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History
   
NOLS History
Timeline
  Paul Petzoldt
NOLS Timeline
   

Present
To date, there are nearly 200,000 graduates of NOLS.

August 2008
48 states, 2 countries, 151,601 miles, 1,503 days on the road and countless gallons of recycled vegetable oil later, the NOLS Bus is retired. See the tribute video here.

June 2008
NOLS runs its first course in Scandinavia.

May 2008
Outside Magazine names NOLS as one of the Top 30 Best Places To Work.

April 2008
Expedition 2013: NOLS’ new 5-year strategic plan announced.

March 2008
Backcountry Cooking: Creative Menu Planning For Short Trips, by Claudia Pearson and Joanne Kuntz, is published by NOLS. To date, the NOLS library contains 19 publications.

 

February 2008
NOLS Rocky Mountain flips the switch on its newly installed solar electric array, which will provide roughly 40 percent of the facility's electric power.

In Chile, NOLS Patagonia completes installation of a new geo-thermal system to heat administrative offices and facilities.

2007
NOLS River Educator Notebook, edited by Nate Ostis and John Gookin, is published by NOLS.

 

October 2007
NOLS runs its first Sonoran Year course.
August 2007
NOLS completes the on-site portion of the sustainability audit. Sustainability consultants, Pure Strategies, travel to Lander, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest to assess NOLS operations and learn about the school's existing conservation programs.

After over three years of production, the Travel Channel airs the NOLS television series Backcountry Boot Camp.

July 2007
After nearly three years on the road, the NOLS bus travels to North Dakota, its final contiguous U.S. state.

 

June 2007
Michael Schmertzler named Chairman of Board of Trustees.

March 2007
International Base Camp Initiative exceeds $10 million dollar goal.

 

Feburary 14, 2007
The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS (WMI) and Landmark Learning form a partnership greatly expanding the area in which WMI courses are run.

 

February 2007
NOLS launches its new sustainability initiative, with the goal of creating a comprehensive, long-term plan to reduce the school's global environmental footprint. For more detail about the work NOLS is doing around the world, visit Creating a Climate for Change.

 

January 2007
Noble Hotel renovation is completed and opens to the public.

2006
Wilderness Medicine, by Tod Schimelpfinig, is revised and published in its third edition.

Wilderness Ethics, by Jennifer Lamb and Glenn Goodrich, is revised published in its second edition.

NOLS Wilderness Educator Notebook, edited by John Gookin, is published by NOLS.

October 2006
NOLS runs the first Year In Patagonia course, the first ever year-long program in outdoor education.

September 2006
NOLS runs its first course in the Amazon.

 

July 2006
NOLS runs its first course on Baffin Island.
2005
More than 400 people gather to celebrate NOLS’ 40th anniversary.

NOLS receives the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for its fair, honest and ethical business practices.

Wilderness Navigation, by Darran Wells, is published by NOLS.

Winter Camping, by Buck Tilton and John Gookin, is published by NOLS.

NOLS Risk Management For Outdoor Leaders, by Drew Leemon and Tod Schimelpfenig, is published by NOLS.

NOLS Sea Kayak Instructor Notebook, edited by Bruce Smithhammer, is published by NOLS.

June 2005
Fred Kleisner is named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

2004
The NOLS Cookery, by Claudia Pearson, is revised and published in its fifth edition.

NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook, edited by John Gookin and Shari Leach, is published by NOLS.

The production of a NOLS television series called Backcountry Boot Camp, filmed during a Wind River Mountaineering course, begins.

 

October 2004
Joan K. Chitiea named Trustee Emeritus.

August 2004
The NOLS solar and vegetable-powered bus rolls out of Lander promoting NOLS, leadership and alternative energies nationwide.

 

July 2004
Outside Magazine ranks NOLS as the #1 Ultimate Adventure Camp.
April 2004
NOLS Australia established.
2003
Soft Paths, by Bruce Hampton and David Cole, is revised and published in its third edition.

Wilderness Wisdom, edited by John Gookin, is published by NOLS.

NOLS Sailing Instructor Notebook, by George Van Sickle, is published by NOLS.

Leave No Trace Master Educator Notebook, by Buck Tilton, is published by NOLS.

 

October 2003
Gene R. Tremblay named Chairman Emeritus.

September 2003
Peter Roy named Chairman of NOLS’ board of trustees.

February 2003
NOLS community is deeply saddened by the news of the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy—the entire crew of astronauts had training with NOLS Professional Training in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains.

NOLS closes its East Africa school.

NOLS offers its first course in New Zealand.

2002
NOLS Environmental Education Notebook, by John Gookin and Darran Wells, is published by NOLS.

NOLS Nutrition Field Guide, by Mary Howley, is published by NOLS.

The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS (WMI) relocates its headquarters from Pitkin, Colorado to the newly contructed NOLS International Headquarters Building.

 

November 2002
NOLS moves into its new headquarters in Lander, Wyoming.

