January 2013

After nine days filled with sun, rain, snow, and cold, 17 new Wilderness First Responders departed Virginia Tech as champions!  I know I speak for my esteemed co-instructors, Laura Bonner and Scott Lipscomb, when I say it was an amazing course and that I am proud of all our students.  They braved cold cold rain early in the course -- only to have things ratcheted up a notch on day 6 by nine inches of snow!
While practicing the best prevention we could against cold illness and local cold injuries, students braved the conditions, day and night, and showed us that they were ready to save lives!
We were ecstatic to have several awesome Virginia Tech Venture Out staff members, as well as a few more Tech students.  We had four ladies who drove down from Roanoke each day to make sure Hollins University was well represented, too. The beautiful Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech served as a great site for the students. Thanks for Virginia Tech and Venture Out for being an outstanding sponsor and host.
As always, thank you to all the students for working so hard to master the way of the WFR.  Good luck to those of you starting back to class for the spring.  And to everyone: keep in touch, champions!

Eli Helbert and Kevin Williams just wrapped up a successful Wilderness First Responder at Brevard College. We definitely had some of the most consistent rain of any WFR In memory. Our students did an excellent job at adjusting to the elements and are ready to help serve their communities. Here is a group photo with dry erase portraits of Kevin Williams from an appreciative class.

"The water quality of Cane Creek met federal standards for surface and recreational use in a recent stream study carried out by Western Carolina University students working collaboratively with the Jackson County Health Department" ,according to the Reported newspaper at Western Carolina University. Read the entire article here.

WCU student Cristina Miranda uses a probe to locate an onsite wastewater system. At left is student Lauren Piemonte and at right is Russell Jenkins from the Jackson County Health Department.

As reported back in Jaime Dellinger, Supervisor or the Environmental Health section in Jackson County Health Department and Tonya Howell (WCU geology alumnae) wanted to coordinate a project that would beneficial to the community and support WCU student development. Landmark Learning agreed that the students could access creek frontage on Landmark property as well as Landmark septic systems to assess Cane Creek. Environmental Health specialists from the Health Department included Tonya Howell, Jonathan Fouts (WCU ENVH alumni), David Ammons and Russell Jenkins. Students broke up into groups to work with members of the health department to determine location of onsite wastewater systems, look for any instances of straight piping (sewage or gray water) directly into creek, and also to take water samples to assess chemical parameters. WCU students are in the process of analyzing results with report and presentations complete the first week of December 2012. Landmark Learning regularly shares it's 40 acre steward forest with science students as a resource in their educational programs. We are proud to support our external community of learners and thrilled with the water testing results!

Week one on the Landmark EMT Intensive explodes with a fired up group of students soaking in this new curious world of street medicine. This first week concluded with a field trip to Buncombe County Rescue Squad where students were able to have hands-on experience with EMS ambulance equipment. The Buncombe County Rescue Squad opened their newly purchased ambulance and equipment to our students to explore.

We were allowed to pull off equipment and practiced using it with the intent of assisting EMS crews when riding with EMS during clinical rotations. Those rotations were starting this same day for some. With deep gratitude we thank you Buncombe County Rescue Squad for opening your doors to us. Our students found it a great beginning in preparation for their clinical experience. Thank you everyone for a great week one!

Hey folks! It's sad but true, "WFR Camp" has come to and end and all twenty-two of us have scattered, by today, from the East Coast to the West Coast (California) and many places in-between. Jason & I want to thank all the students for coming together and working hard for an intensive 9-day Wilderness First Responder course in Asheville, NC.

Yall were awesome! We had college roommates from UNC-Asheville, two family sets of students (a mother/son team and a father/daughter team), high school seniors, international guides/educators, a nursing student and a very special birthday girl! Several students expressed that this WFR changed their prospective on their potential career path with a couple looking seriously at coming back for Landmark Learning's Semester Program, including the WEMT course.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors! Remember to always crack the Can of Calm, drop the hammer and go big! I want to say a special thanks to this group of students for sending me off to grad school with one final, super fun WFR course! I might sneak back in to the outdoor classroom occasionally during grad school, but I'm pretty sure I won't get to teach another WFR for a few years. It was a blast pulling my last one out right up to the day before grad school started. In fact, several of my co-students, asked how the course finished up and if everyone passed - I was was pleased to say that all of you passed with flying colors!! Keep up the good work and stay in touch!

