Direct involvement of faculty, at minimum on a consultative basis, at the time of the selection of any new ET member.
    • A seat at the table for the NIA President or their surrogate at all Board of Trustees meetings.  As of May 2019 a petition calling for the reinstatement of a permanent NIA seat at Trustees’ meetings has garnered over 120 signatures from current NOLS employees. 

    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.  We recommend 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 of by including the level (C, D, E, etc.) and pay range for each job when it is posted.
    • Make in-town job schedules more flexible so that Expedition faculty are able to have stable work while continuing to work in the field.

    Advocacy for Wilderness Medicine Instructors

    The NIA has represented Wilderness Medicine instructors since August 2014.  On behalf of these constituents, we advocate for NOLS Wilderness Medicine to be treated as a full pillar partner, on equal footing with NOLS Expeditions, as well as for specific changes in how Wilderness Medicine Instructors are staffed, paid, and reimbursed.  These changes include, but are not limited to:

    • Wilderness Medicine Faculty who take the Professional Instructor Course should be awarded ROPE weeks for their time already spent teaching NOLS Wilderness Medicine courses at a 1:1 ratio.
    • Wilderness Medicine Instructors should be paid on the last payday before the end of their contract, as Expedition Instructors are.
    • The NIA advocates for closing the wage gap between Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Instructors.  This should be accomplished by annual raises in Expedition pay that outpace future raises in Wilderness Medicine pay.  Among other desirable outcomes, this will create a greater breadth of realistic work opportunities for Wilderness Medicine Instructors within NOLS.

    Instructor Pay

    The NIA applauds the budgetary efforts that resulted in major compensation increases during the last strategic plan, and calls for a stated long-term goal of a living wage for all employees and a middle-class income for senior faculty and staff, without reference to the low comparables in U.S. outdoor education. Faculty would feel deeply valued and supported by the school’s adopting an aggressive goal in this area, even if that goal may not be met for many years.

    Expedition Instructor Travel Reimbursement

    The NIA supports a long-term goal of reimbursing 100% of average travel costs for all Expedition instructors. In addition, we recommend paying faculty members half their daily wage for all travel days, providing a per diem rate for food, and providing a per diem hotel rate for all overnight layovers. We also recommend creating an electronic system through which TEJs and receipts are processed for reimbursements.

    International Expedition Pay

    The CTF has announced that come September 1st, 2015 all international field instructor pay scales will be adjusted to annual exchange rates. These wages will be re-evaluated every January 1st. It was reaffirming to see the CTF’s solution fall in line with the drafted solutions written by the NIA as well as both Chilean and Indian Instructors.


    The NIA advocates for the staffing of proctors on all semesters with I-teams larger than two, and whenever possible on two person I-teams. We applaud the NOLS Administration and Board of Trustees for approving a budget in June of 2014 that includes a return to I-level wages for proctors to aid one section per semester. We believe that this NIA's efforts to keep this issue in the spotlight since 2008 were integral to this victory.   

  • Saturday, January 12, 2019 9:04 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

    NIA Report

     David Durant

    President, NOLS Instructor Association

    February 2019

    NIA Mission

    To communicate and advocate instructor views, and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.

    At the end of 2018 we bid farewell to NIA President Sean Williams, who completed his second term on December 31.  I can confidently state that Sean left the NIA a larger, more professional, and more articulate organization than he found it.  He’ll remain involved as President Emeritus, but his designated leadership will be missed.

    It is my great honor to assume the NIA Presidency for the next two years.  I first came to NOLS in 2004 as a student on a mountaineering course in Patagonia.  Three days into my course, I told my mentor that I had decided to pursue a career as a full-time NOLS instructor.  In 2008 I took a Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals and a Spring Instructor Course.  I took my Wilderness Medicine Instructor Training Course in 2011, and in 2014, ten years after my life-changing experience as a student on a NOLS Expedition, I was able to realize my dream to become a full-time instructor when I was accepted into the 50/50 Annual Faculty Program.

    What We Hear From Instructors 

    It has been my pleasure to serve on the NIA Board of Directors since 2013.  During that time I’ve interacted with hundreds of instructors around the campfire, in the classroom, and in NIA meetings from Driggs to Gabriels, Whitehorse to Tucson.  I am consistently impressed by our faculty.  I have found them to be very nearly universally passionate about education, wilderness, and supporting their students.  All of them could choose to tolerate less adversity, have a better work-life balance, and earn more compensation by working elsewhere, yet they choose NOLS each day.  

