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Outdoor Economy

Lessons from the Mountain: Outdoor Education for Entrepreneurs

Mountain Morgue

 

Lessons from the Mountain

One of the best places to contemplate is on top of a mountain.  There are so many things that can be learned and applied to one’s business and life from the process of climbing a mountain.  Those that hike with their mind open learn different things from the journey.  There are several schools and education programs that use outdoor skills to teach team building, leadership and life lessons.

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from climbing a mountain.  About 7 years ago, I climbed Mount Whitney with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen.  (Mark Victor Hansen is a speaker and famed co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for The Soul” series.  Robert Allen is a renowned author, entrepreneur and real estate guru).  We climbed together with a group of entrepreneurs on a trip organized by my friend Werner Berger, who is a business strategist who once broke the record as the oldest man to climb Mount Everest.  Our group had been watching Mark and Robert speak and teach from a stage over the prior weeks where they were very comfortable.   The hike to Mount Whitney was the first time we had the opportunity to interact in a situation where we all had to overcome challenges together in unfamiliar, treacherous territory.  We learned a lot about each of our strengths, limitations, and the value of teamwork.   It does not matter how much fame and fortune you have attained, when you are crossing a steep, snow covered slope that drops thousands of feet off a cliff, everyone is on the same playing field.  The view from the summit made it all worth it.

Robert Allen often uses his experience of a previous dangerous hike he had taken as a lesson to illustrate the following:

The best fishing holes are usually found in the most difficult to reach places. Those that do what it takes to make the trip and overcome adversary, reap the benefits.

A few lessons that I took from the experience of climbing Mount Whitney were:

Be prepared
It is easier to get somewhere if you know where you are going.  It is smart to study the terrain you will be hiking and get a rough idea of what you are in for.  Make sure you have the right supplies and are prepared for emergencies.  You should also have an idea of who you will be climbing with.  A plan can help you avoid some real problems and help you have a much more enjoyable experience.  If things don’t go according to the plan, be ready to improvise with good judgment.

Keep steady and be persistent
The secret for reaching new heights really comes down to putting one foot in front of the other.  Learn from those who have come before you to chart your course.  Then keep chugging along with dogged persistence.  If you work as a team, your strengths are multiplied.

Bring a good guide
A competent guide is invaluable to help you avoid the common pitfalls and danger zones.  They can help guide you through the rough areas of the hike and get you to the summit a lot easier than if you were to go it alone.   There are many people that are willing to share their experience.  It makes sense to listen to them.

Expect ups and downs
There may be some really steep, arduous cliffs to climb as well as some easy plateaus and dips.  The trail to the top is full of challenges.  Be prepared to meet each one.  Realize that it is all part of the process.  Each time you overcome a challenge, you emerge stronger, wiser, and closer to your goal.

Enjoy every part of the journey
The great beauty of the climb is all around you every step of the way.  Everywhere you look there is something fascinating.  All the ups and downs have something to teach you.  Don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

Take advantage of the opportunities to gain a new perspective
Each part of the journey offers a different perspective.  The terrain, plants, and wildlife often change during an ascent.  You will get to see a different part of the mountain and gain a new understanding if you take time to absorb it. Once you sit on top and look back down over the vast peaks, take time to contemplate what you have done and enjoy the moment.

The natural world has so much to teach us.  I hope you find strength and enlightenment climbing your own personal mountains and share your experiences to help others.

 

Nature Inspired Inventions and Engineering for Aviation

Humans have long been inspired by observing nature. Leonardo Da Vinci sketched several designs of potential flying machines based on the observation of birds.
Aviation technology has made dramatic changes since the first flight of the Wright Brothers.  Engineers now look back to the masters of the natural world to find clues for amazing breakthroughs in aviation design.  The following are just a few of the nature inspired improvements in aviation engineering and technology:
Morphing Wings
Birds and insects are able to adjust their wing size and shape while they fly. They have skeletal and vascular structures that morph into different shapes in order to compensate for the ideal conditions needed to maneuver effectively in the air. Engineers are experimenting with several creative designs that mimic the birds to adjust the wings of  aircraft in order to fit every stage of the flight mission.
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Perching
When birds come in for a landing, they execute a series of maneuvers and adjustments that allow them to make extremely accurate stops on difficult perches.  Birds do not use the standard, linear landings made by most aircraft. Engineers are testing how to recreate bird-like adjustments in speed and direction to help aircraft land safely and accurately.  The aircraft of the future may not need runways or brakes!   Bird morphing wings and perching behaviors  that are influencing aviation design are discussed in the 2011 abstract by Elvin Pineda from the University of Massachusetts.
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Winglets from Outstretched Eagle Wings
The wing-tips of Eagles and other birds have also caught the attention of several aviation engineers.  Several airplanes have been designed with adjustable wingtip mechanisms. This allows the aircraft to make slight adjustments to their wing tips to reduce the drag of the aircraft and improve efficiency and handling characteristics as well as enhance safety for following aircraft without increasing the wingspan. This also provides an increase in lift generated at the wingtip by smoothing the airflow and reducing the lift induced drag . The increased efficiency and reduced drag also improves fuel efficiency.
Lightweight Superstructure
The skeletal structures of bees and butterfly are extremely strong and light weight and able to form different shapes to allow the creatures to flutter from one flower to the next with great maneuverability and ease.  Engineers are examining designed aircraft using similar patterns that mimic the shapes and curves of bees and insects.  Birds also have well designed beaks and facial features that are being studied by engineers in order to make more aerodynamic designs.  These designs have also proved to be incredibly durable.
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Shark Skin

