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2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT


THE LEADER IN WILDERNESS EDUCATION The mission of the National Outdoor Leadership School is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.


MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR A FINE YEAR IT WAS. EACH YEAR I SEND A YEAR-END

wrap up and commonly receive a few responses, but this year one in particular stood out. It came from Shantanu Pandit, one of our staff in India: “In one of the two Indian mythological epics, there is a story about a God who built a bridge from India to Sri Lanka. A squirrel blundered in and started helping, carrying in pebbles. The God, pleased with that gesture, patted the squirrel, leaving imprints of his fingers on its back. And so, we have the Indian Five Striped Palm Squirrel … in my native culture, we have an idiom referring to the ‘squirrel’s contribution,’ which is replete with all possible meanings and concepts. I believe I play a ‘squirrel’s part’ in the bridges that NOLS builds in today’s world. I am proud to do my bit. I would be contented with that, but I also feel acknowledged many times and in many ways. And that makes it truly wonderful! I have no words to articulate the ways in which my association with NOLS has benefited me. Thank you!” The achievements of this year are due to “squirrels’ contributions” from all of us. The scope and geography of our organization means our organizational achievements go far beyond the achievement of any one individual or group of staff. Small things—squirrel’s contributions—add up, and they were a powerful force for change and achievement in the past year. While the achievements of this year provide vivid evidence of how small things add up, it is even more noteworthy to see how they add up over a period of years. In particular, it is interesting to evaluate our performance against the goals laid out in our current strategic plan. Five years ago, we came together as a community and

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NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

envisioned a school that was broader in its reach, more effective in its achievements and outcomes, more noteworthy in its significance, and with a staff that was more fulfilled and satisfied in their work and life here. It was a bold vision! Now, five years later, I am pleased to report that we have become that school we envisioned. We achieved nearly all of the goals in the strategic plan: we have significantly grown the number of students educated, we have broadened and diversified our student base, we have refined and strengthened our leadership curriculum, we have expanded our positive influence on risk management throughout our industry, we have significantly improved the compensation of our staff, and we have expanded our staff training and initiated our annual faculty summit. These achievements on our last plan are all the more exciting at this time, as we are planning and envisioning what NOLS will become in 2020. We have established significant and ambitious goals, and lots of “squirrels contributions” will get us there. More than 19,000 students were educated on NOLS courses this year. Only one of them came home to my house. The stories of that experience were engaging, and the feelings of achievement were there. A 15-year-old boy talking nonstop about his experience to his parents (his mom and me) is magical and noteworthy. Now pause to consider the power of that multiplied by more than 19,000.

John N. Gans Executive Director


MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES IN FISCAL YEAR 2013, NOLS BROUGHT IN

record revenues and awarded record scholarship support. We led Expedition Denali, the first predominantly African American attempt on North America’s highest peak. NOLS completed, opened, and paid for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. We had no fatalities and good field management of incidents and injuries. NOLS had record enrollment in fiscal year 2013, educating 19,264 students. We completed, within a few percentage points, our current strategic plan, laying a solid foundation for the current strategic planning process. I could go on. NOLS had a remarkable year. But it is at our organizational peril that we forget the incremental actions and decisions that transform the messy fodder of daily work and decision-making into 365 days that earn the label “remarkable” or “exceptional.” Every day, staff and faculty at all levels can choose to act in the smart, intentional, and ethical ways that build on earlier intentions, that take advantage of new opportunities, that transform good to great and great to remarkable. So even as we appropriately celebrate our success, we must remember that we only sustain this success through constant vigilance. Especially in our particular line of work, it’s absolutely crucial that we never assume that the diligence, care, vision, effort, and pure grit that got us to this point can be maintained with anything other than continued diligence, care, vision, effort, and pure grit. The challenge we face as NOLS becomes more mature and more solidly successful is that we have to stay hungry, we have to stay scrappy. NOLS comes from scrappy roots, but we’ve also

grown up. In just a couple of years we’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary. We have made it into this fifth decade by consistent, hard, hungry, stubborn work. We have made it because we believe in the work we are doing and we have translated that belief into action. We have made it because even as the broader culture has hewed a path toward increased screen time, less physical activity, and greater urbanization, NOLS has had the gumption to carve a different path and demonstrate the value of time spent traveling in wild places. We have made it because we have been gritty. In the work that we do, however, grittiness must never become conflated with simple toughness. Our work is characterized by the sacred weight of responsibility granted to us when parents put their children into our care. Every single one of the individual students we teach is a son or daughter, a friend, a beloved, the hope, the future of a family, a community, a generation. Every student group grows from the most fragile web of new and tenuous relationships into a unique set of experiences shaped ever so carefully by our skilled instructors and the wilderness classrooms in which we operate. Looking ahead, our challenge is to keep alive the amazing blend of grit and love and craftsmanship that is our signature, even as we continue to grow up, expand our reach, hone our operations, and have remarkable years.

CONTENTS: Expedition Denali . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Team inspires diversity in the outdoors

The NOLS Report Card . . . . . . . . . .7 Student course quality survey is a powerful tool

NOLS, Archer Partner . . . . . . . . . .9 The two schools develop resilient female leaders

Gateway Partners . . . . . . . . . . . 11 NOLS is relevent to everyone and accessible

GIVING Annual fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Planned giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Campaign NOLS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

HIGHLIGHTS Risk Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 WMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Financial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

NOLS SUPPORTERS . . . . . . . . . 25

Kate Gunness Williams Chair of the Board of Trustees

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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Expedition Denali celebrates its accomplishments on Denali before continuing its hard work in the front country. Denali, Alaska, JAMES KAGAMBI

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NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL


DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

EXPEDITION DENALI: INSPIRING DIVERSITY IN THE OUTDOORS TO INSPIRE YOUTH OF COLOR—AND PARTICULARLY

African American youth—to get outside, get active, and become stewards of our wild places, NOLS designed, developed and led Expedition Denali: the first attempt by a predominantly African-American team to summit North America’s highest peak, in June, 2013. This journey on the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of the peak involved a group of role models in the African American outdoor community setting an example for youth of color who might not otherwise imagine themselves pursuing lofty goals in the outdoors. On June 26, at 19,600 feet with the summit in sight, the team of nine student mountaineers made the wise decision and set an important example for future adventurers the world over: the summit is secondary to safety. In the face of an incoming lightning storm, Expedition Denali turned back. Nonetheless, with the safe return of every member of the team, the expedition successfully completed its mission. The peak was a goal, but it was never the priority for these role models, and their efforts to inspire youth of color to chase Denali-sized dreams have already had a profound impact. The expedition participants are touring public and charter schools, nonprofit institutions, outdoor outreach organizations, community organizations, and church groups nationwide. These post-expedition speaking and media engagements give these role models a platform to inspire youth of color to connect with America’s wild places

and take on outdoor pursuits they never imagined possible—whether in recreation, education, policy, conservation, land management, or government. Only a small percentage of American’s of color are participating in the outdoors. Outdoor participation rates among African Americans, and especially kids in that demographic, remain the lowest in the nation. The health and well being of our increasingly diverse population—and especially our African American population—depend on their remaining active and engaging in nature. Furthermore, the well being of our public lands is also tethered to people of color reconnecting to our wild places. By 2042, people of color will comprise the majority of the U.S. population. Americans of color are the future stewards of the extraordinary and wild lands we all cherish. As part of America’s up-and-coming majority, they will have a mounting influence on the protection of our wilderness. But without opportunities to experience our great outdoors or role models to inspire them to remain engaged in it, passionate voices from this increasingly diverse constituency won’t be heard. NOLS designed Expedition Denali to inspire a change in that trend. The goal of the expedition is to engage a broader constituency in a public dialog about diversity in the outdoors and inspire a generation of youth to enjoy the outdoors, making Expedition Denali an unprecedented opportunity not only to make history, but also to build a legacy.

THE PEAK WAS A GOAL, BUT IT WAS NEVER THE PRIORITY FOR THESE ROLE MODELS, AND THEIR EFFORTS TO INSPIRE YOUTH OF COLOR TO CHASE DENALI-SIZED DREAMS HAVE ALREADY HAD A PROFOUND IMPACT.

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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LUIS ROSARIO

DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES Around the office, 2009 Pacific Northwest Trip Leader alumnus Luis Rosario is known as GSD (Getting Stuff Done). That’s because when a project needs a hard-hitter, Rosario implements his do-whatever-it-takes (DWIT) attitude to get it done. Flash back to 2007. Like so many young adults growing up in urban areas, Rosario had never experienced true wilderness. When he read about NOLS in a student travel magazine, it sounded like an exciting challenge. He pinned the article to his dormitory wall as a reminder of his new goal. Two years later, after graduating from Florida Atlantic University, Rosario’s dream became a reality with the help of a scholarship. So he traveled from suburban southern Florida to the wildlands of Washington, where Rosario found himself a little out of his comfort zone. “Heading into the woods with a bunch of other people you don’t know, into a place you’ve never been, without any outside contact or communication,” Rosario recalled, “It was kind of worrisome.” Yet, he took risks and took the lead, which led to a greater understanding of opportunities of that nature. As the course progressed, and he learned the tricks to pack packing and keeping a clean camp, he even began to thrive. Rosario realized there are many things in life we avoid because of uncertainty. But as he explained it: “when you overcome fear, it opens up doors.” Before his course, he would have been willing to settle for a nine-to-five job for the security. Instead, he’s taken a calculated risk by accepting a job with The Alive Foundation, a young organization that produces the top-rated “Morning Coach” podcast. Every day he uses his NOLS skills of overcoming uncertainty by implementing his DWIT philosophy. “There’s a quote out there that says, ‘One bite at a time.’” Rosario explained. “I learned that during my course, but it’s the same in life. It’s a good reminder whenever I become overwhelmed.” With this philosophy, Rosario recognizes that even small gifts make a difference, which is why he’s a donor to the NOLS Annual Fund, giving back to the organization that helped him to open so many doors. 8

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

Partnerships and scholarships allow students who would not typically have access to NOLS courses the opportunity to explore a new world and share it with their peers. Patagonia - Cornell Leadership Expedition, ALEX CHANG


RESEARCH AND CURRICULUM

THE NOLS REPORT CARD AT THE END OF EVERY NOLS FIELD COURSE, YOU WILL

The 2013 CQS looked similar to many from years find instructors sitting with students and offering a formal past and communicates a high percentage of very satisfied evaluation of each student’s performance—rain, snow, or NOLS graduates across the world. The quantitative quesshine. Students have the same opportunity to provide feed- tions are framed in a seven-point Likert scale ranging from back to instructors and program teams using the Course strongly disagree to strongly agree. If every student selected Quality Survey (CQS) upon their return to the frontcountry. “strongly agree,” the score would be 100 percent. A majority The CQS asks each student to reflect on his or her of “neutral” responses would average out around 50 percent, programmatic and educational experience, and NOLS col- while a high number of “strongly disagree” responses would lects nearly 3,000 student responses annually. NOLS has report at less than 10 percent. been collecting data through these surveys for over a decade Students also respond to open-response questions such and continues to gain valuable insight into the strengths as, “What was most rewarding about this course?” and and areas for growth for the school. Most students take the “What one thing would you suggest we change at NOLS survey on a computer on the final day of the course, though to improve our courses?” Thousands of experiences are repsome small and remote NOLS locations use paper copies. resented in the data, yet the comments in response to the All data is then compiled at NOLS Headquarters and first question are remarkably similar. Students love the wild turned into seasonal and year-end reports for each location. landscapes, the investment of their instructors, and the les-

93%

84%

89%

81%

85%

80%

sons they learn about themselves. The suggestions NOLS students offer are equally informative. Most comments reflect a nuanced change to the ration (25 percent), equipment (4 percent), or route (4 percent). Even still, many of these comments are contradicted by coursemates who want more or less food, better or cheaper equipment, and harder or easier routes. Managers at each NOLS location evaluate and respond to these answers in future seasons. Along with gathering standard information, the CQS also incorporates questions of interest for a season or year. Currently the survey is gathering data to better understand and analyze instructor effectiveness. Individual locations have also started posing questions to students that are pertinent for their operations. For more information or results on the Course Quality Survey, contact research@nols.edu.

