NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Nevada Outdoor School: What's New At NOS- April Edition!

 Reno Motorsports Expo- Kaitlin


On March 28th through April 3rd, NOS members were able to attend the Reno Motorsports Expo in Reno, NV. The event was exciting and fun and NOS was able to reach out to community members of Reno and surrounding areas. At this event, we were able to explain Leave No Trace and the 5 Tread Lightly! Principles. We were able to do this with our large question wheel that participants got to spin, answer a question and get a prize! We also had the opportunity to explain our summer camps. At this event we were able to reach out to 401 people and explain what we do here at NOS and impact the participants of the Expo in a fun way!

Photo Caption: Nevada Outdoor School’s outreach booth at the Reno Motorsports Expo.

NDOW & NOS Spring Break LNT Camp- Meghan 


During the week of Elko County Spring Break, NOS partnered with NDOW to help with Wild Week. During the week there are different activities each day such as Hunters Ed, Archery, Biologist Day and more! For our day, we hosted a Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop. Participants learned all 7 Leave No Trace Principles, which are ways to be safe and responsible while recreating outdoors. The principles are taught through a series of fun and interactive games. A favorite was, “Save the Forest” where students learned the importance of putting out campfires and how firefighters help to prevent the spread of wildfires! 

Photo Caption: Participants learning the importance of putting out campfires through a fun game! 

April Full Moon Hike- Johnny


On the first full moon of April NOS hosted a nighttime hike to watch the full moon over Water Canyon and Southfork Meadows. In Winnemucca the snow was still present on the trail so the use of snowshoes became necessary to reach the end of the trail. During this event the participants got to experience snowshoeing as well as nighttime navigation. NOS puts on these hikes for the community so they can see what nature has to offer them as far as recreation and general well-being.

Photo: Winnemucca office on top of the lookout at Water Canyon

Homeschool Program- Johnny


With our lesson for the homeschool group, we had fun teaching them about compasses and counting paces. When the kids first got a hold of the compasses they learned how to sight their compasses to always keep the direction arrow ready and then they learned how to read coordinates. The kids at the homeschool group got to do a scavenger hunt and coordinates following to find pieces of a paper flower to build a picture for spring. Overall the students enjoyed learning about compasses, their uses, the history of them, and building the spring flower for their parents.

No photo available

Tahoe Truckee Earth Day- Jasmine


In April two AmeriCorps members went to the Tahoe Truckee Earth Day Festival. 

We had a booth that saw 434 people. At the event we educated people about the 7 Leave No Trace principles and how they can be applied to when they are outdoors exploring. We taught the principles through the Leave No Trace hang tags as well as educated people on how to choose actions that have a lesser impact when outdoors through our wheel of ethics. Overall this was a great event where we got to educate many people.

Photo Caption: AmeriCorps members at outreach booth

Ducks Unlimited Dinner- Noah


On April 15th one AmeriCorps member and one staff member went to the Ducks Unlimited dinner. We were able to reach out to parents and tell them about our upcoming summer camps and our other activities for the month. During the event the children were able to make and decorate reusable bags for Earth day and Leave No Trace hang tags. Overall the event was really fun and we were able to reach out to quite a few people who don't know what we do.

Photo Caption: Participants making Leave No Trace hangtags

Carlin Trout Release- Kaitlin


The Carlin trout release was on April 18th in Carlin, NV. At this event, NOS was able to teach students about erosion and prey vs. predator. We played games and talked about vegetation and how having a heavily vegetated area can help with areas that have erosion. We were also able to talk about the prey and predators of trout, such as bears for predators and bugs for prey. NOS was able to reach an awesome 4th grade class, and although we weren't able to release any trout, we were still able to learn and play. 

Photo Caption: Students at the Carlin Pond for Trout Release

Health and Wellness Carnival-Meghan


On the evening of April 20th, NOS was able to participate in the Level Up 4 Health School Carnival. This event was hosted at Flagview Intermediate Level Up 4 Health is a community initiative promoting health and wellness in children and teens. The booth NOS set up showed students and their families the importance of ATV safety with our NOS Toss game. Every student won a prize and left with more knowledge of ATV safety! 

Photo Caption: NOS booth at the Health and Wellness Carnival 

Minden Ride Safe Ride Smart Presentation with Renown- Melanie

April 20th, 2023 

Nevada Outdoor School traveled to Minden, Nevada with our Ride Safe Ride Smart OHV Safety program partnering with Jorge Montano, Renown Hospital’s Pediatric Injury Prevention Specialist, to do a presentation about OHV Safety Education to five Douglas High School Health classes and 130 students.  Jorge shared stories and photos of several Nevada youth that have suffered traumatic brain injuries from preventable accidents while not wearing head protection or helmets while recreating off road.  Mel from NOS engaged the students in conversations about positive and negative impacts with riding OHVs and the choices that can be made to positively impact themselves and the environment and limit negative impacts whenever possible.   

