If NOLS has a reputation as the premier teacher of outdoor skills and leadership, then the NOLS Bus is the mobile, interactive manifestation of those principles. The attention it receives while traveling from city to city and teaching lessons on leadership, backcountry skills and environmental ethics affirms its effectiveness as a teaching tool. October 1 marks the beginning of its third year on the road, the unveiling of its updated features, and a new relationship with corporate sponsor Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt company, who will help to extend the bus’s educational reach.
The bus campaign, “Creating a Climate for Change,” incorporates NOLS’ skills and leadership with Stonyfield Farm’s sustainable farming and organic products. “This is an excellent partnership between two outstanding organizations,” said Stonyfield Farm CE-YO Gary Hirshberg. “Stonyfield Farm and NOLS share a number of values including a strong environmental ethic and a belief in the power of education to create change.” The new collaboration will broaden the scope of NOLS and Stonyfield Farm’s shared commitment to the environment.
Since 1983, Stonyfield Farm has pioneered responsible business practices. The company gives 10 percent of its annual profits to organizations with Earth-friendly initiatives, offsets global warming by increasing efficiency and reducing waste, and supports local organic farmers. In addition to making dairy products free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and milking cows that have not been exposed to recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), Stonyfield Farm is one of the most successful and recognizable names in the market.
Nothing helps broadcast an admirable mission, however, like the NOLS Bus. In two years and over 50,000 miles, the bus has visited nearly 200 colleges, universities, schools, festivals, parades, expositions and outdoor retailers in 48 states. Like the classrooms NOLS instructors create in the backcountry, the bus is a unique and powerful learning environment. Visitors can practice their skills on its climbing wall, learn about NOLS programs, perfect their fly fishing cast, and learn about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. Recycled vegetable oil, a cleaner, renewable alternative to petroleum, collected from restaurants and dining halls powers the diesel engine, and eight solar panels that line the top of the bus power DVD players, computers, cell phones, air conditioners, heaters and the refrigerators that keep Stonyfield products cold.
The bus rolls out this season with many new features. Curtis Tronolone, who speaks excitedly about the “rebirth of the bus,” returns for a second tour and is joined by Lander natives Nora Kratz and Riley Hopeman. They, along with fellow marketing officers at NOLS International Headquarters, spent countless hours gutting the interior of the bus, stripping the exterior panels, and revamping the engine.
New graphics celebrating the NOLS/Stonyfield union wrap the NOLS Bus with equal parts backcountry landscapes and organic yogurt, showcasing the “Creating a Climate for Change” mission on a bright, four-sided billboard. Two additional solar panels, two new batteries, more powerful inverters and a smaller, more efficient generator have enabled the bus to generate, store and use more power; it is completely self-sustaining. Each and every modification lifts the bus further off the grid of traditional energy sources and into the realm of renewable energy sources. This campaign, Kratz explains, effectively “emphasizes NOLS’ ties to environmental ethics and sustainability” not only by partnering with an organization that prioritizes sustainability and wilderness preservation, but also by forcing NOLS to set and reset its own standards.
You can learn about NOLS and sample Stonyfield Farm products as the bus motors from coast to coast this fall and winter. Keep checking our events page to see when it will be in a town near you.