84%

87%

91%

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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NOLS Professional Training and Archer School for Girls have seen the profound impact of NOLS programming on Archer’s students. Pacific Northwest, BEN FOX

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NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL


NOLS PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

NOLS, ARCHER DEVELOP RESILIENT FEMALE LEADERS WHEN THE ARCHER SCHOOL FOR GIRLS APPROACHED

NOLS Professional Training in the fall of 2010, they were interested in the development of resilient leaders. “We literally see our mission at Archer as educating the future female leaders of this country,” Archer’s head of school Elizabeth English said at the 2013 NOLS Faculty Summit. “We embrace possibility, promote challengeseeking, and support risk-taking… That’s why we came to NOLS. Because we believed that you could help us do this. And we’re seeing evidence of it already.” Located in Los Angeles, Archer is a private girls’ school for grades six through 12. The school strives to create an environment—informed by research and supported by skilled faculty—where girls learn best. Experiential education in a single-gender environment is integral to Archer’s approach. Each of these support their motto: ambitious, joyful learning. During seventh, ninth, and 11th grades, all girls participate in six-day wilderness expeditions designed by NOLS Professional Training. This is a progression that builds from one expedition to the next. Each course places emphasis on an aspect of the NOLS leadership curriculum. For example, seventh-grade students focus on the development of self-leadership and expedition behavior. Ninth-grade expeditions emphasize peer-leadership. And, in the final NOLS experience, 11th-grade expeditions underscore designated leadership. The leadership skills learned in the field transfer to life beyond the backcountry. In fact, Archer has incorporated the NOLS leadership model into the school’s culture.

“One of the things we love about NOLS is that you have this framework for leadership, this very well articulated and intentional leadership curriculum which we use at Archer now,” English said. “We use your language and framework.” Since the relationship with NOLS began, Archer faculty and staff have noted inspiring outcomes in their students. Specifically, English cited an increased awareness of personal responsibility, self-care, and organization skills; a newfound sense of pride and confidence; an increased capacity to evaluate and take appropriate risks; and an increased sense of tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, or what English calls grit. “I want our girls to be put in an environment that’s challenging for them. I want them to be homesick. I want them to be tired and hungry and a little bit afraid. And I want them to persevere through that because on the other end of it they’re coming back and saying, ‘I think I can do anything.’” Current research supports this connection between risk, challenge, and learning. English highlighted the work of researchers like Paul Tough, who traces the role of adversity in the formation of traits like character, resilience, and grit. “We grow by being taken out of our comfort zone. We grow through adversity,” English said. This sentiment has certainly been witnessed in the girls returning from their courses with NOLS. As a seventh-grade student remarked at the close of a video for Archer produced by NOLS, “It’s the wilderness, and if I can survive out here for a week, I can do that for the rest of my life out there!”

“One of the things we love about NOLS is that you have this framework for leadership, this very well articulated and intentional leadership curriculum which we use at Archer now.”

—Elizabeth English, Archer Head of School

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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LINDSAY YOST

Sharing Lessons of Uncertainty As an elementary education major in college, Lindsay Yost never imagined taking her teaching beyond the classroom. It wasn’t until she began leading trips for a camp in Maine that she realized there were other options. A few years later, she found herself working for a wilderness semester program for high school juniors in Colorado. There, she met many people who worked for NOLS and in 2008 Yost took a NOLS Rocky Mountain Instructor Course. Since then, she’s worked as a field instructor, a program supervisor at the branch level, and most recently as the program manager of NOLS Northeast. Yost believes the variety of positions help her integrate lessons learned on her instructor course into her career. Most notably, she practices tolerance for adversity and uncertainty regularly. “There is a lot of uncertainty in learning a new job, but that process is valuable and it teaches you a lot about yourself,” explained Yost, who feels that also helps her be a better instructor. “It helps me have more compassion for students when they’re struggling… to think of the times that have been hard for me or new to me. “ From the office to the backcountry, Yost shares her lessons with each NOLS student she encounters because she truly believes in the value of what she does. “Time and time again, I have seen the NOLS experience change a student’s life,” said Yost. “Many of my students may have never had the opportunity to go on a NOLS course if it weren’t for the scholarship money that they received. That personal context gives me perspective of why it’s so important to give back to the school.” “We really do create positive, ethical leaders … most of our students believe in having an ethical compass and doing what’s right,” stated Yost. “That’s a lot of what we’re asking them to do out there. That’s what makes it life changing.” For this reason, Yost goes above and beyond her job by giving back to the school financially. She knows what an impact her donation can have in creating a life-changing experience for a student. “If my gift can make a difference for just one student,” Yost reflected, “It’s worth it.” 12

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

NOLS changes lives, and thanks to NOLS programs like the Gateway Partners and donors like Lindsay, scholarships make NOLS possible for anyone. Yukon, STÉPHANE TERRIER


SCHOLARSHIPS

GATEWAY PARTNERS PROGRAM OPENS DOORS OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES, NOLS’ SCHOLAR-

ship funding has increased 50-fold from $30,000 to $1.5 million. Along with this increase has come a recognition that if NOLS is to remain relevant to a society that continues to globalize and a nation whose demographics are rapidly shifting, we need to leverage this funding to reach a broader audience. Today, about a third of our scholarship funding is therefore dedicated to the Gateway Partner Program. NOLS Gateway Partners are organizations and institutions nationwide that are focused on providing opportunities to young people from underserved communities underrepresented at NOLS. Since its establishment, the program has grown to between 150 and 200 students per year who receive full-tuition scholarships to attend NOLS courses. Though the list of Gateway Partners has evolved, one thing remains consistent: These partners are as committed as NOLS to providing life-changing experiences to young people. Partners include Summer Search, a national scholarship program that works with high schoolers in major urban areas to prepare them for success in life. NOLS’ relationship with Summer Search pre-dates the Gateway Partner Program and is nearly as old as our scholarship program. Other partners include nationally acclaimed charter school networks such as the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools and the YES Prep schools. In the last three years, we’ve expanded our relationship with these schools from one KIPP school and one YES Prep school to 14 KIPP schools and eight YES Prep schools. We also partner

with outdoor organizations that provide “gateway” outdoor experiences to youth, such as Big City Mountaineers and Outdoor Outreach. Finally, we partner with schools and organizations focused on conservation and environmental stewardship, such as The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) Program, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and a number of environmental high schools. Students from our Gateway Partner organizations may be outside the bell curve of the “traditional” NOLS student in many ways, including home and family environments, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and culture. Nearly half of them identify as Hispanic Americans, with the remaining identifying in equal numbers as Asian American, African American, and multiracial. Through this injection of diversity into our student body, we have learned that NOLS’ mission of preparing students to be leaders and stewards of our outdoors is relevant to everyone. All students—regardless of their background— have the potential to be transformed. “Coming back to the frontcountry from this trip I found myself thinking differently and feeling differently,” wrote Big City Mountaineers and 2013 NOLS Pacific Northwest Backpacking grad Jessica Lopez. “I felt more confident. I felt renewed. I felt like my whole perspective had changed. This trip is essentially what has made me into the person that I am today.”

