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Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
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Community Outreach and Partnerships

NOLS is lucky to be part of over a dozen communities across the globe and a partner to some extraordinary organizations. Involving our friends in campaigns and projects, sharing our sustainability successes and failures, and harnessing the power of the outdoors community is all part of our sustainability outreach plan at NOLS.

Here are just a few of the community projects we’ve completed in the last few years:

Community Riverbank Clean-up Day
Riverbank Clean-up DayIn the spirit of Earth Week 2010, over 50 NOLS staff and community members in Lander, Wyoming, joined together to clean up the town’s river and park areas. We collected enough trash to fill a standard-sized dumpster! Participants enjoyed the spring sunshine and a fantastic BBQ provided by local businesses. Learn more…

Energy Conservation

Partnerships with a variety of agencies and energy providers have enabled NOLS to make great strides in reducing our energy consumption and emissions.

In May 2010, NOLS Teton Valley received $18,151 in grants from Protect Our Winters (POW) and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to install solar panels on its facility and integrate sustainability into the campus’ educational curriculum. These funds, coupled with an approximately $30,000 allocation from NOLS, will help this campus reach school-wide sustainability targets. The photovoltaic system, which will be installed by Lander, Wyoming based Creative Energies, could generate up to 30% of the power used on the campus. The POW Foundation grant came in part from the Grand Targhee Resort, its employees, and guests of the resort who made donations to POW when purchasing lift tickets. The BEF grant was awarded through its Solar 4R Schools renewable energy education program, funded by the public’s purchase of BEF Carbon Offsets.

An array of solar panels produces 40% of NOLS Rocky Mountain’s energy needs. Installed in 2008, this system was funded by a generous donation from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Fund. When energy use at NOLS Rocky Mountain is minimal, energy goes back into the grid and into neighbors’ homes.

In late 2009, NOLS received $261,000 in federal funding through the State of Wyoming to fund energy efficiency retrofits at several of our Wyoming facilities. The money will be used for new lighting systems, energy efficient windows and appliances, and improvements to our heating and ventilation system at headquarters.

In early 2010, the State awarded NOLS with an additional $112,700 to complete energy efficiency projects we proposed in our initial request for funding. With this substantial support, our Wyoming facilities will benefit from a serious efficiency upgrade!

Alaska Community Supported Agriculture
In addition to providing food for staff and students, the Alaska garden project reaches out to the local community through workshops, internships, tours, and produce sales. In 2009, five families participated in a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), receiving a weekly box of seasonal vegetables.

Land Management Agencies
The relationships we have built over the years with land management agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are very important to our operations as a school and our position as a steward. We work with these agencies on issues from permitting to land management planning and policy.

Wyoming Range Call-a-thon
In an effort to help pass the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, NOLS staff took time out of their workday to call over 500 NOLS alumni in swing districts. Of the twenty districts targeted, five representatives changed their votes in favor of the bill! Learn more…

Trash Your Can
Trash Your CanAs part of Earth Week 2009, NOLS staff members voluntarily gave up their personal trash cans in exchange for a comparable size recycle bin and a small department trashcan. The event created an office climate where recycling was more convenient than trash and encouraged participants to think about the waste they were creating. Learn more…

Sinks Canyon Center Outreach
In addition to partnering with the Sinks Canyon Center to use their facilities for Wilderness Medicine Institute courses, NOLS is able to support the Center in its efforts to become more sustainable by sharing our experiences with energy efficient retrofits at our International Headquarters and operating locations.

Focus the Nation
Focus the NationIn January 2008 NOLS joined educational institutions, businesses, civic groups, and places of worship across the nation in an event intended to spark discussion about practical solutions to climate change. NOLS coordinated events in Lander and Jackson, bringing in speakers and reaching out to schools, businesses, and organizations to discuss sustainable community development. Learn more…

Step It Up
On April 14, 2007, Lander became one of more than 1,400 communities to participate in the Step It Up: National Day of Climate Action, urging Congress to cut carb on emissions by 80% by 2050. NOLS partnered with the Wyoming Conservation Voters, Wyoming Outdoor Council, and local merchants to organize an event. Over 120 concerned citizens pedaled their bikes to Lander City Park for music and words of wisdom from local visionaries, politicians, and entrepreneurs, including historian and conservationist Tom Bell. Learn more…

Solar Veggie Bus
The NOLS BusFor four years, the NOLS Bus traveled the country, offering lessons on leadership, backcountry skills, and environmental ethics. Visitors learned about alternative energy, practiced their climbing skills on the bus’ bouldering wall, learned about NOLS courses, perfected their fly-fishing cast, and gained understanding about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. By running on solar power and vegetable oil collected at restaurants and dining halls along the way, we practiced what we teach and demonstrated that alternative energies aren’t just possible, they are practical. Learn more…


NOLS Staff and community members join together to encourage congress to cut carbon emissions at a Step It Up rally in Lander, Wyoming.

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