Since 2004, NOLS and Girls, Inc. have worked together to offer Santa Fe teens an opportunity to participate in outdoor leadership programs. So far, 22 girls have received scholarships to fund NOLS courses of their choice, ranging from backpacking in the Adirondacks to sea kayaking in Alaska.
“Before she set off for two weeks backpacking in Idaho, Isabella Willard had never traveled alone—never been outside the state without her parents—much less hiked for two weeks through the mountains carrying everything she'd need on her back.
Willard, who is from Santa Clara Pueblo, was selected to attend a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course in 2017, an extension of outdoor programs run by Girls Inc. that readied her for this trip by car camping and taking long hikes over summers previous. She was just 15 years old when she boarded that plane on her own. While she still hikes often with her high school outdoors club and hopes to do more backpacking trips, she says, this trip ‘was an experience you can only experience once, and it's best the first time.’”