NOS’s Ride Safe Ride Smart Nevada program is really expanding and evolving with our renewed partnership with Renown, Tread Lightly and the NV Offroad Association.  Youth or adults can take an online OHV Safety Course by visiting and use the coupon code NOSRS2 to complete the course for free.  Hands on OHV Safety Courses and Ride Safe Ride Smart school-based curriculum can be brought to your community.  Just reach out to!

Triple R Party- Meghan


On the afternoon of April 21st, the day before Earth Day, members of the Elko community came together to create Earth Day bags and learn about trash decomposition. We started with our trash timeline game, where participants guessed how long some of our everyday trash takes to decompose. Some items were pretty surprising, for example, did you know fishing line can take up to 600 years to decompose! Next, every participant was able to decorate their very own Earth Day bag to be used for picking up or storing trash. 

Photo Caption: Participants create their Earth Day bags. 

Great Basin Greatness-Noah


On April 27th all of the current AmeriCorps members went to Grass Valley Elementary to put on the “Great Basin Greatness” event hosted by the Grass Valley PTA. At the event we showcased several types of lessons/ programs that NOS provides such as our elk trunk, Leave No Trace, animal skins, skulls, and tracks, and Ride Safe, Ride Smart sample program. We were also able to educate the families about the actual content in our programs and inspire the kids to think about animals and some of the ways we can affect them. In addition we had a general information booth all about our upcoming summer programs we have to offer this year as well!

Photo caption: I hand out sticker prizes to participants after they answered an RS2 question.

Zero Suicides Event- Kaitlin


On April 29th, we were able to attend the Zero Suicides Elko event at the Elko Convention Center. At this event, NOS as well as many others had booths for participants to look at and learn about. At this event, there were multiple guest speakers for the vendors and the public. They talked about mental health and suicide awareness. We feel so lucky to have been able to participate in this event and help support mental health awareness. At NOS, all members are trained in safeTALK and suicide awareness. NOS is a supporter of mental health awareness and helping people get outdoors to aid mental illness.

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Olivia Cameron: Conservation and Volunteer Coordinator with Friends of the Black Rock- High Rock

Where are you from and what’s your background? 

I am from a small Amish town an hour northwest of Philadelphia. Though I grew up in an agricultural community, it wasn’t until my 2021 Vineyard and Bee-keeping internship that my interest and passion for the environment solidified itself. From that point onward I have been traveling the US in search of more opportunities to learn about, and care for, our planet. 

How did you learn about the AmeriCorps program? What made you interested in the position and why did you choose to apply? 

    A friend of mine with experience in blending learning and travel suggested looking into AmeriCorps for opportunities in seasonal conservation work. While searching for positions with an emphasis on environmental education and stewardship. Surprised by the vast options I was presented with, I ended up applying for job opportunities all over the country. Nevada is where I landed 

How long have you been an AmeriCorps member?

I have completed around 1,300 hours of service with two different host sites. In March 2022 I started my 900-hour term with Friends of Black Rock, where I’ve had the opportunity to deeply explore various parts of the 1.2 million-acre National Conservation Area. After I completed my term with FBR I joined the Walker Basin Conservancy team for a 200-hour term. As a Restoration Team Member, I worked on native planting projects and invasive species removal. I started the position at the closing of the planting season, but our team was able to plant over 600 native plants in a short amount of time. On other days we trekked along the Walker River searching for the invasive Tamarisk, so that we may properly remove the plant to provide a more suitable habitat for native species. In 2023, I returned to Friends of Black Rock for a second 900-hour term. Yay! 

In your own words, what is AmeriCorps? 

AmeriCorps is an opportunity to better yourself, your community, and the world around you. I feel the work I do really matters, which is important to me and makes me feel good. As a member of AmeriCorps, not only do you make an impact during your term, but you also get the opportunity to continue doing what you love after you leave the program. With your new experience and educational award you can look for new opportunities in the things that interest you the most! 

What impact has being an AmeriCorps member had on you personally?

Before joining the AmeriCorps program I was unsure of what path I wanted to take in life. I was in a community college with an undeclared major but knew I wanted to study something related to the environment. AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to work in the field I knew I was interested in. The hands-on experience helped me determine what I enjoyed most and what I wanted to invest my time learning about. As a result, I will be returning to school this upcoming winter to study Natural Resources and Ecological Restoration. 

What impact has being an AmeriCorps member had on your community?

At Friends of Black Rock one of our goals is to keep our community and the surrounding area in its natural pristine condition. We go to tourist ‘hot spots’ around the area, like popular hot springs, and do restoration work. We host nature walks to Fly Geyser which brings around 50 people a week into our small, rural, Nevadan town. We educate people on the vast and incredibly interesting history that the Black Rock NCA holds. We advocate for best practices like those outlined by Leave No Trace so those recreating in the area can minimize their impact on the land and all its creatures. 

