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Trail users… Read this!
Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

If you are planning to visit Crow Creek Pass this summer between the Eagle River Nature Center and Crow Creek Pass, you may find that part of the trail has been closed by the Chugach State Park due to Bear Encounters.

Chugach State Park Closes Trail to avoid further bear encounters

Learn to be Bear Aware

Learn important safety skills for wilderness travel and recreation from NAOI - Upcoming NAOI Events


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Girl Scout Summer Encampment 2013
Posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2013

On Friday, June 7th, the NAOI crew of Dorothy Adler, Debra McGhan, Shelley Plumb and Amber Allen headed over to the Alaska State Fair for a day of teaching Alaska’s Wild Plants and Wilderness Medical. Thank you to all the girls for a fun, great day and to Lisa Mead with Girl Scouts of Alaska for organizing this amazing program. This Girl Scout week-long camp provides wonderful opportunities for girls from all around Alaska to gather and learn a multitude of valuable life-skills. Thank you to the volunteer parents and everyone that supports the scouting programs of Alaska. See more photos on Facebook  or our

Prepared for the Girl Scout encampment. 

All here and ready to go.
Shelley Plumb helps a group of girls identify a wild plant

Dorothy Adler talks about ways to avoid and prevent hypothermia



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Public Courtesy Notice
Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The North America Outdoor Institute is providing public notice of our intention to apply for a 2014 SnowTrack grant to conduct Snowmobile Instructor Training and Methods of Instruction for those interested in teaching snowmobile safety in the state of Alaska. Read the Full Notice Here

2014 Snowtrack Public Courtesy Notice

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Congratulations to the 2013 BCA prize winner!
Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2013

Jaz Odhner from Moose Pass Alaska, Winner of the NAOI annual avalanche education program!

CONGRATULATIONS and THANKS! Congrats to Jaz Odhner of Moose Pass, Alaska, the winner of the 2013 NAOI feedback/quiz contest. Jaz was one of more than 2,700 people that attended an NAOI Be Snow Smart training thanks to the Alaska Dept. of Public Safety.  Jaz won a BCA shovel, probe and airbag pack thanks to BCA! Thank you to everyone that participated and stay tuned for more great opportunities to learn and win coming soon!

Congratulations Jaz Odhner

View a short video of Jazz accepting his prize.


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Wilderness Safety Games in the Arctic
Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013

This year NAOI took on the task of bringing our wilderness safety challenge games and training programs to the Arctic Slope thanks to generous support from the Arctic Slope Community Foundation. We visited Barrow May 1st (Barrow High) and May 2nd (Fred Ipalook Elementary.) We are learning much about the people and villages we are visiting and hope the lessons we share help the children and communities for generations to come.  We are excited to share our stories and adventures.


On Tuesday afternoon, April 30th, a team of five NAOI Instructors (Debra McGhan, Dorothy Adler, DB Palmer, Shelley Plumb and Sam Albanese) landed in Barrow and were greeted by Jennifer Litera, Principal of Fred Ipalook Elementary, and Mark Roseberry, teacher at Barrow High School. After a quick tour of the town, we were settled into warm, welcoming quarters at the School District’s itinerate housing.  The next morning, after organizing our gear and prize awards and completing final preparations, we headed to the high school where we were met by teachers Mark Roseberry and Chrissann.

During the morning we presented the program to nine high school students. The response was amazing. The kids were engaged, excited, and contributed much with their stories of harrowing experiences.

During the first session one of the scenarios used for the game involved a young boy that was thrown off his snowmobile when he hit a wind drift and landed head first on the ground. A girl in the class said that had happened to one of her friends.

“What ended up happening to your friend?” NAOI Education Director Dorothy Adler asked.

“He died,” the girl told us sadly, hanging her head at the memory.

Adler used this opportunity to explain the dangers of a ‘C’ Spine injury and the proper procedure for handling this condition.

“I understand why my friend died,” the girl that shared the story of her friend said later. “The guys he was riding with said he was cold so they tried to get him up and move him. They didn’t hold his head. They didn’t know…”

At the end of the class, the girl won a pair of Spy anti-fog goggles for participating in the challenge that she sported proudly. When asked ‘what was the most valuable thing gained from the program;’ she said it was the chance to learn and practice the wilderness medical skills.

