NOLS Anniversary | 55 Years of Wilderness Education Video

55 Years of Wilderness Education

We’re celebrating—two times over!

2020 marks the 55th anniversary of the founding of NOLS and the 30th anniversary of NOLS Wilderness Medicine. And in 2020, a NOLS education remains more relevant than ever.

Our Community’s Impact

NOLS alumni put their skills into action


Founded in 1965...

In 1965, the world was a tumultuous place, with massive social change happening at a breakneck pace. 

In this atmosphere of chaos and youth-powered upheaval, a charismatic mountaineer founded the National Outdoor Leadership School. In a small cabin in the mountains near Lander, Wyoming, Paul Petzoldt set out to nurture leaders who knew how to live responsibly in the wilderness and could teach others how to do the same.

Now, as we teach students on mountaintops and on water, in canyons and in classrooms, we celebrate the grit and passion that made NOLS the leader in outdoor education for the last 55 years.

Read More NOLS History

Ways To Celebrate

Stay Connected & Share the Love!

Three participants move tumbleweed in a NOLS Earth Day clean-up in Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander, WY.

Give Your Time

Volunteer with a local Search and Rescue group, take a kid outdoors, engage on local issues of sustainability, and check on your neighbors during significant weather events.
A student with a face mask on raises their hand in a classroom.

Keep Learning

Explore resources from NOLS to continue your wilderness education.

Join NOLSie Alumni Groups

Share stories and keep your connection to your course alive through online and in-person alumni events, Facebook groups, and more.
The Leader magazine laying open to a page on alumni profiles.

Share Your Story

Send us your stories about your course or how your skills have grown since then—we want to hear and share them with the community!

Stories from the Blog

Wilderness Medicine Institute employees posing for a group photo outside on a wooden staircase during the winter.

30 Years Of Wilderness Medicine

NOLS | November 13, 2020

In 1990, two people started a business that was remarkable for 2 reasons—most important because the business was dedicated to teaching wilderness medicine. Read on and celebrate NOLS' anniversary with 30 years of wilderness medicine history.

Two students us a hypowrap to treat a patient with hypothermia during a NOLS Wilderness Medicine scenario.

NOLS is not just a culture but a mindset preparing you to step in and act. To care for others with no relation to yourself. To prepare with respect to the craft. To practice as a member of your community.

Geena Ramirez Wilderness EMT