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New Arrival in the NOLS International Headquarters Building

July 15, 2002

There are some new faces in the National Outdoor Leadership School's international headquarters building in Lander. The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS (WMI), formerly located in Pitkin, Colo., moved into its space on Monday, bringing with it10 in-town employees who are excited to join the Lander community.

NOLS purchased the organization in 1999 from founders Buck Tilton and Melissa Gray, WMI has grown to become the West's largest and most recognized teacher of wilderness medicine, offering more than 250 courses to approximately 6,000 students each year all over the world.

Because medical emergencies in the wilderness often happen in remote settings without access to modern medical facilities, WMI's courses train people to provide immediate care when help isn't an ambulance call away. Their certifications in courses including the Wilderness EMT and Wilderness First Responder are recognized internationally by guide services, outfitters and many colleges and universities.

The move marks the last step in WMI's integration with NOLS, and the institute's staff look forward to the opportunities a larger community offers. Though many of WMI's courses are taught on college campuses and other facilities around the world, they will consider Lander their home base. The organization will run its Wilderness EMT and WMI instructor programs, as well as a spectrum of other course offerings, primarily out of Lander.

The development of a rustic campus near town will be critical for WMI's success in Lander. Central Wyoming College's field station has been the site of some WMI courses since 1989, but it currently can't accommodate WMI's long-term needs. As a result, the institute is currently working on an economic development grant to improve the facilities at CWC to accommodate more courses. If the grant is approved, WMI will use the facility 6 to 7 months each year, and the field station will continue to host other community education opportunities. The improvements will include expanded classroom space, a kitchen and new bathhouse, and housing.

"People laugh at us because we see Lander as a big city," says WMI Director and Co-founder Melissa Gray. "When we left Pitkin, Colorado we took fifteen percent of the population with us."

The WMI staff, who have brought their families with them to Lander, are excited to get settled in their new community. "We are very interested in becoming part of the Lander community and joining different organizations," says Gray. "We're community-oriented people."

WMI was a major part of their small community in Pitkin, where they recently helped acquire grant money for a new fire truck for the town's fire department.

And the organization brings to Lander a diverse group of people, among them medical professionals with years of experience. Mark Crawford, WMI's Wilderness EMT program director, served for 21 years as a Pararescueman before coming to WMI. Crawford, who stopped counting his jumps after number 750, sees less excitement these days but brings a fortune of experiences to the WMI classroom. "I help students learn that they're going to make a big difference in someone's life. Anyone who's going out in remote places should take a WMI course," he says.

Crawford and his wife, Judy, WMI program director, have moved to Lander with their two children. "I'm excited because of the community available here for our children," says Mark. "It's going to be great."

WMI Director Melissa Gray echoes his excitement. "We're in the big city now."

Kerry Brophy
Publications Manager
Phone: (307) 335-2271
Fax: (307) 332-8811
National Outdoor Leadership School
284 Lincoln Street
Lander, WY 82520-3140


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