STUDENTS FROM OUR GATEWAY PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS MAY BE OUTSIDE THE BELL CURVE OF THE “TRADITIONAL” NOLS STUDENT IN MANY WAYS, INCLUDING HOME AND FAMILY ENVIRONMENTS, SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, RACE AND ETHNICITY, AND CULTURE... WE HAVE LEARNED THAT NOLS’ MISSION OF PREPARING STUDENTS TO BE LEADERS AND STEWARDS OF OUR OUTDOORS IS RELEVANT TO EVERYONE.

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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THE NOLS ANNUAL FUND

NOLS ANNUAL FUND: ETHICAL LEADERSHIP FOR A GLOBAL COMMUNITY NOLS IS EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH WHERE THE

annual fund ended this year. We met and exceeded our budget goal, did a donor survey, and continued to build relationships with our alumni, parents, and friends. We received donations from 4,215 individuals who are helping us to further our mission with flexible unrestricted annual income and allowing NOLS to provide life-changing wilderness and leadership education opportunities to individuals all over the world. Through the generous support of our donors, we were able to help over 700 scholarship recipients travel to wild places, as well as continue our research on nutrition and how it affects our students while they are in the field. Thank you for being a part of such a wonderfully successful year at NOLS. We appreciate the support of all of our donors and could not have celebrated such a full history this year without you.

NOLS Annual Fund Goals and Dollars Raised $1800000

$1500000

$1200000

$900000

TRACY BAYNES

“I believe that I will be learning from my experience for years to come. I learned more from my instructors than I believe I ever will from a college professor.”

$600000

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NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

—Thomas Wahl, Alaska Backpacking and Sea Kayaking

$0

Raised

$300000

FY '13 Goal

Goal: $1,558,000 Funds raised: $1,597,740 Percent unrestricted dollars: 82% Number of donors: 4,215 Number of new donors: 1,580 Donor retention rate: 59%

Raised

2013

FY '12 Goal

2012 Goal: $1,467,000 Funds raised: $1,438,657 Percent unrestricted dollars: 78% Number of donors: 3,180 Number of new donors: 711 Donor retention rate: 54%


“A connectedness that can be experienced in the outdoors puts the entire world in a different perspective,” Nancy Hoagland said. Wind River Range, Wyoming, BENJAMIN FOX

NANCY HOAGLAND

Changing Perspectives to Change Lives For Nancy Hoagland, it all started with a NOLS flyer on a cork bulletin board. She was in college when she walked by the ad, not aware that it was the beginning of a monumental journey. In fact, NOLS would impact her so much that Hoagland would make it a goal to help others achieve a similar experience through generous donations to NOLS. The biggest take away from Hoagland’s 1977 course in Wyoming’s Absaroka Mountains was that she could almost always do more than she thought. She also learned that leading doesn’t need to be loud or demanding in nature. In fact, Hoagland now finds leading is done best when done quietly. This notion directly reflects her position as a donor. “I received a letter from a student who spoke about how NOLS changed her life,” she reflected. “It deeply reminded me of how my experience had changed my life and that I wanted others to have a similar opportunity.” Hoagland made her first gift to the school in 1986 and has given consistently since, transferring her NOLS experience into a long-term philanthropic priority. She believes an outdoor education is vital. “I recently came across a statistic that 80 percent of kids today won’t experience the Milky Way,” she noted, continuing, “a connectedness that can be experienced in the outdoors puts the entire world in a different perspective.” Hoagland shares the sentiment with NOLS that it is crucial to have advocates for this perspective, particularly today. She believes in what NOLS has done for her and has taken the initiative to support what NOLS will do for others in the future. NOLS is so meaningful when compared to other programs because of our philosophy that we should work with nature, not attempt to conquer it. 2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

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PLANNED GIVING

PLANNED GIVING–A LEGACY IN LEADERSHIP AND WILDERNESS EDUCATION FOR MANY DONORS, A PLANNED GIFT TO NOLS IS

the capstone of their charitable giving career. For most, it is the largest gift that they will make in their lifetime. But for all, it’s a way to establish a lasting impact on the school and the lives of its students, carrying the donor’s legacy forward in perpetuity. The members of NOLS’ Summit Team have chosen to include NOLS in their estate plans or make a deferred gift to NOLS. As a part of our recognition society for legacy donors, Summit Team members express their steadfast belief in the power of a NOLS education. Planned gifts grow NOLS’ endowment, ensuring the opportunity for future generations of NOLS students to have a meaningful wilderness experience. A thoughtful planned gift also creates financial benefits for the donors, often providing tax relief for donors themselves, or for their heirs. Summit Team members find planned gifts to NOLS a great option; they pair a sound financial decision with creating a legacy that reflects their personal values. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Summit Team had 8 percent growth, marking a 3 percent increase in the average growth over the past five years. NOLS is a relatively young organization, and as such, the majority of our alumni are younger. We hope to grow the Summit Team and our planned giving program in the coming years, providing the foundation that makes NOLS the international leader in wilderness education.