Flying creatures are not the only natural teachers that are schooling modern aviation engineers.  Sharks have a groovy skin that allows them to glide through the water with the greatest of ease.  Engineers copy these grooves in the hull design of aircraft in order to reduce wind drag and increase speed and efficiency.
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Noise Reduction

Engineers are on a constant quest to reduce airplane noise.  A number of creatures are giving lessons on how to keep the flying machines from disturbing the peace.  The pistol shrimp emits a loud crack sound to stun prey and confuse predators while tuning the frequency out of his own brain.  Bees position their honeycombs in a certain way to dampen sound. Owls are experts of stealth and silent flight.  Engineers are also taking a close look at creatures such as cicadas, butterflies, and fish to provide some insight on how to develop potential noise reduction technology.  Some of the ideas include retractable brush fringe and serrated  engine casings.
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Aviceda                                                                             Pdx.rollingthunder
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These are just a few ways of how engineers are looking to the time-tested methods of the natural world to design the flying machines of the future. That is the reason why companies like Boeing and Airbus are sending their engineers off on outdoor adventures to examine the genius of the natural world.  It just makes sense to take flight lessons from those that have been doing it for thousands of years!
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Top Scientists, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs look to Nature for Inspiration and Guidance

 

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Who is the most influential educator in the world?

There is no one who has taught more people or created more things that we often take for granted. She has taught every one of the greatest scientist from Aryabhata to Albert Einstien. She showed André-Jacques Garnerin how to make a parachute and taught the Wright Brothers how to fly. She showed Ben Franklin electricity, taught Alessandro Volta how to harness it, and showed Nikola Tesla how to transport it. She has been responsible for the first sparks of fire to the modern match. She is the mother of all inventions from every industry from agriculture to drinking water.

 

Yet she has often been ignored, taken advantage of, and abused.

Now, top scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are once again looking to her for guidance.

Even billionaire, Sir Richard Branson looks to her for advice on how to direct the many companies of the Virgin Brand. He calls her the “Original Entrepreneur” and insists that it is crucial we learn from her if we are to continue to enjoy the wealth that we have derived from her for hundreds of centuries.

Companies like Boeing, have sent their top engineers to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast to study her in order to come up with solutions for better aviation design. Nike and General Electric have also looked to her to create more effective products and systems.

She is teaching scientists and engineers from the Sahara desert project how to harness energy from the sun and grow food using saltwater in one of the world’s most hostile climates. Projects like these could lead to reforestation of deserts and new ways of sustaining struggling communities.

Mother Nature has had over 3.8 billion years for research and development to come up with innovative systems and designs that are extremely efficient and create zero waste. She is open to teach anyone who is willing to take the time to study with her.

Are we taking time to study?

As people in developed countries spend more time in front of electronic screens, it becomes more important to find opportunities to help them learn from the great educator that lies right outside in the natural world. That is why it so important to create opportunities for young people to learn from her.

More companies are recognizing the value of studying nature as a means for developing systems and design even though it is often counter intuitive for their workforce. Not only can new products and services be developed, but also systems of building a more harmonious relationship between nature and business. As Branson puts it, “…we must recognize the value of the natural assets on our balance sheets” .

In addition to traditional education, we should encourage students to re-learn how to ask questions and look to the great educator of nature for answers. They can then use what they learn to develop new technologies and systems, learn how to profit from her abundance and at the same time find ways to take care of her as she ages.

These are the critical thinking skills that innovative companies will be searching for.  How we use what we learn from the lessons of mother nature will determine our future.

