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Mentorship Program 

The NIA Mentorship Program connects NOLS employees to their more senior peers, to seek advice not only in navigating NOLS staffing and career opportunities, but also in shaping their direction at the school and reaching their desired balance of work at NOLS and beyond.

How it Works

You’ll have a one-on-one relationship with a senior instructor or administrator. It could take the form of in-person meet-ups, phone or video calls, or email communications.

Areas for Mentorship

You’ll have freedom to design this with your mentor. Here are some ideas:

  • Processing feedback

  • Understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities at NOLS

  • Navigating the field staffing process

  • Advancing your career at NOLS

  • Balancing multiple jobs

  • Transitioning to careers outside of NOLS

  • Connecting with other international employees for firsthand advice

  • Processing a near-miss or incident

How to Apply

Take a few moments to read their bios and consider what style of mentorship is the best fit for you. Email our mentorship coordinator, Marissa Bieger, at marissa_bieger@nols.edu, with your preference(s) for a mentor and preferred method of communication.

How to Connect

Marissa will connect you with your mentor by email to arrange logistics for your first meeting. You’ll arrange meetings with your mentor as needed, with at least one meeting per season.

Feedback and Support

Marissa will check in with you periodically by email for feedback on your experience with the program, and to ask if you need additional support from the NIA or NOLS. Feel free to reach out to her any time for additional support.


Contact the NIA's Mentorship Coordinator, Marissa Bieger, at marissa_bieger@nols.edu.

Want to be a mentor? Read more about the program here.

Available Mentors: Current Employees

Ngaire Beckett

When Ngaire originally came to the school in 2013, she thought the instructor course would be good professional development. Given her age and skill base at the time she didn't think she had what it took to instruct for the school. Since this time, Ngaire has been full-time in the field across New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the Rocky Mountain, working backpacking, mountaineering and climbing courses. Recently she stepped out of her comfort zone into Program Supervising and has been taking these learnings back into the field. Please feel free to reach out to her to talk about anything: finding your path as a new instructor, games, ideas, or progressions for the field, personal growth and processing feedback, programs to diversify work, and making connections and networks at NOLS.

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: In-person where possible (often at the RM) and otherwise phone or video. Open to short-term or long-term mentorship. 

Suza Bedient

Suza started working at NOLS in 1992. Since then she has accrued more than 300 weeks in the field: backpacking and Drascombe sailing. She loves whitewater and has also taken a number of trainings, but it remains a passion rather than a work skill. She has worked in the field for NOLS Rocky Mountain, Teton Valley, Alaska, India, Kenya, Mexico, and the Yukon, as well as the admin roles of Assistant Director for NOLS Australia and Mexico for two years each. Though technically talented, her real interests are in personal growth and transformation. She feels one of the most important learnings from NOLS is how the individual truly embeds in a community.

She has also worked for NOLS Custom Education, with Google, the National Parks, Archer, and Building Goodness Foundation. In her non-NOLS life, she is a body worker, movement specialist, a shaman, and a mentor for those seeking deeper experiences in their lives. She has a business, Tree of Life Mentoring, that helps people awaken to their deeper human potential by waking up their capacity to perceive.

Current role at NOLS: Mexico Assistant Director and Rocky Mountain Program Supervisor

Preferred style of mentorship: Comfortable with either in-person or online

Murilo Bellesi 

Senior NOLS faculty since 2008, outdoor educator since 2000, leadership coach, group facilitator, expedition leader. Murilo is a sea kayak, hike, canoe, and packraft instructor for NOLS. He has also worked for Outward Bound since 2004 and is an active ACA (American Canoe Association) Instructor Level 4 for open water sea kayaking and Level 3 surf kayaking. Murilo worked in the NOLS Amazon program from 2008 to 2013. He has been working at NOLS Patagonia since 2009. Murilo works most often at Patagonia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and other US locations.