Summit Team Paul M. Ford and

Anonymous (2)

Dennis W. Pendleton

James A. Acee

Indicates a monetary gift from a current or former member of the NOLS Board of Trustees. # Indicates a monetary gift from a NOLS employee employed in FY13. 1 Indicates donors who have given annually for 10-19 years. 2 Indicates donors who have given annually for 20-29 years. 3 Indicates donors who have given annually for 30+ years. 16

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

Patrick M. Pettit

Sheila C. Lally

Marc B.* and Lorraine Randolph Christopher M. and

Joan F. Adibi

Carole L. Forgan

Cathy and Richard H. Lampman

Barry Auskern

D. Steven Fox1

Judith L. Lane

Douglas P. Bacon

John N. Gans# 2 and

Cristi L. Larsen

Peter S. Ross1

Fred N. Littooy2

Mary M. Ryan

John L. Barton 2

Stephanie A. Kessler2

Melanie S. Robbins

Douglas C. Benoliel

Jon C. Geissmann

David H. Long

David I. Schiff

Kathleen A. Beres and

Daniel S. Gelfand

Walter D. and Valerie S. Long

Michael Schmertzler*2

Helen J. Gemmill

Sharon and Wylie D. Lowery

Catherine C. and Mark F. Sieffert

Scott Bradley

Miller D. Einsel

Eric N. Gilbert1

Douglas S. Luke*2

Winton C. Smith

Aila O. Brennan#

Thomas L. Glazier

Allen B. Macomber*2

Jeanne1 and Jerry W.1 Southwood

Elizabeth Britt

Peter R. Goldman 2

Stanley and Wendy O. Marsh

Robert I. Spengler1

Daryl J. and Ana P. Burtnett

Lynn Gossard

Keith A. Marshall

Anthony K.#1 and Erika1 Stevens

Susan E. Chamberlin*1

Andrea J. Grant*

Ellen C. Matz

Cynthia B. Stevens

Alpin C. Chisholm1

John and Bonnie P. Gruetzmacher

William C. Mayo

Robin B. Supplee2

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Molly M.1 and Bruce E.1 Hampton

Michael F. McTeigue

Wyllys Terry*

Sherwin B. Cotler

N. Stuart Harris

G. Craig Meacham

Gene R.*2 and Susan C. 2 Tremblay

Joyce Courtney

Gary D. Hermalyn

Ann C. Mills

Pamela B. and Michael A. Valentine

Brian R. Dannemann1

Diane D. Herth

John W. Molander

Duncan N. Dayton

Dorothy C. and William A. Hilshey

William C. Murdock

Katharine Dernocoeur

Christopher W. Holinger

David M. Neary

S. Lee Warner1

Danielle Dignan

Wendolyn S. Holland

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Loni1 and Richard G.1 Weber

Mark J. Donahue

Joanne Hurley

Ronald C. and

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David R. Kallgren#

Robert H. Donoho

Ann L. Iijima and Myles G. Bakke

Catherine L. Douglas and

William L. Jamieson

Robert M. Parker

Jennifer S. Whiting

Cameale Johnson

David R. Pennes3

Reid A. Wiecks1

Cleveland T. and Rachael G. Justis

Thomas E. Perlman

Gregory L.1 and Patricia R.1 Wright

Cheryl M. and Daniel F. Kelley

Allen E. Perrel

Elizabeth H. Yacubian1

Steven L. Kral

Marshall R. Peterson

Charles L. Zwick

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Mark A. Sargent Susan T. English

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Cynthia S. and Michael J. Evanisko

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1

Timothy B. Weymouth1


Paul Petzoldt has created a legacy, and planned giving keeps an eye on that history and one on the future NOLS is building today. Bahia Concepcion, Mexico, ALISHA BUBE

SCOTT BRADLEY

Continuing Paul Petzoldt’s Legacy As a senior in high school in 1963, Scott Bradley was fortunate to meet a representative from the newly formed Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS). The following summer, he made his way out West for a course led by Paul Petzold and Tap Tapley. Three years later, having heard that Petzoldt had opened his own school to train qualified instructors for such organizations as Outward Bound, Bradley attended one of the early courses with the National Outdoor Leadership School. He then returned to COBS as an instructor trainee. Two more courses with NOLS in the late ‘60s kept Bradley in touch with Petzoldt and Tapley. As a favor to his mentors, he towed a sailboat from Lander, Wyo. to Baja California Sur, Mexico where Tapley was just opening up a new NOLS facility. “This was an interesting time as Outward Bound and NOLS evolved and developed their separate identities and focus,” recalled Bradley. “From NOLS I gained a deeper sense of selfreliance and inner strength.” Bradley feels that his increased self-awareness engendered a lasting awareness of the concepts of service and community. Since his days with NOLS, Bradley has had a willingness to take on new initiatives, often in public service. He largely attributes his early “risk-taking,” such as working in the emerging field of community mediation, to the positive experiences he had during his early involvement with NOLS. These experiences nurtured in him a continuing interest and respect for outdoor adventure, as well as the cultural education available through international and domestic travel. Bradley believes that what NOLS teaches is fundamental to expanding environmental and cultural awareness. Students learn practical and life skills, such as resilience to challenges. As such, Bradley has decided to continue Petzoldt’s legacy in leadership by listing NOLS as a beneficiary in his will. “[Petzoldt] was a major influence on my development as a young man,” he explained of his choice to join the NOLS Summit Team. “I want to honor [Petzoldt], his NOLS legacy, as well as the contemporary importance of NOLS in outdoor education, cultural exchange, and environmental awareness and practice.” 2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

17


CAMPAIGN NOLS

CAMPAIGN NOLS: ENDOWING OUR CORE VALUES

DAVE ANDERSON

THROUGHOUT FY13 WE CONTINUED TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARD RAISING $19,250,000. IN THE BEGINNING OF FY14, WE REACHED THAT GOAL AND RECEIVED THE CAPSTONE CHALLENGE GIFT OF $750,000, BRINGING US TO A TOTAL OF $20 MILLION.

18

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

Our Place on The Map:

CAMPA IGN PROGRESS

$

20 MILLION

$

18 MILLION

$

16 MILLION

$

14 MILLION

$

12 MILLION

$

10 MILLION

$

8 MILLION

$

6 MILLION

$

4 MILLION

$

2 MILLION

Current fundraising total: $19,250,000 Mid-campaign gift received after raising initial $10 million Capstone gift of $750,000

ON OCT. 11, 2013, 41 DAYS INTO FISCAL YEAR 2014 AND

81 days before the Campaign NOLS deadline of Dec. 31, NOLS received the donation that translated to success. Fiscal year 2013 saw strong momentum for Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values, our comprehensive campaign to raise $20 million by the end of 2013. We received a number of five- and six-figure gifts that aided our cause, along with many smaller gifts. Consisting of both endowment and annual fund support, gains made will provide the school with financial stability for years to come. The foundation built by Campaign NOLS will furnish scholarship funding, protect our wild classrooms, and develop curriculum—ensuring NOLS remains the leader in wilderness education. Throughout the year, regional steering committees and alumni volunteers hosted events to build the NOLS community and educate alumni on current funding priorities. These campaign awareness events were held around the country focusing on individuals in the surrounding areas. Dreamed up, planned, organized, and hosted by local alumni who truly care about NOLS, these events show the commitment of volunteers to seeing the NOLS mission and core values endure. Our thanks go out to all of our donors, board of trustees, advisory council members, volunteers, friends, and staff who participated in this campaign to endow our core values.


