NOLS: National Outdoor Leadership School Home
In the News
Staff & Student Profiles
  What's the Buzz? -
  Press Room
    Press Releases
    Image Gallery
    NOLS Facts
    In the News
    Staff & Alumni Expeditions
  Contact Us


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

# # #

Chat with a real person.

Sign up for the NOLSie News
NOLS Top of Page
NOLS Home About Us Courses Wilderness Medicine Institute NOLS Professional Training Alumni Store Donate Account NOLS Home Parents Press Room School Resources Photos NOLS.TV Events WRMC The NOLS Blog Introduction About Leadership History Mission & Values Profiles Partnerships Frequent Questions Find a Course School Locations Skills Leave No Trace Financial Aid Academic Credit Find a Course Skills School Locations Course Types Leave No Trace Financial Aid Academic Credit NOLS Pro Home 1-3 Day Courses 7-30 Day Courses Risk Management Staff Clients Design Your Course Contact NOLS Pro NOLS Pro 1-3 Days 7-30 Days Risk Management Clients Contact Us NOLS Pro Design Your Course NOLS Pro Staff Overview Outcome-based Curriculum Faculty Overview Outcome-based Curriculum Faculty Case Studies Overview Administrative Training Staff Training Consulting Conference: WRMC How to Apply Apply Online Download an Application Admission Policies WMI Home About WMI Courses Schedule FAQ Photos & Movies Curriculum Updates Employment Sponsors WMI Home About WMI Admissions Courses Schedule Host a Course Resources Gallery Alumni Home Trips and Events The Leader Alumni Chapters Employment Staying in Touch Volunteer Photos & Videos Home NOLS Photos NOLS.TV The NOLS Podcast NOLS on Flickr Leave No Trace Overview Leave No Trace Principles Leave No Trace Master Educator Course Host a Course Contact Enroll Map of Events Dream Expedition Leadership Week Press Room Images for the Press Archives