What’s your favorite memory or experience (so far) as an AmeriCorps member?

Doing an environmental-based AmeriCorps program has given me the opportunity to truly coexist within nature, something I am very thankful for. Growing up on the East Coast made me unfamiliar with such vast and wild spaces I wasn’t even aware existed. With FBR we host conservation campouts that are a 3.5-hour drive into the middle of nowhere. Getting to camp and giving back to our planet is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Destination Recreation: The Golden Gate Bridge by Jasmine Burnett

 The Golden Gate Bridge 

By Jasmine Burnett

The Golden Gate Bridge makes a fun short trip if you are looking for something to do and get outdoors. The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspended bridge that was built in 1993. To drive across the bridge there is a toll of about $10 for a two-axle vehicle and increasing in price depending on how large of a vehicle you have. 

In the parking area there are bathrooms available. There are also some signs about the history of the area and bridge. If you enjoy picnics there are sitting areas perfect for eating at.

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge gives you a great view of the San Francisco Bay area. The walk across is about 1.7 miles one way and takes about 35 minutes to walk. You also have the option to bicycle across the bridge. From the bridge, you can see the Ocean, the city of San Francisco, and the old prison building Alcatraz.

If you choose to go to the Golden Gate Bridge there are a few things that you might want to bring and plan ahead for. You should have good walking shoes and it is 1.7 miles one way. You should bring plenty of drinking water as it is typically warm in the area. There are a lot of photo opportunities so you will most likely want a camera. One thing to check on before going is if the bridge is under any construction as if parts of the bridge may be closed. If you have sensitivity to loud noises you may want to wear earplugs as there are lots of motorized vehicles passing along the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge attracts lots of people, on average there are about 88,716 visitors per day. There are ways we can reduce our impacts and help keep this area clean and available to future visitors. One way is that with many people there is a lot of trash produced so we should make an effort to use designated trash cans when visiting. Another way we can minimize our impact is by keeping pets on a leash. 

I hope this information helps you enjoy your trip to the golden gate bridge as much as I did! Remember when spending time outdoors you make choice actions that have a positive impact.


Monday, May 1, 2023

Step Outside and Let Nature Do the Talking

Are you feeling tired, stressed, or just a little bit cooped up? It's time to take a break and step outside. Nevada is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and the benefits of spending time outside are truly endless. From fresh air to stress relief, the great outdoors has got you covered. So, let's take a closer look at why you should make spending time outdoors a top priority.

There's nothing like a breath of fresh air. And in Northern Nevada, we've got some of the freshest air in the country. Thanks to our high elevation and low humidity, our air is pristine and clean, perfect for filling up your lungs and energizing your body. Plus, getting some fresh air can be a real mood booster, especially if you've been stuck inside all day. So why not step outside and let the fresh air work its magic?

But it's not just the air that's good for you. Spending time outdoors is a natural stress reliever. When you're surrounded by nature, you can't help but feel a little bit more grounded and connected to the world around you. Plus, research has shown that spending time in green spaces can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making you feel more relaxed and at ease. So if you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, take a break and head outside. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel.

And let's not forget about the physical benefits of spending time outdoors. Whether you're hiking, biking, or simply taking a walk, getting some exercise in nature can do wonders for your body. Not only does it help you burn calories and build strength, but it can also boost your immune system and improve your cardiovascular health. And in Northern Nevada, we've got plenty of opportunities to get active. From the stunning peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the rolling hills of the Great Basin, there's no shortage of outdoor recreation options to explore.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of spending time outside is the opportunity to disconnect from the constant noise and distractions of modern life. In nature, you can truly unplug and let your mind wander. Whether you're gazing at a mountain vista, watching a bird soar overhead, or simply feeling the sun on your face, there's a sense of peace and calm that comes with being in the great outdoors. So why not take a break from your phone, your laptop, and all the other screens in your life, and let nature do the talking?

Of course, we can't talk about the benefits of spending time outdoors without mentioning the sheer joy and wonder that comes with exploring the natural world. From the tiny wildflowers that dot the desert landscape to the majestic elk that roam our forests, Northern Nevada is home to some truly amazing sights and sounds. And let's face it, sometimes you just need a little bit of whimsy in your life. So go ahead and take that sunset hike, build that snowman, or splash in that stream. Let your inner child run wild and savor all the simple pleasures that nature has to offer.

Spending time outdoors in Northern Nevada is one of the best things you can do for your health, happiness, and wellbeing. With fresh air, stress relief, physical activity, and so much more, the great outdoors has got everything you need to live your best life. So the next time you're feeling down or cooped up, step outside and let nature do the rest, it’s good for everyone!