Wilderness changes the lives of our students, and the success of Campaign NOLS has changed the outlook for NOLS by providing increased stability. Brooks Range, Alaska, STÉPHANE TERRIER

BRAD HIRSCH

Promoting a Lifetime of Growth “NOLS taught me that leadership isn’t about telling others what to do,” explained Brad Hirsch, 2001 Semester in Alaska graduate. “It requires you to instead identify your strengths in your relationship with others, and to then leverage those insights to drive change.” That is why Hirsch is a NOLS donor and supporter of Campaign NOLS. He enjoyed his NOLS semester so much that he called his medical school during a day in town while on his course to request a year off to pursue his passion for the outdoors. After they agreed, he spent a year working in wilderness therapy in Utah and New England. Hirsch believes that NOLS challenges young people to step outside of their comfort zones. He explained that time in the outdoors drives us all to develop insights about who we are. NOLS encourages students to learn that they are capable of more than they realize. “You learn more about yourself, your capabilities, and your approach to leadership in a few weeks in the field than you might over the course of years in other circumstances,” Hirsch said. Along with ensuring the school’s continued success, Hirsch wants to give others access to this NOLS experience, which is why he chooses to make NOLS a philanthropic priority. “I believe that NOLS fills a void in society today,” declared Hirsch. “People underestimate the power of the wilderness to change and improve their lives.” 2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

19


RISK MANAGEMENT

IN 2013, WE RELIED ON THE STRENGTH OF OUR RISK

management program as a core component of how we conduct courses and how we measure our success as a school. NOLS Risk Management forms the basis of the NOLS culture of reliability and is fundamental in our resiliency as an organization. Our primary goals are to promote the health and well-being of students and staff while striving to achieve our stated curriculum and course objectives. Our risk management performance in fiscal year 2013 was exceptional in many respects. Our medical evacuation rate of 0.88 evacuations per 1,000 program days was 19 percent below our five-year average and the fifth lowest in the 29 years we have been keeping these records. We did, however, respond to a number of challenging medical and near-miss incidents: • NOLS has had 7,335 expedition students for a total of 325,178 program days since Thomas Plotkin died Sept. 22, 2011. • Our emergency and evacuation systems are well designed and worked smoothly and effectively to provide emergency support at all NOLS locations in 11 countries and 14 U.S. states.

• Our most serious incidents involved two students with seizures, a student with a serious skin infection, a student who was stung hundreds of times by Africanized honeybees, and two students who fell down a steep slope while backpacking. • One hundred twenty-four students and 17 instructors were evacuated from their courses for injury or illness. The majority of these were logistically simple, but 20 were more complex due to the severity of the patient’s condition or the remoteness of their location. We refer to these as assisted evacuations. Fourteen required helicopters, two required horses, one each required fixed-wing aircraft and snowmobile, and one patient was carried on a litter. • Ninety-six percent of NOLS students completed their courses. Of the 4 percent that did not complete their course (165 students), 2.5 percent were due to medical incidents and 1.5 percent were non-medical incidents.

Fiscal Year 2013 Medical Incident and Evacuation Rates Compared to Previous Averages 3.0 2.77

2.57

2.5

2.0

1.5

1.16

1.12

1.0

0.5

28 yr. avg.

10 yr. avg.

Medical Incident

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

1.08 0.88

0.0

20

2.40

2.38

Rate/1000 Program Days

RISK MANAGEMENT HIGHLIGHTS

5 yr. avg.

FY 2013

Medical Evacuation


WILDERNESS MEDICINE INSTITUTE

WYSS WILDERNESS MEDICINE CAMPUS FISCAL YEAR 2013 BROUGHT THE SUCCESSFUL

completion of both fundraising and construction for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. Mr. Hansjörg Wyss provided the initial $1.5 million contribution towards the new campus. Further, he challenged NOLS to raise $1.5 million from alumni, staff, and friends, with the promise of a matching gift upon completion. During the fall of 2012 we met Mr. Wyss’ challenge with the help of the greater NOLS community. In fact, by mid-November, we had exceeded the goal by over $33,000, bringing the total raised for the project to over $4.8 million. The October 2012 dedication of the new Wyss Campus

celebrated the completion of this important project, kicking off the next stage of wilderness medicine education. The campus hosted its first Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) course in November 2012. In its first year of operation, the Wyss Campus hosted over 400 students on wilderness medicine courses. NOLS was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification, the highest certification awarded, in December, 2013. The Wyss Campus has the capacity of net zero energy consumption. The photovoltaic system is currently producing 21 percent of the campus’ energy needs, and NOLS is planning to increase

the number of solar panels for more energy production. In fiscal year 2013, the Wyss Campus also provided the opportunity to launch a new course type, the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester. The three-month course includes a WEMT, swift water rescue, and rock climbing rescue certifications, combined with NOLS signature leadership curriculum and extended wilderness expeditions. The semester culminates with a rescue scenario held entirely on the campus property. The inaugural course was so successful that NOLS has expanded offerings in the coming year. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making our newest classroom possible!

The Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus provides access to outdoor scenario learning opportunities while having minimal impact on the landscape. Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, BRAD CHRISTENSEN

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

21


CINDI PIERCE

Supporting a Foundation in Wilderness Education Long before the Pierce family knew of NOLS, when their son Andrew was 11 years old, they took a guided rafting tour through the Grand Canyon. The excursion was a terrific way to introduce their two children to the wilderness and has provided a foundation for many family adventures since. The Pierces have found these moments provide a platform for family cohesiveness and sparked a passion in their son. Andrew has since taken a rock-climbing course, climbed Gannet Peak in Wyoming, and spent a semester in Patagonia—all with NOLS. Cindi, Andrew’s mother, believes that in our comfortable society, there are not many forums where “lifelong bonding” is incubated. NOLS provides that forum. For Andrew, one of these bonding moments happened on his climbing course while learning to rappel. The instructor led them to the top of a precipice to explain the art of rappelling. “Andrew was ready, but his partner froze as he saw his life pass before his eyes,” Cindi recited. “Somehow, his partner made the first move, and then he had to talk Andrew off the ledge!” For Cindi, these moments are what make NOLS so important. She explained life is very comfortable in the U.S., and often predictability is sought over risk. NOLS courses allow students to face risk and tackle the related challenges. “Andrew was not rappelling down a plywood wall in some gymnasium,” she explained. “It is true, people thrive when challenged, and the NOLS experience has a unique balance between mental and physical challenges that make it particularly rewarding when you successfully tackle them.” Cindi has been so impressed with NOLS that she decided to offer her unique experience in nonprofit and higher education financial planning to the school. As a member of the NOLS Board of Trustees, she helps enhance the school’s strong governance and financial management. “I am thrilled to be a part of this organization and look forward to continuing to make these great programs available to all who wish to engage in them,” she said.

Facing and overcoming challenge are essential to growth, which NOLS graduates then put to use in impressive ways. Rocky Mountain, NACHO GREZ


FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

STRONGER THAN EVER AS WE COME TO THE END OF ANOTHER FISCAL YEAR,

NOLS Balance Sheet

EXPENSES

Aug. 31, 2013 and 2012

81% Program 16% Administration 3

%

Fundraising

ASSETS Cash Investments Endowment investments Receivables Pledges receivable

$18,625,000

$18,665,000

2,355,000

972,000

24,058,000

18,677,000

755,000

819,000

1,254,000

2,503,000

Prepaid expenses

354,000

417,000

857,000

777,000

1,132,000

1,117,000

29,710,000

27,193,000

$79,100,000

$71,140,000

$4,950,000

$4,587,000

Property, plant, and equipment net TOTAL ASSETS

73% Tuition and Fees

2012

Merchandise Other

TOTAL REVENUE

2013

LIABILITES AND NET ASSETS Accounts payable

15% Fundraising

Student deposits

6,724,000

7,260,000

7

Total liabilites

$11,674,000

$11,847,000

Net assets

$67,426,000

$59,293,000

$79,100,000

$71,140,000

%

Investment Earnings

5% Other Program Revenue

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND NET ASSETS

WE WILL CONTINUE TO INVEST AND USE OUR FINANCIAL RESERVES TO SUPPORT OUR STUDENTS AND MISSION WHILE PROTECTING THE INTEGRITY OF OUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES.

it is with great pride that we once again announce the financial position of NOLS has never been stronger. Through the hard work of staff and the guidance of supporters, we have been able to operate in a very fiscally responsible manner at all levels. We know the greatest strength of NOLS is our mission and that a strong financial foundation is essential to carry that mission into the future. Through a growing endowment, identified reserves, and lack of long-term debt, we are building that foundation. One area where we have seen significant growth is endowment investments. The majority of this growth has come from new gifts to the endowment, but we are also very proud of our 14-percent investment return this past fiscal year. The endowment is an increasing piece of our financial foundation, providing support for scholarships and mission. Also of note is the increase in our property, plant, and equipment. This is due in large part to the completion of the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, as well as the majority of the construction of a new facility in New Zealand. The financial resources that have been generated over the years from operations and support from donors are an important responsibility and opportunity. A key part of our strategic plan has been to create and fund cash reserves, not only to sustain us in difficult circumstances but also to allow us to pursue opportunities. The ability to create, maintain, and add to these reserve accounts is a measure of our financial success and cause for confidence in looking to the future. We will continue to invest and use our financial reserves to support our students and mission.

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

23


OUR STATEMENT OF ACTIVITIES IS REFLECTIVE OF

NOLS Statement of Activities For the fiscal years ending Aug. 31, 2013 and 2012 UNRESTRICTED

TEMPORARILY RESTRICTED

PERMANENTLY RESTRICTED

TOTAL 2013

TOTAL 2012

$28,758,000

$-

$-

$28,758,000

$27,641,000

REVENUES AND OTHER SUPPORT PROGRAM REVENUES Tuition and fees Other program revenues Total program revenue

1,966,000

-

-

1,966,000

1,871,000

30,724,000

-

-

30,724,000

29,512,000

1,230,000

1,339,000

3,429,000

5,998,000

4,923,000

448,000

(448,000)

-

-

-

491,000

(491,000)

-

-

-

FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES Contributions and grants Released from endowment Net assets released from restriction for Program Buildings and Equipment Total fundraising revenue

2,127,000

(2,127,000)

-

-

-

4,296,000

(1,727,000)

3,429,000

5,998,000

4,923,000

INVESTMENT AND OTHER REVENUE Interest and investment income

107,000

146,000

-

253,000

296,000

Net realized and unrealized gains on investments

821,000

1,720,000

-

2,541,000

682,000

Gain (loss) on sale of equipment

1,000

-

-

1,000

62,000

929,000

1,866,000

-

2,795,000

1,040,000

35,949,000

139,000

3,429,000

39,517,000

35,475,000

25,464,000

-

-

25,464,000

24,326,000

5,011,000

-

-

5,011,000

4,404,000

-

-

-

-

41,000

909,000

-

-

909,000

974,000

TOTAL EXPENSES

31,384,000

-

-

31,384,000

29,745,000

CHANGE IN NET ASSETS

$4,565,000

$139,000

$3,429,000

$8,133,000

$5,730,000

Total investment and other revenue TOTAL REVENUE AND OTHER SUPPORT

EXPENSES Program Administration Interest Fundraising

24

NATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

our continued focus on meeting both our educational and financial goals. Again this year we are proud of our success in the planned implementation of our strategic plan goals and also in how we dealt with a constantly changing and unpredictable operating environment. One thing that is constant and predictable, however, is how, when faced with operational challenges, staff throughout the school responds in much the same manner as when faced with challenges in the field: by being flexible and innovative. We continue to thrive financially in very challenging times, and this past year we set a new high for NOLS in operating revenue and achieved our highest overall change in net assets ever. There is much that is familiar in comparing the last two fiscal years. In both years, we received strong philanthropic support, most notably through gifts to Campaign NOLS and in support of the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. We are also proud of our stewardship of our endowment investments where we achieved an investment return of 14 percent this past fiscal year. The combination of strong philanthropic support, positive investment returns, and another strong operating year resulted in this highest-ever increase in our overall net assets. The education of our students is, as always, our primary focus. We are again very pleased with the financial results we achieved this past year to support that focus. The strategic plan has provided us with a direction for the future, and while the conditions of the world have forced us at times to change our path, we feel certain we are on track to meet our goals. We recognize the importance of being excellent stewards of our financial resources. Our positive financial results are due to the support and efforts of many and will help us to carry our mission into the future.


