Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal never graduated from a NOLS course. But you’d think he had, said NOLS Executive Director John Gans as he introduced the governor at NOLS’ 40th celebration. “While not a NOLS grad, the governor’s actions and values would make you think he is,” Gans said. “He’s smart, he’s a great leader… It’s hard to believe he developed these skills without being a NOLS grad!”
Wyoming’s 31st governor may not have been on a NOLS expedition, but he knows Wyoming. The 54-year-old Democrat, elected in 2002, grew up on a family farm north of Thermopolis, Wyoming. And he knows that the lessons NOLS teaches are valuable to his home state.
“One of the important things about NOLS is that you use nature as a classroom for the opportunities we all have as human beings,” Freudenthal said. “So you end up with people who have an appreciation for nature.”
That’s a good thing for Wyoming, a state that’s at the epicenter of the nation’s thirsty demands for fossil fuels. “Wyoming is a remarkable state. We are essentially in the bulls-eye over the conversation about energy,” the governor said.
“NOLS must produce graduates who know it’s all about balance,” Freudenthal continued. “Ultimately balance means nobody gets 100% of what they want. Leadership isn’t always about getting what you want. You have to arrive at a solution that works not just for you but for the group.”
And the pressure’s on for NOLS to continue producing effective leaders. The governor reminded the crowd that if we don’t do things right with our natural resources, NOLS may not be around to celebrate its 60th.