Greetings, and welcome to the first State of The Leader Address! If you’re wondering what happened to John Gans’ “Message from the Director,” we switched things around a bit to make him the first subject for our new Q&A column. With this addition, we’re hoping to introduce folks who work for NOLS and give you an inside look at the school. This inaugural edition offers a candid glimpse into where NOLS has been in the past 10 years, and where it’s headed in the future.
This Address gives us the perfect opportunity to say “thank you!” to everyone who participated in our online survey this spring. The Leader has been evolving since its inception in 1970 as the Alumnus, and we’d like to continue its incremental evolution, which is why your input was so important and appreciated. Your responses overwhelmingly reflected the environmental ethic that we try to uphold in all of our publications by using paper with the highest possible recycling content, soy-based inks and the least damaging process.
Just for kicks, we dug out the first years of the alumni publication. It had few pictures, “Jabberwocky”, and filled eight black-and-white pages. Over 30 years later, The Leader features full-color pictures, “Jabberwocky,” and runs at about 20 pages/issue. You can even find it online, complete with archives. In the summer of 1975, the cover story talked about the newly created NOLS Semester and its merits, illustrating a brand of education that broke the traditional rules. “Trade a Semester,” it urged youth. Now our semester program runs strong, with 13 different semester types in 10 locations and grads earning up to 19 college credits.
Despite all of this change, the heart of The Leader and NOLS remains the same. In his Q&A, John Gans talks about all of the programmatic changes through his 25-plus years here that end up affecting our mission and outcomes very little: namely, providing the best education in leadership, skills and environmental ethics in the most stunning classrooms.
The Leader has gone through similar surface changes. Our goal is still to keep you all connected with the school and inspired by other NOLS and WMI alumni who are out there leading their respective fields. Because it’s always surprising to discover all of the folks who have taken a NOLS course, from astronauts, to CEO’s of major companies, to musicians and beyond.
We also loved your content ideas, and you’ll see some of those in effect over the next few issues.
You’ll notice, for example, that our alumni intern, Chelsea, has helped us start a recipe box in this issue. In addition to the NOLS Cookery, we hope to provide you with creative and delicious recipes concocted in the field by alumni!
We’re also adding Branch Updates, a great way to stay connected with your particular NOLS location.
And, you’ll soon find gear reviews by our expert field testers.
We have more changes in the works that will be introduced slowly but surely. Why slowly, you wonder? To be quite honest, for the past couple of months, the publications team has been consumed by 2007. The 2007 NOLS catalog, that is, set to ship out in the fall with mostly new awe-inspiring pictures of our backcountry classrooms. With six brand-new courses and 14 world-wide locations, it may be our best-looking year yet!
Did you or someone on your course have an awesome adventure that you think other alumni would appreciate? Is there a piece of gear that you’d love to see reviewed? Are you a backcountry chef, or did you get lucky mixing flour, margarine, vanilla and M&M’s? Please let us know! (You’ll find our contact information to the left.)
As the editor of the Alumnus, John Cooper, said in Vol. 1, No. 1, “We want this to be a magazine for you and about you.” So keep in touch, and happy reading!
Your Friendly Publications Team