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!

Monday, April 17, 2017

ACA Leadership Conference

The NOS staff just returned from the southern desert of Palm Springs, California where they had the opportunity to attend the annual American Camp Association Leadership Conference. On the way down the team camped in Death Valley National Park where they were able to participate in team building activities while taking in the raw beauty of the area. For one of our new Americorps Members, Irma Mendoza, it was a new experience to travel through Death Valley and she says, “It was very meaningful to tour Death Valley and to have had the opportunity to camp there. It allowed me to really enjoy where I was and to explore what it had to offer, as well as inspiring me. I would suggest to keep including it in the trip.”
This year’s conference theme was Safari Chic and the NOS team showed up ready to wow in their attire. More importantly we showed up with open minds and hearts and were all able to attend various educational sessions that interested us or were out of our comfort zones. The sessions ranged from new activities to try at your camp to managing millennial staff. When not in sessions we were able to connect with other camps and learn about their organizations, successes and struggles. I personally found this to be very beneficial and almost healing to know that we are not all alone in our struggle to provide local youth with outdoor experiences.
Overall the general consensus for the NOS Educational Team is that the ACA Leadership Conference was absolutely amazing and it made our group connect on a higher level than we did before. Brody Goucher our Spring Americorps Member stated, “Not only would I recommend it but I would require it because it really helps give you ideas of how to become a better teacher and I think that everything from field trips to summer camps will be better because of the knowledge that I gained from ACA.”
As a team we plan to apply our new found motivation and knowledge to our everyday lives and all of our upcoming programming. It is a wonderful conference and I believe that everyone gained a lot of knowledge and confidence that is necessary as we go into our spring field trips and summer time programming. 

-Katy (NOS Education Coordinator)

Spring Means Watershed Field Trips!

Irma Mendoza (pictured here in her beautifully crafted "Thunder" costume) is one of our AmeriCorps Spring Naturalists at NOS.  We are very happy to have her part of the NOS team especially as we move into the always busy but super fun spring field trip season.

The 2nd grade Watershed Field Trip kicked off last week in Battle Mountain.  Throughout the rest of April and into May, our education team will be reaching hundreds of students in a variety of communities such as Winnemucca, Elko, Imlay, Spring Creek and Gerlach with this field experience.  

When asked about teaching these Watershed field trips, Irma said:

"Teaching kids is something I have always wanted to do. My ultimate goal is to become an educator, and be able to instill knowledge on younger minds and be able to influence them with bright ideas and lessons. I was presented the opportunity to lead a station for a field trip for second graders, at first I was nervous! I didn't think I would remember my material and I thought I would manage to somehow mess things up to a point where the kids would be left with a blank stare and no knowledge about watersheds in their heads.  Pushing my fears back, I was excited to plan and put together my station, keeping all of the materials in mind I made it my own and ran with what I was given. I allowed myself to be silly, and fun  I learned that the more you make it your own, the more the kids will enjoy it.  I plan on using more visuals, and making my watershed model activity more fun but overall I think that I did very well."

All of us here at NOS are looking forward to a great (and busy) field trip season this spring!

Being an AmeriCorps Spring Naturalist with NOS

Hiking up to the "W" on Winnemucca Mountain
In March, NOS welcomed three new AmeriCorps Spring Naturalists to our programming team; Brandolyn Thran in Elko and Irma Mendoza and Brody Goucher in Winnemucca!

AmeriCorps is a civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of "helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.

The Nevada Outdoor School AmeriCorps Program is a community development program that provides human resources to worthy non-profits, professional and life-skills training for community members, and collaborations for best practices which in turn increases the overall outreach of the non-profits and enables citizens to live more meaningful and independent lives.

At NOS, our AmeriCorps Naturalists teach inquiry-based, hands-on science lessons and field trips, run a variety of youth summer programs and camps, lead community hikes, and spread the message of responsible recreation through Leave No Trace, Tread Lightly! and ATV Safety lessons, camps, trainings and Road Shows.

At the start of their service, we asked our three new AmeriCorps the following four questions, and these were their responses:

1.) How did you become an AmeriCorps Naturalist for NOS, what made you interested in the position/why did you apply?

Irma - Growing up with NOS in the classroom, and in the community I was immediately interested when I saw the job listing, remembering all the hands on and fun activities they I had to offer I applied.  A close friend had also served their AmeriCorps term with NOS and had told me of their amazing experience I felt that it was an opportunity I definitely could not miss out on. 

Brody-  I became an AmeriCorps Naturalist because one of my friends took a job with them and when she explained how beneficial being an AmeriCorps member could be for my educational future, I had to give it a shot. I found the Facebook post and then called in and had an interview set up from there.

Brandolyn- After working 15 years as a microbiologist for the US Army I was ready for a major change and was investigating education-based opportunities.  While looking for non-profits in Nevada I happened upon NOS via the web and was immediately drawn to it since I have a passion for education, in particular science education, and the outdoors. It seemed that we were a "fit" and so I applied!

2.) If your opinion, why is the AmeriCorps program important?

Irma - AmeriCorps is important because it will give someone the experience of being able to serve their community, and it gives someone a goal to reach in the end which is not only many hours of service, but the education award afterwards.

Brody - AmeriCorps is a great program because it is vital for non for profits, it provides a way for them to get the help that they need without spending additional resources that are needed to function. AmeriCorps is also important for people like me who are trying to work full time and maintain 5 college classes at the same time, the education grant will relieve a lot of stress off my shoulders as far as my tuition goes.

Brandolyn - It's a great opportunity to serve our community and learn a ton in the process.

3.) So far, what has been for favorite thing about working at NOS?

Irma - NOS has given me the opportunity to practicing my teaching skills, which will be helpful when I’m working towards my teaching degree. As well as giving me skills, and training to work in the outdoors to be able to do it safely and responsibly, all while being able to enjoy what I do.

Brody- My favorite thing about working for NOS is the people that work here, they have been so helpful and patient with everything. I also love the fact that I get to tackle a different challenge every day and that this job allows me to get outside and talk to kids about responsible recreation and how we can truly leave no trace but still enjoy nature.

Brandolyn- I really appreciate the training that has been provided (Leave No Trace, Tread Lightly, and CPR) and working with the kiddos!  It's fun to be able to teach without being in the formal education system.

4.) What are you looking forward to most in your service?

Irma - Since staring out my term at NOS I have looked forward to all the wonderful activities I get to participate in, as well as the opportunity I get to serve the community in which I have grown up in, and have come to love. 

Brody - I am looking forward to our summer camps the most, they are going to be a blast and I think that we have come up with some great ideas this year and that the kids who come will find that our camps are a lot of fun and very educational.
Brandolyn- Meeting and interacting with lots of really cool kids!  I can't wait until the field trips and summer camps start!!!

We are super stoked to have Irma, Brody and Brandolyn part of the NOS team and look forward to all the great work we know they will do during their service!