By Bruce Palmer, NOLS Director of Admission and Marketing
Reprinted from The Leader, Fall 2001, Vol. 17, No. 1
Curso de No Deje Rastro en Chile, El Curso para Educores Mexicanos, Curso de Montanismo para Chilenos - not every NOLS course is listed in the catalog of courses published here in the United States. For over ten years NOLS has been offering courses specifically designed for individuals living in the various locations where NOLS operates worldwide. These courses are taught in languages native to the area and offer the NOLS curriculum in a manner that is relevant to the locale.
The goals for these regional outreach courses are pretty straightforward. NOLS can bring much to the locations where we operate by training outdoor educators and land managers in subjects like Leave No Trace, leadership and basic outdoor skills. What the school gains when we reach out to new communities is incredible. Our views of leadership, teaching and wilderness are widened, we are introduced to talented individuals who may wish to join NOLS and we diversify our community. All of this while building valuable relationships and alliances.
In 1991 the first of these regional outreach courses took to the field in Kenya. This was a two-week long NOLS course with 12 rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service. Since then the program has grown and expanded to all of NOLS international locations. In 2001, 112 individuals in , India, Mexico, Australia and Chile earned a NOLS diploma while an additional 26 people participated in shorter NOLS seminar experiences. In each location the program is custom-crafted to address specific needs of the region and to reflect the particular talents of the NOLS staff there.
In Australia NOLS runs a training program for guides from the Bardi Aboriginal community, as well as a generous scholarship program for Australians taking courses.
NOLS Patagonia provides a 15-day course for Chilean educators, a 15-day mountaineering course for Chileans and, since 1992, Master of Leave No Trace courses for park rangers in the region. All park rangers in the Aysen Region of Chile are now required to have this training. In addition, Leave No Trace is being introduced in Argentina with support of Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company.
In recent years NOLS India has begun offering a course for Indian outdoor professionals and educators. This year an all-Indian instructor team accompanied seven students for 21 days as they learned the NOLS core curriculum in the Kumaon Himalaya. The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS offers both Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid courses in India as well.
Since 1991 NOLS Mexico has been educating both Mexican land managers and educators from across the country. Each year NOLS Mexico runs a 14-day sea kayaking course for students and faculty from local universities, while land managers can take a 12-day course called No Deje Rastro (Leave No Trace) focusing on minimum impact skills and education strategies.
NOLS also has a strong educational presence in . Every major park in Kenya has had personnel take a NOLS course. More recently, NOLS has focused on other countries in the region, teaching rangers and educators in Uganda and Tanzania as well. On a visit to , a tourist relayed that a ranger in one of the parks remarked that soon the park would be as pristine as Mount Kenya because NOLS had begun training the park's staff.
These regional outreach efforts bring much to NOLS and the regions that we operate in, but like every NOLS course it really comes down to the students themselves and the impact the experience has on them. James Ole Sumpati, a graduate of an outdoor educator course in Kenya, said, "I was able to see Mount Kenya up close instead of from afar. If we had more Kenyans going into the wilderness like this they would see for themselves what a great source of beauty we have. It makes you more caring and conscious of the environment." Sounds like a NOLS grad!