    In all of my conversations with instructors in my capacity as an NIA representative, two themes stand out overwhelmingly: Instructors worry about their precarious financial positions, and are seeking avenues through which they can participate in school-wide decision making.  These conclusions are borne out by the NIA’s data-driven approach.  In a poll question embedded in our 2017 Ballot, our membership selected “Calling for a stated long term goal of a living wage for all employees and a middle class income for Senior Faculty and Staff” as the most important thing the NIA could advocate for in 2018.  The year before, faculty voted for “Working to ensure that Instructors are represented at all Board of Trustees meetings.”

    Sean described this latter desire eloquently in his very first report here in February of 2015, when he wrote, “One of the most consistent ideas to come up in Branch meetings, and one which elicits the most excitement, is that of playing a larger role in decision-making at NOLS, of participating on committees and working groups, beyond simply answering surveys, filling out program evaluations, or having informal conversations with well-connected individuals. Faculty want to work to help make major decisions, and well-chosen representatives would be willing to put in the time to do so.”

    The Path Forward

    While conversations about compensation run the risk of becoming emotionally charged or divisive, we on the NIA Board are bound by the mission of our organization to pass on what we hear from instructors to the Board of Trustees.  Our intentions are to advise, not to demand; to collaborate, not to antagonize.  We recognize and are deeply grateful for the annual cost-of-living increases that have been made to the Faculty pay scale on a regular basis since I came to the school in 2008.  

    With that as our point of departure, we are in the late stages of revising an in-depth Position Paper that calls for NOLS to treat compensation as a long term strategic goal, rather than a year-by-year decision making process.   We believe NOLS should tackle this problem with the same good intentions and strategic foresight that the administration has brought to growing the NOLS endowment and placing the school as a whole on firm financial footing.  Our hope is that this paper, which will be released later in 2019, can be used to inform the next Strategic Plan.  It is our belief that setting an ambitious goal for a living wage will be essential to retaining a professional, well trained, and highly motivated instructor corps for the next 50 years.   

    Finally, we believe that an opportunity currently exists for the NOLS administration to build significant goodwill with faculty by addressing their widespread desire for greater representation in school-wide decision making.  From 1975 until 2014, faculty were represented by the NIA each time the Board of Trustees met.  From 2014 until the present, an NIA representative has only been invited to one Trustees meeting each year.  This recent development has not been widely publicized.  When Faculty learn of it, they are typically both surprised and disappointed.  The cost of including a member of the NIA Board - democratically elected by hundreds of their peers - at each Trustees meeting would be far outweighed by the sense of engagement in decision making this would give many Instructors.

    Changing of the Guard

    The NIA holds an election at the end of each calendar year to select Directors who serve two year terms.  We are particularly proud of this, as it is the only large scale democratic decision making process at NOLS.  

    For 2019, we are welcoming Clemencia Caporale and Paul Calver to our Board.  Clemencia, exclusively a Wilderness Medicine Instructor, is the third instructor from outside of the Expeditions pillar to serve on the NIA Board since 2014, when we held a referendum to open membership to all NOLS Instructors.  In addition to her viewpoint as classroom faculty, we’re excited for the geographic diversity that she brings to our Board as an East Coaster, representing some of the many faculty who rarely make the trip to hard-to-reach Lander, Wyoming.  Paul has a deep resume with NOLS Expeditions as well as in administrative positions in Headquarters.  He has already enriched our ongoing internal conversations with his historical perspective.

    My sincere thanks for the invitation to attend your February meeting.  I look forward to interacting with all of you there.  Please don’t hesitate to approach me with questions about the instructor experience and instructor priorities. 

  • Friday, October 12, 2018 10:53 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)




    OCTOBER 2018


    NIA’s mission is to communicate and advocate instructor views and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school’s mission and values.

    Like many others around the school, we on the NIA Board of Directors are wrapping up a busy summer season of working in the field, personal trips, and preparing for more courses in the fall.

    The NOLS Summit in May was an exciting time to gather with instructors and hear input across the school. This year’s summit generated discussion about topics that were both stimulating and challenging. At our Annual General Meeting at the summit, we were pleased to welcome more than 35 instructors to a discussion of priorities and goals for the coming year and a number of instructors becoming Lifetime Members. One notable outcome of that meeting was the decision to draft a plank on inclusion to add to the NIA’s platform, which is in progress now. The plank aims to support NOLS’ efforts at diversity, equity, and inclusion and

    demonstrate our support for making NOLS a place where everyone feels valued and respected.