During the afternoon session 16 students participated. Again we heard amazing stories about hunting, fishing and snowmobiling around Barrow. The program started with a short video based on a true story about the importance of firearm safety. After watching the film, produced by the safety arm of the National Rifle Association, an eerie silence filled the classroom. In the film, two teenage boys take out a 22 rifle without permission and head into the woods to play and shoot. During the course of their adventure, one of the boys breaks important safety rules, slips and the gun goes off shooting his friend in the stomach.

“What did you think?” Sam Albanese, certified firearms safety instructor, asked the students at the end of the movie.

“I’ve seen kids act like that around here,” one boy said. Many of the other students in the class nodded and agreed. Unsafe behavior with firearms was an all too common occurrence. They all agreed they hunt and that firearms are a very important part of their life. They expressed appreciation for the chance to learn more about the safety aspects.

We also heard really positive stories of parents that require their kids to take safety gear and give a trip report before setting out. “My Dad is really strict about that,” one girl told us. “We can never go hunting without telling local authorizes where we’re going and when we expect to be back.”

The opportunity to share this with the other students proved really positive both for the kids that felt their parents were being too strict, and the kids that had never had to do this. It was a great opportunity for our instructors to explain the importance and value of this trip plan and reporting procedures.

The high school students were given five challenges: Preparation (packing and planning,) navigation, snowmobile, wilderness medical and firearm. Feedback from the students proved the program was well received and deeply appreciated. The majority rated the program a five (one being did not like it and five being exceeded expectations.) When asked how likely they will be to change the way they travel and recreate as a result of the challenge game, the majority again gave a rating of four or five.

Feedback comments included, ‘I really liked this challenge,’ to ‘great job!’ to ‘This was a great learning experience,’ to ‘Best Day Ever!’ Other comments included: ‘We need more time.’  Several of the students expressed interest in learning to become a facilitator for the game and were also encouraged to sign up for the Alaska Public Safety Youth Academy to be held in Barrow July 21-27. Our goal is to follow up with the students from our program to train them to serve as mentors and trainers for the elementary school.

The next day the NAOI team headed to the Fred Ipalook Elementary school and was again greeted by a warm, welcoming staff and 139 4th and 5th grade students. Having visited numerous schools during the research and development phase of this project, the NAOI team was surprised and impressed by the discipline and well-mannered students of this school.

“I have to say,” said Adler, “This has got to be the quietest and most well-behaved school we have visited yet. You are all to be commended. Because with this ‘challenge game’ it is important you be able to listen and follow directions. But we also want to see you make noise, move around and imagine yourselves outdoors on a big adventure.” Delighted squeals of delight escaped the crowd as the children turn to look at one another in excitement.

These students were separated into four groups and their challenges included: Preparing (packing and planning,) navigation, snowmobile, wilderness medical and water/ice.

At the start of the program, when asked what the kids liked to do outdoors, the majority said hunting and fishing. So the NAOI team opted to show the firearm safety film for them. At the end one boy asked ‘how can you tell someone that is not being safe that you don’t want to be around them?’

Has that happened to you?” asked Instructor Sam Albanese.

“It has,” the boy said softly.

Albanese took the opportunity to give the children several good examples of how to remove themselves from a dangerous situation.

Other stories included the children in the snowmobile safety challenge who talked about their experiences with people drinking or taking drugs and riding on snowmobiles. Again these stories opened an opportunity for the instructor to share tips and tricks for avoiding or handling these dangerous situations.

In the water and ice challenge, the kids shared stories of uncles, fathers or cousins that had fallen through the ice and how they were able to get out or had died. Most of the children seemed to understand the dangers and in the end the majority rated this part of the challenge as their favorite station.

After a busy, bustling time of traveling around the school to each of the challenge stations, the children were reconvened in the gym for the closing and prize awards. Lots of cheers and thank you shouts exploded when the children were asked what they thought of the activities of the day.