Friday, April 21, 2023

AmeriCorps Spotlight - Kaitlin Phipps (Outdoor Educator for Nevada Outdoor School)

 Hello, my name is Kaitlin Phipps and I’m an Outdoor educator for Nevada Outdoor School in Elko, Nevada! I’m originally from Washington State but moved to Elko when I was young. Currently, I’m attending college for Elementary Education and hope to continue on that path when I move in August! 

I found out about AmeriCorps by finding my host site first. I was incredibly interested because it had so many benefits and amazing opportunities for me currently and in the future. I loved Nevada Outdoor School and wanted to learn more and expand my knowledge and experience so I decided that I definitely wanted to apply! I’ve been an AmeriCorps member for 10 months and I absolutely love it! AmeriCorps is such an incredible service to be participating in and has given me amazing opportunities. It has helped me find my passion and wonderful people. AmeriCorps is a program that’s helped shape me and truly expanded my horizons in life. It’s so important to the people serving, as well as the people who are involved in other ways such as students who were able to teach! I’ve been able to not only teach in schools and classrooms all over Northern Nevada but I’ve also been able to reach so many people in the community! By hikes and lessons outside to, in-office work. It has impacted everyone around me as well as myself. 

My favorite part of being an AmeriCorps member is all of the amazing students I’ve been able to teach and help in my community. I love that students are able to recognize me outside of the classroom when I serve at different events, and they’re able to tell me things they’ve learned. 

I think that AmeriCorps is a wonderful and truly positive and powerful experience that I think more people should be involved in. It has helped me grow and learn so much and I’m so thankful for it. I would really love to continue with AmeriCorps in the future either serving or attending events at different host sites. I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me so far in my journey with the AmeriCorps program. 


Friday, April 14, 2023

Destination Recreation: Valley of Fire State Park


View on Map!

Breathtaking views, scenic drives and hikes, cool wildlife, and a stunning array of colors, Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada is well worth the trip!

Located about 1 hour northeast of Las Vegas, near the town of Overton, Valley of Fire State Park is a great place for a day trip or an overnight adventure.  Many of the park’s stunning features are easily viewed from the car but don’t be fooled, there’s much more to discover on the trails.

Valley of Fire gets its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago.  Red isn’t the only color you see though, whites, pinks and yellows blend together to create a beautiful rainbow landscape. 

When visiting Valley of Fire State Park, I would recommend making the visitor center, located near the center of the park and open from 8:30am-4:30pm daily your first stop.  At the visitor center you can pick up a helpful map and visitor guide, learn about the park’s history, plants and animals, see some of the cool wildlife up close, look around their small gift shop and talk to someone at the help desk if needed.  Don’t forget to fill up your water bottles and also take the small hike out back up to an impressive sight!

Valley of Fire State Park can be done pretty easily as a day trip – a lot of the notable features including Elephant rock, the arch and Fire Canyon can be viewed from the road and most of the main trails are only about 1 mile long, making it possible to hike multiple trails in 1 day.  However, you could spend many days in the park and still not get bored, there is so much to see! It’s super important to practice Leave No Trace and plan ahead and prepare for your visit.  Fall, winter and early spring are good times to go if you plan to get out and hike as temperatures in the summer months usually exceed 100 degrees, making it dangerous to be outside for too long.  Proper footwear is also important as desert plants can be quite poky and many of the trails are located in desert washes making them extremely sandy (not fun if you are wearing tennis shoes). 

The Fire Wave is another notable feature in the park which can be accessed on the Fire Wave trail which is only 1.5 miles, but don’t be fooled though - lack of shade and extreme temperatures in the summer can make this trail extremely dangerous.

My favorite trail in the park is White Domes, located at the end of the road going north out of the visitor’s center.  This trail is about 1.25 miles long and takes you through an old movie sight and super cool slot canyon.  Another one of my favorite places in the park is the Rainbow Vista trail.  The trail itself is cool but the overlook view at the end which gives the trail its name is amazing!  Ancient Indian artwork can be found all around the park, but taking a quick hike down the Mouse Tank trail is definitely one of the best ways to see a lot all together.  It’s fun trying to “read” the petroglyphs left by the ancient people.  Other cool features in the park include massive petrified wood logs, crypobiotic soil, and tons of desert wildlife including lizards, tarantulas, and big horn sheep.

Camping at Valley of Fire is a unique experience that I definitely recommend.  If you are going with a big group and are up for planning your trip WAY in advance, you can call and try to reserve one of the three big group use sights which are AMAZING!  They book up pretty fast though and are hard to get especially on the weekends.  Don’t stress though, the park has 2 other first-come campsites with 72 units and additional RV spots that are also really cool to stay at. 

So, whether you are just going for the day or staying for a while, Valley of Fire State Park is definitely worth the trip!


Happy Trails!