Pay attention because class is in session!

 

_____________________________

 Richard Branson:  Mother Nature, the Original Entrepreneur

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/4282197

http://saharaforestproject.com/projects/qatar.html

http://www.edinformatics.com/inventions_inventors/

How Learning About The Natural Environment Can Boost Tourism

Tour Hydrangeasoperators that have learned to provide quality outdoor education opportunities are creating a win-win-win situation.

They are providing a positive learning environment for their guests and are attracting families.

They are creating family bonding experiences where both adults and children are having fun learning together and spending time being active outdoors.

They are creating more satisfied customers who will help to spread the news about the operation and the influence that it has had on them.

They are increasing their occupancy and creating a competitive advantage over other similar operations.

They are creating more responsible citizens that will have a ripple effect on the long-term outcomes of the area.

They can attract school, church and other student groups who enjoy the who are looking for the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while they learn about the environment.

Creating the right programs that will attract these families takes some research and talented staff.

Successful strategies for developing environmental education program can be learned by others who have spent years developing and refining their programs and are now reaping the benefits.

There are several keys to developing an environmental education program for your guests:

Do Your Research

Get a good understanding of the most successful programs that others in your field have offered to get an idea of what people are looking for and responding to.

Take inventory of your environment and assets

Think about what you can realisticly offer your guests. Sometimes it is just about adding an education component to what you already have.

Analyze from your client’s perspective

Consider the logistics of how your guests will participate taking into account transportation, space and sitting room.

Think about what you will need to purchase in order to run the program.

It may be a good idea to consider building a dedicated interpretive center and central place for promoting and booking.

Hire the right people

Your staff will be critical to the success of your program. Make sure you do a thorough vetting process to make sure your staff  has both the knowledge and personal skills to educate and entertain while being patient and professional. Personal skills and professionalism are most important.

Knowledge can be gained through training. The right staff will increase their knowledge for themselves overtime.

Leave a comment with your questions if you are interested in providing environmental education opportunities for your guests.

If you already run or are involved in successful environmental education, please add your expertise so as to help others who are creating their own.

If you are interested in providing environmental education programs for your guests. Please leave a comment or contact me.

 


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Environmental Education: Benefits to the Economy & Human Health

outdoor environmental educationWhat do Ben Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, Beethoven, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Mozart, John Frost, Henry David Thoroeu, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Albert Einstien, Carl Linnaeus, Copernicus, The Wright Brothers, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gough, and many other great men and women of art and science have in common?

They were all influenced by nature and created some of their greatest accomplishments by observing it and learning from it.

As our plugged-in lifestyles cause us to spend less and less time outdoors, what is being lost as we become more and more disconnected with the outside world?

The sedentary lifestyle spent in front of screens has led to a dramatic increase in obesity and other health related issues.

The resources below show how Environmental Education can help both children and the economy.

Why Environmental Education is Important
[ForestFoundation.org]

Today we are seeing a drastic change as people spend more time indoors in-front of screens and less time exploring the world around them. This generation has been growing up indoors and disconnected.

According a worldwide study in 2005, %53 of children expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow.

This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real.

Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources?

What is the cost to society?

Cost of Obesity:
[GetAmericaFit.org]

According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight
(BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), medical expenses
accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998
and may have reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars)(Finkelstein, Fiebelkorn, and Wang, 2003).

Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.

Cost of ADHD
[Center for Disease Control & Prevention]

Rising hyperactivity and and attention deficit causes significant burden on the medical and healthcare system. The cost of ADHD is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion, and is estimated to be between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual.

This does not mention the stress on parents, teachers, and the students own self esteem and achievement

Cost of Disconnection to Nature
[Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching]

53% of children in a worldwide study expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow. Schoolyard design also reflects a lack of understanding of how quality outdoor play environments can provide children rich educational opportunities, particularly in the area of social skills and environmental learning (Evan 1997)

Environmental Education can be a solution to these issues.
[Campaign for Environmental Literacy]

Environmental education increases student engagement, improves academic achievement in core areas, reduces discipline and classroom management problems, increases enthusiasm for learning, creates greater student pride and ownership in accomplishments, and provides critical tools for 21st century workforce.

This has been proven to be true for students with and without learning disabilities.

Children and families with opportunities to play outside in natural areas and explore their environment have been found to develop a deeper sense of place and understanding of who and what they are.

Families that understand the benefits of outdoor play are looking for ways to allow their children time outside in a safe learning environment.

Now that we know environmental education can directly and indirectly add social and economical value, how do we go about implementing strategies to ensure that our communities have access?

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