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NOLS On the Road
Finding Tomorrow's Leaders
By Emy Noel, NOLS Bus Dispatcher
© Brad Christensen

What’s the newest way we’re finding first-rate leaders at NOLS? Here’s a hint – it’s 36 feet long and powered by used vegetable oil. It’s a bus – the NOLS Bus – and it will be hitting the road this summer.

Powered by used vegetable oil, solar power, and sponsored by Silk™, the makers of organic soymilk, this educational program on wheels aims to provide an active, environmentally conscious way to learn about the outdoors and celebrate leadership.

While delivering NOLS’ message of solid outdoor skills, experiential leadership, and environmental awareness, the Bus will also search for “tomorrow’s leaders” as it passes through communities throughout the country. The project aims to make NOLS leadership opportunities widely accessible – which is why NOLS On The Road is offering 15 full-tuition scholarships for summer 2005 NOLS courses. The Bus will search for these future NOLS leaders on college and high school campuses, at outdoor retailers, Whole Foods™ markets and other Silk™ vendors.

NOLS on the Road will begin its tour in the Rocky Mountain region before making its way to the West coast in late August. First stop: the University of California at Berkeley. From there, the Bus will continue through northern California and into Oregon and Washington before u-turning south through the Rockies and on into the Southwest, resting its wheels at NOLS Southwest in Tucson, Arizona for the Christmas holidays. Then it’s a fresh start in the New Year with plans to tour the Midwest, the Southeast, and the Northeast before returning to Lander after a full year on the road.

Visitors to the Bus will have a variety of opportunities to learn about outdoor activities, from sharpening their climbing skills on the 8-by-15-foot bouldering wall, to learning to fly fish in Orvis fly fishing clinics, to practicing first aid skills with the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. Visitors may also have the chance to learn the techniques of fixed-line ascension, a rope system used in caving and rock climbing.

In the evening, the Bus will become an outdoor theater, showing the NOLS video as well as independent expedition slide shows from NOLS graduates and instructors.
There will be raffles for gear, free samples of Silk™ soymilk, and computers on board for on-the-spot applications for the NOLS on the Road scholarships.

The NOLS Bus runs on used vegetable oil, a cleaner, renewable alternative to petroleum. The specially converted engine will be filled up at restaurants and dining halls where used vegetable oil is available. Rather than polluting the air with undesirable carbon dioxide, the engine leaves behind the distinct odor of — you guessed it — french fries!
Other alternative energy features on board the Bus include solar panels that power audio/visual equipment, lights and computers, and educational materials on alternative energy and organic agriculture.

If you think the Bus would be a hit in your community, contact Emy Noel at (800) 710-NOLS, ext. 2254 or via e-mail at We’ll see you at the Bus!

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