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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 17, 2010

Graduates of National Outdoor Leadership School
Active in Earthquake Relief Efforts

Graduates of Lander’s National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) are finding that wilderness leadership skills—namely, expedition behavior, competence, communication, judgment & decision-making, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, self-awareness, and vision and action—are as useful in the humanitarian world as they are in the backcountry.

Many NOLS graduates are involved in humanitarian development and relief work worldwide, and at least five are currently involved in earthquake relief efforts in Chile and Haiti.

Take Tom Turley, for example. About ten years ago, 33-year-old Turley was looking for a change in direction. He felt content with his job as logistics coordinator for AmeriCares, a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization, when he decided that working with youth at risk was an enticing career change. Tom discovered NOLS while meeting AmeriCares’ gear suppliers at the Outdoor Retailer Show in 1998. The following spring, Tom arrived in Lander, Wyoming, to spend a Semester in the Rockies. After three months backpacking, kayaking and climbing across the Mountain West, Tom decided that humanitarian work was his calling after all!

Tom’s career with AmeriCares continues. In recent years he has been engaged in humanitarian efforts in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, and in California during the 2007 fire season. He is now in Haiti helping with earthquake relief.

Tom is just one NOLS grad who is “in the thick of it.” NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) grad Sara Nelson wrote recently, “Just got back from two weeks in Haiti, working at a field hospital about 45 minutes outside of Port-Au-Prince.” Sara is an ER doctor in Maine. Graham Brant-Zawadzki, also a WMI grad, is heading to Haiti this summer with a group of physicians, nurses, and medical school students to work with and help train Haitian heath care workers. Shane Young, also a WMI grad, headed to Haiti soon after the earthquake struck and is hoping to use either his Wilderness EMT skills or his background in construction and heavy equipment to help with relief efforts. And finally, David Edson, who spent 80 days in Patagonia with NOLS, is now on his way back to Chile with the nonprofit relief organization Convoy of Hope.

There seems to be something about NOLS, and particularly its Wilderness Medicine Institute, that sparks its graduates to help others. The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are not the only events that have prompted NOLS graduates to drop everything and head abroad to help out. Kelly Pyke is involved in international relief work in Uganda. Jerry Jex just returned from a year and a half of development work in the Philippines. Glad Griebling just returned from a year of medical relief work in the Sudan. Paul Dreyer just devoted three months to humanitarian work in Nepal. Michelle Murphy just returned from leading a team on medical relief work in Ghana. Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin worked in Southern Tamil Nadu, India, after the 2004 tsunami, coordinating the efforts of various organizations with the needs of tsunami-affected villagers. Justin Padjett founded Landmark Learning, a relief medic program, and is dedicated to rural medical care in Ecuador. And, Dr. Sharon Stein (a NOLS Kenya grad and specialist surgeon), Jeff Allen (WMI grad), and Jesse Karp (a NOLS river instructor) work with Doctors Without Borders in Africa.

NOLS is proud that these and other NOLS graduates have dedicated their lives to helping others.

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is the leader in wilderness education and sets the industry standard for responsible, high-quality educational expeditions. NOLS provides an awe-inspiring, transformative experience that develops active, positive leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills to more than 10,000 students each year. A private nonprofit school, NOLS runs courses from 10 days to a full academic year in length on five continents. NOLS students, ages 14 to over 70, explore the most remote wilderness the Rocky Mountains, Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, Maine, Western Canada, Mexico, Patagonia (Chile), India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Scandinavia have to offer. College credit and scholarships are available. For more information, call NOLS at (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit the web site at www.nols.edu.

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