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From North Korea to the Northern Rockies

NOLS student gets relief from humanitarian aid

LANDER, Wyo. - February 8, 1999 -- After nearly six years of working in places like North Korea, Azerbaijan, Ufa (an obscure Russian republic), the Honduras, and Rwanda, Tom Turley, 33, is going to take a few months off to explore the wilderness of the Rockies with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Turley will be a student on a NOLS spring semester in the Rockies starting Feb. 22 in Lander. For three months he'll learn things like how to cut a telemark turn in fresh powder, how to lead a rock climbing route, how to paddle though whitewater, and the finer points of desert camping and backpacking. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, Turley admits he is looking forward to getting away from it all.

"The time is right to take a break from what I've been doing," says Turley. "I could have taken a two week vacation from my job and done a shorter course, but I wanted to jump in there and learn a bunch of skills."

Turley left his job at AmeriCares, a non-profit humanitarian organization to take part in the semester. For the past six years, Turley has seen a lot of human suffering and misery. Most recently, he was in Honduras, helping with the clean up and aid efforts in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. In 1994, he packed his bags for seven days of relief efforts in Zaire where 1 million refugees were fleeing from war-torn Rwanda. The seven days turned into six weeks.

"There was a huge cholera outbreak at the same time and the bodies were stacked up by the side of the road every morning," remembers Turley. With only a day's notice, Turley was tasked with setting up housing, translators, transportation, security and a work location for an arriving medical team. He ran logistics for the relief effort, including working closely with doctors volunteering their time. "They (the doctors) love the work because they say it gets back to the roots of why they entered medicine in the first place, to help people," notes Turley.

Essential to success in such places as North Korea and Rwanda is communication, team work, and confidence in the team. While Turley obviously brings his own skills in these areas to the table, he'll refine them during his semester at NOLS. Instruction on a semester delves into such topics as hands-on practical leadership, communication, teamwork, and cooperation among coursemates. "I'm really looking forward to learning a lot," says Turley.

Helping people is something which has defined Turley's life and he expects to continue with that goal once his NOLS semester is over. "Right now, I'm really looking forward to this change in my life," says Turley. He adds that he'd like to take the leadership and wilderness skills training he'll learn in the months ahead and apply them to helping youth at risk. "That's something I'm toying with right now is putting some energy into youth at risk, taking them out on excursions," he remarks.

This spring 92 students will come to Wyoming and the surrounding states to take part in a spring semester with NOLS, representing a 10 percent increase over last year. Students on NOLS semesters explore the canyonlands of Utah; the winter backcountry of Wyoming and Idaho; climb at places like Devil's Tower and Split Rock in Wyoming; canoe, kayak, and raft rivers such as the Green in Utah and the Dolores in Colorado; explore caves in South Dakota; and horsepack in the Red Desert of Wyoming. The outdoor and leadership school was founded in 1965 and will be celebrating its 35th year as the leader in wilderness education next year.

Press Contact:
Tom Reed
National Outdoor Leadership School
(307) 332-1299


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