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For Immediate Release
Feb. 11, 2003

Contact Information:
Bruce Palmer

NOLS Closes East Africa School

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will close its program in East Africa on June 30, 2003. The decision, made by the NOLS Board of Trustees, comes after many years of evaluating various aspects of the East Africa program, which began in 1974.

Some factors that contributed to the program's closure include a continual decrease in available operating areas in East Africa due to social and political unrest, and concerns about the school's long-term ability to manage the risks associated with traveling in the region. NOLS has altered its program in East Africa numerous times over the years to manage these risks appropriately, including changing the location of the coastal section on semesters. As the NOLS Board of Trustees looks toward the future, however, they feel risk management concerns will increase and could take many more years to resolve. The school has also seen a significant drop in the last three years in its enrollment on NOLS East Africa courses.

The Board's decision comes with an understanding of the impacts the closure will have on members of the NOLS community. John Gans, NOLS Executive Director, says "many staff dedicated years of their lives to our mission and program in Kenya. Our educational outcomes have been important to individuals, and to the countries of Kenya and Tanzania. We have built ties between our students and the amazing wilderness areas and wildlife of East Africa. We have also built ties between people, cultures, tribes and countries, and in the process have dramatically enriched the NOLS community."

NOLS has trained many staff in the region and has numerous graduates from East Africa. Over the coming months the school will work with those who are interested in starting their own local program in the region. It is the Board’s strong desire that wilderness education continues in East Africa, despite NOLS’ departure.

Students currently on the final NOLS Semester in East Africa will finish their course in March, and students enrolled on upcoming courses in East Africa are encouraged to apply for other NOLS offerings.

© M. Freel
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