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NOLS Booming

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 County.

"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 ago.

"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."

Press Contact:
Bruce Palmer
National Outdoor Leadership School
(307) 332-1230


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