LANDER, Wyoming - September 4, 1998--The National Outdoor
Leadership School experienced its best year ever this year,
a sign that the renowned leadership and outdoor skills school
continues to make a significant economic impact on Wyoming
and elsewhere. This is particularly good news for Fremont
County in light of recent economic woes.
This fiscal year (the school's fiscal year runs Sept. 1-Aug.
31), 1,096 students came to Lander to take a course with
NOLS. On the average, these students stayed four to five
days in town, eating at local restaurants, and shopping
in local stores. Additionally, 276 instructors worked with
the Rocky Mountain branch of the school, based in Lander.
Some of those instructors live and own homes in Fremont
"While the school's goals are to teach wilderness
skills and leadership, we are also pleased to be a vital
contributor to our local communities and economy," remarked
John Gans, executive director for the school.
The recent health of the school is part of an overall trend
of slow, steady growth. Founded in Lander by famed mountaineer
Paul Petzoldt in 1965, the school has grown and reached
out to 45,000 graduates since that time. Growth at the school
has been noteworthy and the past decade serves an example
of how the school has impacted the area. For example, operating
revenue has increased over 150 percent from $5.5 million
in '88 to $13.9 million in '98. NOLS has also nearly doubled
the number of people it employs; in 1988, 335 people got
a paycheck from the school and in 1998, that number had
increased to 634. In 1998, payroll for Wyoming employees
was approximately $4 million; NOLS also paid $1.1 million
to Wyoming vendors.
In the past decade NOLS has added branch schools in Canada,
Patagonia and Arizona, and has begun programs in India and
Australia. A base for whitewater and river rafting was also
established in Vernal, Utah, during the past 10 years. Regionally,
NOLS operates out of several areas including a base in Driggs,
Idaho, and a ranch outside Boulder, Wyo., in addition to
the Lander headquarters.
In 1988, 1,938 students took NOLS courses worldwide. This
year, 2,947 students went out into the wilderness as NOLS
students, each staying an average of 30 days, which is an
increase of 52 percent over the 10 year period. For many
NOLS grads, completion of a course is just the beginning.
Students often return to take a second course, or take advantage
of the possibility of obtaining college credit to help further
their academic pursuits. In addition, numerous graduates
have become active in alumni associations situated throughout
the country. NOLS offers numerous trips designed for alumni
and their families. The school also added a fund-raising
arm, an aggressive scholarship program, became a founding
partner of the international Leave No Trace minimum impact
camping effort and is raising an endowment.
NOLS is truly a worldwide nonprofit organization with programs
in , Mexico, Yukon Territory, Australia, India
and Patagonia (Chile). The school also operates the following
domestic branches: Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Pacific Northwest
and Alaska. International operations are based in Lander,
Wyo., as they have been since the school's founding 33 years
"We're an international educator, but our roots are
still in Wyoming," said Gans. "Even when we are
far away in places like Chile and Mexico, we spread word
about the school and act as ambassadors of Wyoming."
National Outdoor Leadership School