The children each completed their ‘challenge’ cards and turned them in to be drawn for prizes. Every child was given a safety kit for participating and then awards were made through a random drawing for the grand prizes such as snowmobile helmets, goggles, first aid kits, headlamps, flashlights, heat packs, bivy bags and emergency blankets. The children cheered for each other and shared in the fun and success of those who were drawn for the larger gifts.

The majority of feedback received on the cards rated the program at 4 or 5 although there were a few 2’s and 3s. This can likely be attributed to individuals who did not have as much opportunity to participate in some of the activities due to the large number of students, time constraints or more aggressive children dominating the activity.

During the first rotation, one of the instructors completed the packing and planning segment and then sent the students too early and it took several minutes before the problem was identified and we could get the students back to the class to complete their activity. Another instructor sent students to the wrong location, which caused another delay in getting them to the right class. Because this program is very time restricted, mistakes like this mean not enough time for the activities. A frequent comment on the feedback cards said ‘not enough time.’

In general the program was extremely popular and we received a lot of comments like, ‘This was a great day,’ ‘thank you for coming’ and ‘I hope you can come back soon.’ There were also numerous comments that the children said they learned a lot and appreciated the chance to learn about safety.

We are excited about the opportunity to follow up with the students in a few months to see what type of long-term impact this program may have on their travel and recreation habits.

In addition to the training program, students were given information on additional training opportunities such as the ‘Youth Academy’ presented by the Alaska State Troopers. This is a one-week training program that will be held in Barrow July 22 – July 26 and includes a host of topics that range from survival skills to police work and investigation. We were excited by the number of students that had never heard of this program (although it has been held the previous two summers) and were interested in participating.

Additional career opportunities were discussed with the students such as Search and Rescue, Guiding, Environmental and Wildlife Protection and Security. The high school students seemed especially excited to learn about these career opportunities they had not previously considered.

All in all we are excited to report this project is going extremely well and is being well received by school officials, communities and students.

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Safety at Cottonwood Creek Elementary
Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The NAOI team was still out going strong sharing important safety messages at Valley Schools On May 8th thanks to the Mat-Su Health Foundation. A special thanks goes to Cottonwood Creek Elementary PTO for supporting this effort and helping us provide safety kits for all 138 students that had the opportunity to participate in this program. 

Learn how you can have a program at your school by calling 907-376-2898 or email info@naoiak.org


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415 Kids learn safety at Big Lake
Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013

On April 29th the NAOI team went to Big Lake Elementary and held a Wilderness Safety Challenge for 415 students! Yeah Big Lake. Learn how you can have a program at your school by calling 907-376-2898 or email info@naoiak.org

Safety challenge at Finger Lake Elementary School

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Tragedy strikes again
Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Five snowboarders were caught in an avalanche in Loveland Pass in Colorado on Saturday, April 20th. This was the worst avalanche accident experienced in the state since 1962. According to officials, the snowboarders were all carrying avalanche rescue gear and obviously trying to make good decisions.

But sometimes, doing lots of things right isn’t enough. Even one mistake can be deadly.

A  persistent weak layer buried deep in the snow made conditions dangerous which officials had warned of on the state’s  avalanche forecast site. Lots of questions as to what lead up to this tragedy remain to be answered and provide a strong warning to others. You can not be too careful.



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Shojn Brown recovered
Posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The body of nine-year old Shojn Brown (pronounced Shawn) was  recovered Monday, April 15th at 12:30 am.  READ MORE

All of us at the North America Outdoor Institute understand the heavy burden and pain that is gripping the Brown family today and we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences.

We understand because we have been there ourselves.

We ask everyone to please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers as the journey they are now forced to walk will be arduous and painful.

Shojn Brown – Photo CBS News

Other stories related to this incident:   Fairbanks Daily News Miner ; Alaska Dispatch ; SAD DAY FOR EXPERTS



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Zombie Snowmobile Apocalypse winner
Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Congratulations to Nicolette Pankovic of Australia, the 2013 Arctic Man Snowmobile Zombie Apocalypse winner. Nicolette and her husband took time to play the game and were rewarded when Nicolette’s name was drawn as the grand prize winner.

Thanks to ABS airbags, Nicolette received a complete airbag system along with instructions from Dave Norona of Vancouver BC who provided training and information on the system.


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