- Jon Lowrance


Team Landmark Learning member Justin Padgett competed in the 2013 8th Annual "Cullowhee Run In 5K" and took 2nd place in the mens (40-50) and 13th over all. We were surprised of the turn out with over 100 racers, air temperatures just above freezing and heavy rain. This is a fun race with many folks returning each year, it seems more like a "runner reunion". My favorite part of this race has to be the number of folks who joke around and "talk junk" as we race. Way to get the year going for Team Landmark Learning!


 Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and WFR Recertification courses Landmark Learning will host at Blowing Rock Conference center.  Registration for these courses is through the Landmark Learning office.


The Wilderness Mission Alpine Youth Hostel (WMAYH) hosted a NOLS Wilderness First Responder course 14-22 December 2012 at their base near Windham, New York. Landmark Learning worked closely with course host Tom Borman and his family to establish the course site at WMAYH and everyone’s efforts proved to be very fruitful! Instructors Deane Hodde and Jon Lowrance traveled up to lead the first course run at WMAYH and were joined by 22 eclectic and highly motivated students for what would turn out to be an amazing WFR course! WMAYH was awesome! Tom and Mr & Mrs B worked tirelessly to provide breakfast and lunch each day and to make sure the students and instructors had everything they needed for a successful course.

The base is fantastic with a huge classroom/dinning room, rec room and dorms on a gently sloped ridge overlooking a wide valley. The base sits on about 250 acres of land filled with creeks, forest, fields and trails that borders the Catskills and is about a 15 minute drive from the ski resort town of Windham; it’s a perfect place for an extended wilderness medicine training!

The students were awesome!!! Deane and Jon were blown away at their motivation to master the skills and knowledge. We knew when every student was seated and ready 10 minutes before the start time on day one that we had a good crew! Throughout the week they worked hard, studied and practiced to secure for themselves a knowledge and skills base that will hopefully serve them for years to come. The stories and lives of the students are really too amazing and numerous to mention in a short blog post.

We had recent college grads, Hurricane Sandy survivors/relief workers, law enforcement professionals, wildlife ecologists, educators, outdoor guides & enthusiasts, a Peace Corps - Zambia volunteer and others. Deane & Jon want to express their extreme gratitude for our course hosts and students for making this WFR course really, really enjoyable! Hope to see you all again in future courses or life adventures!! Check out the Wilderness Mission Alpine Youth Hostel’s facebook page for more photos & stories as well as some pretty cool mug shots/bios of each student & instructor on course by going to  www.facebook.com/WildernessMissionAlpineYouthHostel.

Congratulations to our latest Beckwith-Taylor Scholarship recipients Thomas Payne and Clint Perkins IV! The Beckwith-Taylor Scholarship is awarded in memory of Jerry Beckwith and Don Taylor who contributed to the early development of Landmark Learning's direction and philosophy. This Scholarship is awarded to five candidates each year who show a commitment to developing themselves as outstanding risk management leaders in their outdoor community. The following are comments from our December Beckwith-Taylor Scholarship recipients:

Thomas Payne reflects: “I have really enjoyed my experience while being here at the Landmark Learning Base. Everyone in the course has been great to work with and super nice. Class time has been filled with challenging hands on training without boring busy work. The instructors keep you involved, are great at keeping students alert, and have the knowledge to answer any questions that students may have. I believe this course will steer me in the right direction for the career I choose in the outdoor industry. It has also shown me a new way of thinking about how to care for others. I am planning now to become an EMT and join my local Volunteer Fire Department. While I am still in undergraduate school, my WFR will help me out when I lead backpacking trips. I am confident that I will feel more prepared now, should an emergency arise while I am in the outdoors.”