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible, appreciates in-person conversations at shared NOLS locations

Andy Blair

Andy has worked for NOLS in a variety of capacities since 1992. He was primarily a field instructor through the 90's into the 00's and then a wilderness medicine instructor after 2001. There were stints with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and the Wyoming Outdoor Council sprinkled in this timeframe. He was once an Admissions Officer and a Program Supervisor. Now he works at the RM as the Assistant Director. He craves a return to field work. That is where the real magic happens.

Current role at NOLS: Administrator, occasional wilderness medicine instructor, seminar participant, NOLS parent

Preferred style of mentorship: In-person meet-ups in Lander

Mariana Candeia Mita

Mita is from Brazil and started her outdoor career with Outward Bound in Brazil in 2006. In 2009 she started working for NOLS, mainly climbing and hiking courses. Currently she also works mountaineering courses. This was a gradual process since she was born and raised in a completely opposite environment. She thinks we all enjoy doing new things and expanding our comfort zone and knowledge. She believes the role of the outdoor educator at NOLS goes far beyond leadership development. She completely loves the NOLS community and loves meeting people. She has worked mostly in Patagonia (rock climbing programs), Wyoming, and Alaska (mountaineering). She would be excited to talk about diversity, languages and landscapes (the inner ones and the outer ones). She is currently a master's student at The Wisdom School in Mill Valley, CA, focused on "Earth Wisdom and Primordial Mind", which includes ancient traditions, neuroscience and nature-based psychology.

Current role at NOLS: Summer seasonal Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Long-term relationship through online video communicationMita is available to work with English, Spanish, and Portuguese speakers. 

Ana Carolina Didyk Souza

Ana Carolina stared with NOLS in 2013 when she took the River Professional Instructor Course. In 2014, she started to develop her relationship with the school, primarily working in the river program at most locations in the US and India. Ana is specialized on all river crafts (oars, rafting, whitewater canoe and whitewater kayak), and has worked seminar, river IC and semester courses. She is happy to support new river ‘folks’ with advice, suggestions or anything that can be helpful as a new instructor, river related or not. Ana has since started to expand to work other course types, now learning a lot by working in the sea kayaking program in Alaska and Patagonia. Ana has over 160 weeks in the field.

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible and happy to mentor online

Sydney Hartsock

Sydney started teaching for NOLS in 2009, and since then has instructed a pretty even mix of backpacking, mountaineering and rock climbing. She has worked mostly out of NOLS Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain, with some time spent in Alaska and Patagonia. She has also worked in town in operations roles (Pacific Northwest) and as a Program Supervisor (Southwest and Rocky Mountain). Over the last five years, Sydney has balanced field work with grad school (an MBA) and then a job in business consulting. She's now working on a startup and finding more time to work for NOLS and take personal adventures again! Please reach out to Sydney to talk about anything. She's happy to be a listening ear and give guidance on any aspects of NOLS life that she can. She might be particularly helpful if you want to chat about: balancing NOLS with school or another career, finding your path as a new instructor, personal growth and processing feedback, being a woman at NOLS, and mountaineering.

Sydney is also a big believer that NOLS instructors have an incredible skillset to transfer outside of jobs in outdoor education - and that this skillset isn't always easy to explain to people outside of the NOLS world. If folks want help thinking about how to translate their skills into resumes and applications for other kinds of work adventures, she's happy to be a resource for that too.

Current Role: Field Instructor

Preferred Style of Mentorship: Flexible

Jerick Lee

Jerick was a NOLS student in the winter of 2016 on the Winter Outdoor Educator course. He started working in the field for NOLS that summer through the domestic Instructor in Training (IIT) program. The following summer he took the early season instructor course in the Winds and has been primarily working in the summer and fall seasons since then. He instructs in the hiking, climbing and winter programs and has worked primarily out of the RM in Lander. He has spent his last five winter/spring seasons working as an adaptive ski instructor in Breckenridge, CO. He is happy to chat about any and all facets of NOLS work with anyone (especially IITs!). This includes, but is not limited to, navigating a relationship with the FSO, work life balance, processing feedback, technical development and what the heck it means to be BIPOC (asian american) in the current era of the school. He dances to most types of music and will no longer eat NOLS sesame sticks. 

Current role: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible! Prefers meeting in person when possible but will happily video chat. 

