From the CompanyOutside editors excerpted this information from the Employer Questionnaire submitted to the Best Companies Group.
A nonprofit educational organization, NOLS takes people of all ages on real wilderness expeditions to develop leadership, outdoor skills, and environmental ethics. Our graduates have the skills and experience necessary to take others comfortably and responsibly into the backcountry, and to lead competently in the front country. With courses ranging from two weeks to 135 days in length, we teach in the most awe-inspiring wilderness in the world.
Nearly every employee is a NOLS graduate having done a course prior to employment or participating on a course after starting his or her career with the school. This common experience and the educational underpinnings of skills, leadership and environmental ethics drive the NOLS mission and values deeply into every facet of the organization. These idealistic young NOLS employees do work that really matters and learn from experience as they did on their NOLS course. Video production, logistics, and publications are just a few of the many areas at NOLS that rely on newly minted NOLS grads fresh off a NOLS internship in leadership roles.
Employees can schedule their work day such that they can take longer lunch hours to go for a run, bike ride, ski, climb, etc., or come in to work early and leave early to be able to get in a workout.
Employees volunteer on the ambulance, SAR, fire department and in their local schools. Recently, employees worked on a home for Habitat for Humanity and had a full paid day to do so.
Internal policy drives the use of recycled paper for both administrative use and for publications. Our school-wide sustainability initiative sets aggressive goals for reducing our environmental footprint. Supported by our five-year strategic plan, our climate protection goals call for 20-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2010, 30 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. The initiative also establishes internal guidance that drives our actions related to water use, waste management, and procurement of everything from paper to electronics to outdoor gear. At our Rocky Mountain facility, close to 40 percent of electricity comes from solar power generated on site. In Tucson, solar energy powers the hot water in our shower facilities. Our Mexico school is off the grid. Our main office in Patagonia is heated with geo-thermal energy. Our Alaska school is powered in part by wind. Our Wyoming headquarters features techniques to maximize natural light and temperature control, including building orientation, sun shades, tinted glass, and a rooftop garden to minimize heat loss and gain. We chose to keep our headquarters in downtown Lander so many employees can walk or ride their bikes to work. We have bike racks outside and a bike storage place inside.
Formally, we give staff awards, typically two in-town, two faculty and two combination awards (plaque and $225 gift certificate) at our annual fall meeting. In addition, we give those faculty who reach the 400-field-weeks mark a Master in Outdoor Education award, including a pile vest with the words "Master in Outdoor Education" around the NOLS logo. When we exceed our financial goals for the year, employees receive gain-sharing checks.