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October 19, 2010

Contact: Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin
(307) 335-2328

Wilderness Medicine Institute’s Tod Schimelpfenig Receives The Charles (Reb) Gregg Award in Wilderness Risk Management

Lander, WY. Tod Schimelpfenig, Curriculum Director for the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), was last week awarded the Charles (Reb) Gregg Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership, service and innovation in wilderness risk management. The award was presented at last week’s Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC), held in Colorado Springs.

This year’s recipient, Tod Schimelpfenig, is renowned in the field of wilderness medicine. He has spent 100 weeks in the field as an instructor for NOLS, and has been a wilderness medicine instructor since 1980. “37 years ago, I trained to become a NOLS instructor,” recalled Tod at the awards ceremony. “Adventure, challenge and epics were appealing. I admired the risk takers, relished in their tales and wanted to be like them,”

But life’s experiences changed Tod’s perspective. After losing two friends in wilderness-related incidents and becoming a parent, Tod saw risk differently. “I could no longer overlook that these epics are often born of human attitudes and error, not chance,” says Tod. “I don’t believe in taking risks to simply take risks. There has to be a higher purpose, something to better our community, humanity or our young people.”

Tod’s view of risk as something we can manage wisely manage, yet still learn from, led him to direct NOLS’ Risk Management department from 1988 to 1996, subsequently become the curriculum director for NOLS’ Wilderness Medicine Institute, serve on the board of the Wilderness Medical Society from 1992 to 1996, and author many books and articles in the field of risk management and wilderness medicine along the way. “Tod is like his wilderness medicine text: succinct and invaluable,” said Jed Williamson, former president of Sterling College and the recipient of last year’s Charles (Reb) Gregg Award. “Tod contributes to the NOLS culture of risk management by balancing old school values of self-reliance, judgment and common sense with contemporary needs for curriculum precision and effective decision-making,” said Drew Leemon, NOLS’ current Risk Management Director.

About NOLS:

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education, providing awe-inspiring, transformative experiences to nearly 14,000 students each year. These students, ages 14 to 70, learn in the wildest and most remote classrooms worldwide—from the Amazon rain forest to rugged peaks in the Himalaya to Alaskan glaciers and Arctic tundra. Graduates are active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. NOLS also offers customized courses through NOLS Professional Training, and the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS is the leading teacher of wilderness medicine worldwide. For more information, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit

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Tod Schimelpfenig, WMI Curriculum Director
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