June 2001
Frank Pisch named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.
2000
NOLS Climbing Instructor Handbook, edited by Phil Powers and Michael Cheek, is published by NOLS.

June 2000
NOLS breaks ground for the schools’ new headquarters facility.

Allen B. Macomber named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

January 2000
NOLS announces the creation of NOLS Professional Training, which provides seminars, customized training, consulting services and program reviews to outdoor educators and programs around the globe, including NASA.

  1990s

1999
Wilderness Guide, by Mark Harvey, is revised and published in its second edition.

 

November 1999
Thelma Young, NOLS equipment seamstress and the longest tenured NOLS employee, dies at the age of 69.

October 1999
Paul Petzoldt, founder of NOLS, dies at the age of 91.

September 1999
NOLS announces the creation of NOLS Professional Training, which provides seminars, customized training, consulting services and program reviews to outdoor educators and programs around the globe, including NASA.

The Idaho Base becomes NOLS Teton Valley.


April 1999
NOLS purchases the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI).

1998
Paul Petzoldt's 90th Birthday Celebration takes place at Grand Targhee.

NOLS Sailing Instructor Notebook, by George Van Sickle, is published by NOLS.

June 1998
Gretchen Long Glickman named Chairwoman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

1997
The purchase of the property NOLS Kenya had leased is completed.

Spring 1997
The new Utah facility is completed.

June 1996
Gene R. Tremblay named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

Fall 1995
Mission Statement: The National Outdoor Leadership School's mission is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve the people and the environment.

Jim Ratz resigns as executive director. John Gans replaces him.

Summer 1995
The Western Canada Branch starts operating out of Smithers, B.C., running courses in British Columbia and Yukon Territory. Now called NOLS Yukon.

Joanne Hurley becomes the first woman to be named Chairwoman of the NOLS Board of Trustees.

October 1994
Homer L. Luther named Chairman Emeritus.

1994
NOLS coordinates the first Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC), held at NOLS Pacific Northwest in Conway, Washington.

 

1993
The Idaho base in Driggs purchased.

Philip Barnett named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

Spring 1993
The current Southwest facility is purchased. Planning and remodeling are done on the facility with completion in the spring of 1994.

1992
Wilderness Medicine, by Tod Schimelpfenig, is published by NOLS.

Wilderness Ethics, by Susan Chadwick Brame and Chad Henderson, is published by NOLS.

Wilford Welch named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

Spring 1992
A warehouse is rented and the whitewater program moves to Vernal, Utah, where it still runs out of today.

October 1991
Paul Petzoldt named NOLS Founder and President Emeritus.

September 1991
The Southwest facility in Tucson, which had been operating as a base of the NOLS Rocky Mountain, becomes NOLS Southwest.

NOLS offers its first course in India.

NOLS runs its first Leave No Trace (LNT) course. The Outreach Department now runs more than 15 LNT Masters courses each year, has more than 1,000 masters and has written 16 different skills and ethics booklets for varying environments.

1990
NOLS Sea Kayak Instructor Notebook, by Tim Conlan, is published by NOLS.

The Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) is founded by Buck Tilton and Melissa Gray in Pitkin, Colorado.

Kenneth B. Noack named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

January 12 - April 1, 1990
The first Patagonia Semester operates in Chile. This is the first NOLS branch formed since the 1974 founding of the Kenya branch.

  1980s

May 20, 1989
The new Wyoming branch is dedicated. Now called NOLS Rocky Mountain.

March 24, 1989
Exxon "Valdez" oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The sullying of one of NOLS' most pristine classrooms reinforces the NOLS commitment for taking a leadership role in preserving quality wild lands.

1988
Soft Paths, by Bruce Hampton and David Cole, is published by NOLS.

J. Thomas Sharp named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

January 7 - 24, 1987
The first Winter Outdoor Educator's Course is run .

March 1986
Computers are installed in the NOLS international administrative offices at the Noble Hotel in Lander.

1986
First NOLS alumni reunions are held in five United States cities.

William B. Morrish named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

1985
Wilderness Guide, by Mark Harvey, is published by NOLS.

Spring 1985
First whitewater section on a semester course at the Wyoming branch.

1984
Instructor Development Fund is established to help instructors continue developing their leadership and outdoor skills.

Spring 1984
First Mexico semester course.

March 1, 1984
Jim Ratz is named executive director.

1983
The NOLS Wilderness Guide is published.

Charles R. Gregg named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

August 13, 1983
The present Alaska headquarters in Palmer is dedicated.

May 10, 1983
Peter Simer resigns as the executive director.

1981
Homer L. Luther Jr. named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

January 4, 1981
First NOLS Wilderness First Responder course is taught.

1980
Perry Vandeventer named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees

 

December 1980
Joan Chitiea becomes the first woman elected to NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

July 1980
University of Utah and NOLS form a partnership to offer students college credit.

 

  1970s

1979
James Halfpenney named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

 

1978
The Washington branch headquarters moves from Bellevue to Sedro Woolley.

1976
First NOLS Kenya semester course is run.

December 4, 1975
Peter Simer is named executive director of NOLS.