THOUGH THE LAST SEVEN YEARS HAVE BEEN A TIME

NOLS Seven-Year Financial Highlights Total assets Total liabilities Net assets

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

$79,100,000

$71,140,000

$66,675,000

$59,341,000

$55,140,000

$54,113,000

$52,510,000

11,674,000

11,847,000

13,112,000

12,932,000

13,329,000

13,069,000

13,041,000

$67,426,000

$59,293,000

$53,563,000

$46,409,000

$41,811,000

$41,044,000

$39,469,000

REVENUE $30,724,000

$29,512,000

$28,661,000

$27,009,000

$25,897,000

$25,356,000

$22,365,000

Contributions

Program

5,998,000

4,923,000

5,126,000

2,516,000

1,945,000

1,862,000

3,505,000

Investment

2,794,000

978,000

1,833,000

943,000

(1,754,000)

(553,000)

2,506,000

1,000

62,000

(160,000)

30,000

7,000

16,000

43,000

39,517,000

35,475,000

35,460,000

30,498,000

26,095,000

26,681,000

28,419,000

25,464,000

24,326,000

23,313,000

21,389,000

20,666,000

20,641,000

18,360,000

909,000

974,000

837,000

746,000

819,000

754,000

667,000

5,011,000

4,445,000

4,156,000

3,765,000

3,843,000

3,711,000

4,148,000

Other Total revenues EXPENSES Program Fundraising Administration and interest Total expenses

31,384,000

29,745,000

28,306,000

25,900,000

25,328,000

25,106,000

23,175,000

Change in net assets

$8,133,000

$5,730,000

$7,154,000

$4,598,000

$767,000

$1,575,000

$5,244,000

NUMBER OF STUDENTS NOLS field courses Wilderness Medicine Institute Leave No Trace

3,011

3,121

3,125

2,932

2,952

3,148

3,002

15,683

14,119

13,005

11,516

10,299

10,093

8,364

53

97

80

48

45

71

78

517

385

338

518

346

208

251

Total students

19,264

17,722

16,548

15,014

13,642

13,520

11,695

Number of student days

208,787

205,155

202,957

192,667

186,475

188,829

169,764

NOLS Professional Training

Scholarship recipients Scholarships awarded

624

613

583

480

534

421

357

$1,543,000

$1,519,000

$1,462,000

$1,307,000

$1,195,000

$1,076,000

$915,000

of economic turmoil and unpredictability, one constant has been the continued growth of both the educational impact and financial position of NOLS. Our net assets have increased in each of the last seven years and have nearly doubled over this time. These continued positive results are indicative of the commitment of NOLS staff and supporters to ensuring the NOLS mission thrives today and into the future. Another highlight over the past seven years is the growth in the scholarships we have been able to award. Total scholarships awarded in 2013 in the amount of $1,543,000 represents an increase of nearly 70 percent over 2007. These scholarships have made the benefits of a NOLS education available and accessible to more students and would not be possible without the generous support of our friends. While each of the last seven years is a collection of unique stories, NOLS has consistently seen strong operating results and support. Contributions to our mission have continued to grow through gifts to the NOLS Annual Fund, our endowment, the International Base Camp Initiative, Campaign NOLS, and the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. Gifts to these campaigns over the past seven years have reached nearly $26 million. Thanks to the support and efforts of many, we continue to build on the successes of our past and look to our future with a strong financial position.

2013 STATE OF THE SCHOOL REPORT

25


PAMELA ROSEN

Expedition Behavior in the Office and Beyond Pamela Rosen strives to be a good team player in all environments. Whether at home, at the law firm, or in the backcountry, she wants to be someone colleagues and friends can rely upon. While the consequences may not be as immediate in the frontcountry, Rosen believes that having a good team and being a good team player are still vital, lessons she learned on her 23-and-over Backcountry Skiing course in 2011. As a new graduate of Emory University School of Law, she wanted a way to celebrate completing the bar exam, and as an avid downhill skier, NOLS seemed like just the right challenge. Thanks to a scholarship she received from NOLS, Rosen was able to expand on her love of the outdoors. Rosen was nervous about how she would handle the cold weather. She had never been winter camping, unlike a coursemate who had done research in Antarctica, and she wasn’t a strong telemark skier, but she soon learned that she could overcome the uncertainty and rise to the occasion. “My NOLS experience taught me that even in a situation where I was completely out of my element, with the right support and coaching I could transfer my skills and abilities and be successful,” Rosen recalled. “Every new challenge presents an opportunity to learn and work on improving, but my strengths are the foundation for any success both in the backcountry and in the frontcountry.” When the going got tough, especially when skinning up a steep hill while carrying a backpack and towing a sled, Rosen was able to dig deep. She would focus on putting one foot in front of the other while repeating the mantra, “push, push, push.” Today, Rosen is able to apply this in her work as a lawyer and in her daily life. “My NOLS course serves as a great concrete example for me that a) I can push through and achieve a goal and b) how great it feels to achieve that goal,” she explained. Rosen is grateful to NOLS and the donors who made her course possible through scholarship support. She contributes to the NOLS Annual Fund to help other people have the same remarkable experience she had.

NOLS teaches the lasting lesson that, “a) I can push through and achieve a goal and b) how great it feels to achieve that goal,” as Pamela Rosen says. Teton Valley, PASCAL BEAUVAIS


National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln Street • Lander, WY 82520 www.nols.edu • (800) 710-NOLS Cover: Fredrik Norrsell, Patagonia; Back: Alexis Alloway, Alaska


2013 NOLS State of the School Report