    We look forward to having several NIA board members present at the upcoming Wilderness Medicine Staff Meeting, which will have taken place by the time this report is published, as we continue to support both faculty who teach only wilderness medicine courses as well as crossover staff. In that vein, we applaud the recent agreement between wilderness medicine and expedition Staffing departments to not de-prioritize instructors who teach wilderness medicine courses in the summer for first-round shoulder-season work.

    We look forward to seeing you all in Lander in October. Thanks, as always, for everything that you do for NOLS, to make all the magic that happens in the field and the classroom possible. The faculty have the deepest appreciation for your support.

  • Friday, June 01, 2018 4:31 PM | Dave Durant (Administrator)




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

    The most important work for us at the NIA during the spring is preparation for the Faculty Summit, which will have already taken place by the time you read this report. We hold our Annual General Meeting, our largest meeting of the year, in Lander, on an evening during the Summit. In recent years this has been a good time to share with faculty members and others in Lander what the NIA has been working on over the past year, what goals we have for the coming year, and most importantly, to solicit input and feedback, both for ourselves, and to pass on to Headquarters as needed. Instructors now seem to expect a major NIA meeting to go along with the Summit, and we coordinate with the Summit organizers to find a time that will not conflict with Summit-related events. This year the meeting will be at the Lander Bake Shop, a convenient and fun location for those staying at the Noble or living in Lander. 

    The NIA has had significant turnover on our Board of Directors this year, with only a few Board members remaining who have been on the Board for four years or more. The current Board is highly engaged, organized, and motivated, and has particularly good representation among younger, newer instructors, and among instructors based outside of Lander. I view this as a positive change from years past, when there was a conception that membership on the NIA Board was only appropriate for very senior faculty members. We will have an almost completely new team in Lander for the Summit and running our General Meeting, with only one Board member present who was also present last year. This is an exciting time at the NIA, with changes in faces, personalities, and ideas. I am proud of the work our Board has done over the past four years, and simultaneously happy that we will now be showing new faces and providing new perspectives to our membership. We try to recruit potential Board members to create a Board with a balance of priorities and skills: age, seniority at NOLS, nationality and presence at various NOLS locations and pillars, organizing and management skills, continuity and experience on the Board, organizational knowledge of NOLS, and reliable motivation. The energy and confidence with which our new Board members have jumped into their roles speaks to a bright future for the NIA over the next few years. 

    After a several-year hiatus, we have re-launched the Flamingo Newsletter a one-page email newsletter we will be sending out to our members several times a year, with updates on NIA activities and information about what we have been doing to represent and support NOLS faculty and staff. The Flamingo Fund, our donation- and dues-based fund for projects to improve life for faculty and staff at NOLS campuses, has been busy recently, supporting the purchase of a small fleet of whitewater kayaks for staff to use at the Patagonia campus. (In the past, the Flamingo Fund was 100% donation funded. The flow of donations was quite low, so last year we decided to provide the Fund with regular cash-flow by directing 10% of NIA member dues towards it every year, making more projects possible). This was a nice story of a single instructor and NIA member, Mike Dooley, finding the support and funding to add an often-desired perk to life on the Patagonia campus, one that will also support instructor technical skill development in the whitewater and sea kayak programs. What began as a simple request for a few hundred dollars from the NIA to buy an old used boat grew in scope and ambition, and ended up combining NIA Flamingo Funds, individual donations, and Patagonia campus funding to purchase three high quality boats that will be available for faculty and staff to use on the excellent whitewater near Coyhaique, and all around Aysen (the Chilean province where our Patagonia campus is located). In addition to being fun, this will help Patagonia sea kayak instructors develop their skills in challenging conditions without having to organize a major sea kayaking expedition to the remote Patagonian coast, and should also help encourage NOLS river instructors to keep contributing their skills to the sea kayak program, by giving them an easy way to pursue their passion on world famous whitewater without having to transport a boat to Patagonia. 

    Good luck with the budget, and other topics at the June meeting! We look forward to seeing you all in Lander in October. Thanks, as always, for everything that you do for NOLS, to make all the magic that happens in the field and the classroom possible. The faculty have the deepest appreciation for your support. 

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