August 1975
NOLS Instructor's Association (NIA) formed in response to Paul's departure from NOLS.

July 1975
Jon Hamren steps in as NOLS executive director temporarily.

 

June 23 - July 14, 1975
The first outdoor educator's course is held in the Wind River Mountains.

July 14, 1975
Petzoldt is removed as executive director and named senior advisor.

Summer 1975
The first NOLS Alaska semester course is held.

1974
NOLS is the first in the outdoor industry to run a semester length outdoor education expedition.

June 15 - August 20, 1974
The first NOLS course in Kenya goes into the field. Paul Petzoldt, and Mike and Jill Williams scouted out areas both in Mozambique and Kenya in 1973.

May 1974
The Wilderness Handbook written by Paul Petzoldt is published. This was the first NOLS publication for national distribution.

 

March 1974
First edition of the NOLS Cookery, edited by Nancy Pallister, with illustrations by Beverly Holsapple, is published. This was the first NOLS publication for public distribution.

May 24, 1973
The Noble Hotel is purchased.

1972
NOLS East closes.

Scab Creek (Three Peaks Ranch) near Boulder, Wyoming is purchased.

September 2, 1972
NOLS Tennessee closes.

1971
NOLS administrative offices were moved to 258 Main Street from the Sinks Canyon location after the purchase of the Nicholas Building in Lander.

NOLS Alaska started in Anchorage, by Tom and Dorothy Warren. Rob and Martha Hellyer and Bill Scott scouted the area.

John W. Walker named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

June 1971
NOLS Washington branch opens with the first North Cascades Mountaineering course. Dave Polito was the first director. The branch is now called NOLS Pacific Northwest.


June 1971
NOLS Washington branch opens with the first North Cascades Mountaineering course. Dave Polito was the first director. The branch is now called NOLS Pacific Northwest.

June 7, 1971
NOLS Tennessee opens with Haven Holsapple and R. Allen Robinson. The students learn canoeing, fishing, camping, cooking with the major focus on caving, cave biology and ecology.

March 13, 1971
The first course in Mexico begins at the current NOLS Mexico headquarters at Coyote Bay.

February 1971
The first issue of the NOLS newsletter, Alumnus, is printed.

Winter 1970 - 1971
NOLS Mexico in Baja California is started by Tap Tapley near Bahia de los Angeles.

1970
Course tuition increased from $400 to $450.

Fall 1970
NOLS field-tested Dacron 88. Thelma Yong designs a prototype sleeping bag using Dacron 88 instead of down.

June 1970
First NOLS Instructor course.

Summer 1970
NOLS East opens near Washington, Connecticut. Skills taught at NOLS East included canoeing, rock climbing, ecology, firearms instruction, preparation of small fowl and animals, use of chain saws, snow shoeing, winter travel and camping, cross-country skiing, and igloo and snow cave-building.

February 1970
Fremont Lumberyard on Lincoln Street was purchased for outfitting NOLS students.

January 20, 1970
Alcoa Hour presents "Thirty Days to Survival," an hour-long television show, which boosted NOLS enrollment.

  1960s

1969
Paul Petzoldt founded Outdoor Leadership Supply to design and manufacture equipment that was unavailable to purchase for NOLS courses. This company was later called Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment (PPWE) and also included a store and mail order department.

Summer 1969
Michael Wadleigh, Charles Grosbeck and Fred Underhill filmed an entire 30-day course. The film was shown on the Alco Hour and titled "Thirty Days to Survival." Michael and Fred went on to film Woodstock after completion of the NOLS film.

Summer 1967
The first NOLS course for 13-15 year old boys, the primary course at first, later called the Adventure Course.

June 1966
The first women were enrolled on NOLS courses. College credit was available for students.

Thelma Young hired as a seamstress to make equipment and clothing that was not available commercially: tents,wind shirts,dacron booties etc... Thelma was the longest tenured employee at NOLS. She worked until her death in the fall of 1999. One of her equipment tricks in the early days was to take two sweaters and make them into one long sweater that extended to the knees for added warmth (double sweater).

1965
Edward J. Breece named Chairman of NOLS Board of Trustees.

June 8, 1965
Food and equipment for the first NOLS course are issued from the Sinks Canyon headquarters. The all-male enrollment for the first summer, which consisted of three courses, was approximately 100 students.

During the first five years, courses could consist of up to 100 students under the leadership of one course leader, usually Paul Petzoldt. The students divided into patrols of a dozen or so students under the direction of a patrol leader and an instructor. These groups traveled separately, rejoining for re-rations. This is where the terms course leader and patrol leader originated.

Backpacks were the three-bag system, which were zip bags lashed to a JanSport frame. No cotton was allowed at all on any course. Wool pants were standard issue, along with the customized double sweater.

March 23, 1965
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is founded in Lander, Wyoming. It first operated out of a building in Sinks Canyon, which is now the Sinks Canyon State Park Headquarters.

 
The original NOLS headquarters located in the mountains outside of Lander, Wyoming.
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