Some of my subscribers have asked me what did I write in my application letter for the Wilderness Medicine Institute at NOLS. Below you can see some of the highlights of my cover letter.
I consider myself an eclectic outdoor educator. As you can see in my resume I have demonstrate proficiency in different field skills including: rockclimbing, backpacking, mountain biking, snow shoeing, sea kayaking, sailing, SCUBA, canoeing and challenge course management. My academic background is in Biology; which helps me understand and teach about human physiology as it related to wilderness medicine. Also, I have a Masters degree in Outdoor Pursuits Recreation Administration, which helps me achieve the WMI-NOLS goals due to my understanding of the outdoor pursuits. My native language is Spanish, but also I feel very comfortable with articulating myself in English. I have a doctoral degree in Education, with a concentration in curriculum and instruction from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Also, I have been teaching at the college level for the last ten years in the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Some of the courses I have taught are in outdoor recreation, wellness, health and the Education department’s Teacher Preparation program.
Because of my commitment and dedication to both education and outdoor experiences, I have held a variety of positions in well-renowned organizations and institutions. I have worked for different Outward Bound schools for the last several years, delivering adventure education programming and developing new courses like the Caribbean Semester course established in 2004. In addition, for the last three summers I have been working for Dartmouth College Outdoor Programs delivering experiential education programs to the undergraduate and graduate student population in their newly built challenge course. Last year, I was invited to be part of the AEE National Standards review team. This volunteer position allows me to serve AEE and to use my expertise in risk management in assessing other programs across the country. Most recently, I conducted the Thompson Island Outward Bound Annual Safety Review for their environmental program following the Outward Bound USA Safety Standards.
My wilderness patient care experience extends to being the EMT for 80 teenagers at Sail Caribbean for 70 days, lead first responder for Mead Wilderness Base, and medical officer for all my Outward Bound expeditions. Please refer to my attached Expedition Resume for detailed responsibilities and duties. Below, I will briefly describe chronologically my professional outdoor experiences, personal expeditions, one medical incident that I was involved as the first responder and my teaching experience in the outdoor and indoor classroom.
During the summers of 1989-92 I worked for Guajataka Scout Reservation doing canoeing, backpacking and rock climbing five days expeditions. All the expeditions were self-supported. Most of them took place in the rainforest and Guajataka Lake of Puerto Rico. During the summers of 1993-95 I worked for Mead Wilderness Base located in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire. At MWB I delivered backpacking expeditions in the Presidential Range of NH and rockclimbing experiences in Pawtuckaway, NH among other expedition elements(see resume). During the summer of 1997 I conducted scientific research on MonaIsland (http://welcome.topuertorico.org/city/mona.shtml). I was studying the population of the endemic Mona island iguana (see expedition resume). During the spring of 1997, I joined Encantos Ecotour in which I taught marine science and lead tourism trip. In addition I was in charge of running the southwest branch located in Copamarina Resort, Puerto Rico. In 1999, I started working for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School located in Maine. I worked for the Maine Sea program as well as the Florida Sea program as assitant instructor and instructor. The summers of 2000 and 2002 I worked for Sail Caribbean (http://www.sailcaribbean.com) in the BVI and the Leeward Islands. I worked as a captain and assistant program director (see resume). Also I delivered their advanced leadership program in the Windward Islands sailing a 50 foot boat unsupported for 18 days and then double-handed the delivery of the boat from Grenada to Antigua.
In 2001, I taught for HIOBS during the spring and summer seasons as an instructor for the Florida and Maine sea program. In 2003, 2004 and 2005 I instructed for Thompson Island Outward Bound in their sea program and I was invited to do the watch officer training in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Other instructing opportunities that I have had have been with the HooverOutdoorEducationalCenter in Yorkville, Illinois (see resume for more details). In addition, I developed and implemented a Leave No Trace workshop for Oak Brook Park District in Illinois as part of their Earth Day celebration. Also as part of the graduate student population in AuroraUniversity, I taught orienteering skills to undergraduate students as part of a 3-credit class during the fall semester of 2000. In 2003, I came back to my native land Puerto Rico and started an adventure based experiential education company. Aire Libre (www.airelibrepr.com) is the name of the company and we have delivered more than 400 programs so far, ranging from corporate teambuilding’s to week long leadership programs for youth in the Spanish Virgin Islands. We are committed to introducing Leave No Trace practices to the community of Puerto Rico as well as a new understanding and set of skills for the greater appreciation of the island. Also in 2003, I started lecturing at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. One of the courses I enjoyed the most was HPER 2220 Outdoor Recreation because of the balance between theory and practice that course presents and an opportunity to shape & build a thorough curriculum in a developing field for Puerto Rico.
As far as personal expeditions, I did several extended land trips in the rain forest of Puerto Rico with my college friends during the years of 1992-1996. Some of these trips include a 10-day backpacking trip from one end of the island to the other, several 3-day bush-whacking through the GuajatakaRiver and rafting with non-commercial watercraft in different shallow rivers of Puerto Rico. I have also sailed an O’Day 25’ sailboat many times on my own as part of the maintenance and care of the boat during my days working for Encantos Ecotour. I had a Hobbie 14 sailboat in which I took some solo overnight trips to different mangrove island in the south end of Puerto Rico. Some of these trips included night sailing as well as overnight camping. Also, I helped sail a Sabre 30’ sailboat from the Marathon, Fl, to the Bahamas and spent several days cruising with my friends in the Bahamas (see expedition resume). I have done some more personal hiking, rock climbing and camping trips (see expedition resume).
Lessons learned: Working for Mead Wilderness Base on a 5-day biking trip, the first day I had an incident. I briefed my students about safety and proper bike use before we all went down a steep hill. The co-instructor was at the end of the group while I was leading the group. Probably, five minutes after I started descending, I was hit by one of my students who had been hit by another one. In just a couple of seconds the three of us crashed into the ground. I called the student’s name that lost control first and he responded fine. Then I called out the other student and he did not respond. I approached him and found him unconscious with his helmet broken in half. I assessed the situation and offered the appropriate first aid. The ambulance came shortly and we all ended up at the hospital. I found out that I had a broken wrist at the hospital.
I hope this helps you create your own application letter for the WMI ITC!