Chrissie Oken

Chrissie is originally from North Carolina and first became involved with NOLS in 2008 after taking a semester in Patagonia. This created a strong and enduring belief in NOLS' mission and the NOLS community that has shaped her career post-college. She took her IC in 2012 out of the RM, and since then has worked as a backpacking, winter, and mountaineering instructor mainly out of Alaska and the Teton Valley. In the last four years, she has been balancing field work with program supervising at the TVB and Alaska. Chrissie has also worked in EMS, as a ski patroller, and most recently for the National Park Service. While many approaches to working for the school can result in a successful career, she has found for herself that diversifying work and training experiences outside of the school have made for a more balanced lifestyle.

Chrissie is excited to discuss all aspects of the NOLS experience, but may serve as a useful contact for those interested in the following: working in Alaska or in the winter program, navigating the avalanche world, mountaineering, and perspective on working as a female-identified person in male-dominant sectors.

Current role: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible

Maddie Player

Maddie started working for NOLS in 2015, and has worked mostly sea kayaking and some backpacking in Patagonia, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. Woodinville, WA is her home base. Her roots are in the friendly outdoor communities at the Whitman College Outdoor Program, YMCA Camp Orkila, and Sea Kayak Baja Mexico. She has also taken a number of A.C.A. and B.C.U. courses. She’s worked mostly as a full-time field instructor, and recently started program supervising. She loves the NOLS community and is excited to talk about anything ranging from how to prep better classes to equity and inclusion issues to working in Patagonia.  She also really likes writing lists.

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor and Patagonia Program Supervisor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible

Caio Poletti

Caio has been working for NOLS for the past 9 years, and has around 150 weeks in the field canoeing, sea kayaking, and hiking. He has program supervised at NOLS Northeast and NOLS Mexico. He has taught two sea kayak seminars and a number of Outdoor Educator Courses as well. He has enjoyed NIA since his first year as an Instructor and he is a lifetime member.

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor and Northeast Assistant Manager

Preferred style of mentorship: Open to short and long-term mentorship. Prefers to work with staff who work in Patagonia or the Northeast to allow for in-person conversations.

Maija Pukkila

Maija started teaching for NOLS in 2010, and has mostly done backpacking expeditions in Scandinavia and sea kayaking in Patagonia. At NOLS she recognizes herself as an introverted driver who has more passion for the wonder of the intertidal zone than learning a perfection of a technical skill. She's happy to give guidance in anything NOLS related; from practical issues international instructors might face to being a female instructor, or helping to get past constructive feedback.

Current role at NOLS: Scandinavia Program Manager, Patagonia Program Supervisor, and Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible

Fábio Raimo de Oliveira

Fabio started working for NOLS in 1998, mostly land based (hike, climb, mountain) and after sometime became amphibian (doing a bunch with the sea kayaking program and some whitewater canoeing). Over the years he has worked full time, taken a year off, worked in town, and worked at number of different branches. He's pretty familiar with the whole international scene and its relationship with NOLS. He feels he has succeeded in establishing a sustainable long-term work relationship with NOLS courses and the school. The branches he mostly works from these days are Patagonia and PNW. 

Current role at NOLS: Field Instructor

Preferred style of mentorship: "Reactive," responding to the requests of mentees

Available Mentors: Past Employees

Ted O'Callahan

Ted started working for the school in-town in 1993 and in the field in 1997. He has around 150 weeks in the field, but he hasn't worked a course in about five years. Ted currently works as a writer and editor and is interested in helping people who want to move into writing or editing work. The bulk of his work is for a magazine at the Yale School of Management. He also does some freelance adventure travel writing. He lives in Mount Washington, Massachusetts.

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible

Roger Yim

Roger started with the school in 1998. He worked ski, mountaineering, rock climbing, avalanche and whitewater courses. He is based out of Nelson, BC and works as a backcountry ski guide in the winters. He loves loud music, people, dancing and good food. He thinks that overall NOLS is an awesome place to work, but it can be challenging to navigate through the school. He would love to help out and talk to people. 

Preferred style of mentorship: Flexible

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