Denali Alaska 2023

The Kauffmann Program

The Kauffmann Program

NYA Kauffmann Alaska Trip 2023, Denali National ParkThe Kauffmann Program is an exemplary study in adventure-based learning. With a focus on environmental thinking, writing, conservation, and wilderness travel, the program is intended to create opportunities for students to acknowledge the importance of wilderness conservation and environmental issues.

NYA Kauffmann Alaska Trip 2023, Denali National Park, Seward AlaskaThe Kauffmann Program is aligned with NYA’s mission to develop a “concern for the larger community and appreciation for the natural environment.” The program seeks to preserve and extend the legacy of former NYA trustee & NPS Conservationist John M. Kauffmann, a neighbor and friend of NYA who had a lifelong passion for public lands and wilderness conservation.

Components of the Kauffmann Program

NYA Kauffmann Alaska Trip 2023, Denali National Park, Seward AlaskaStudents can participate in the Kauffman Program through the Middle School Leadership Academy, Glacier Bay Environmental Writing Course, Environmental Writing Seminar, Kauffmann Prize for Environmental Writing, the Outing Club, and sea kayaking in our fleet of boats. NYA also offers an elective class entitled “Brain Training & Resilience” as part of the Kauffmann Program. Students may pursue a Diploma with Distinction in Outdoor & Environmental Leadership.

2023 -2024 Kauffmann Events and Programs (2024 -2025 list coming soon)
  • March 29, 2024, 6:00 p.m. in the Middle School Community Room:  In collaboration with Maine Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, NYA is hosting outdoor writers Christine Cunningham and Steve Meyer for a thought-provoking and photo-illustrated talk about their new book “The Land We Share: A love affair told in hunting stories.”  Open to the public.
  • April 17, 2024, 6:30 p.m. Middle School Community Room: A reading with Poet and Naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield. Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Broadsided Press. Director of Creative Writing at Brandeis University. Kauffmann Program Directory Ian Ramsey will also read from his book, “Hackable Animal.”
  • Kauffmann Prize for Environmental Writing: Stay tuned for 2025 deadlines. Open to all Maine high school students. Winners will be contacted and announced on NYA’s website along the winning pieces. Details can be found here.

Kauffmann Program on Instagram

Kauffmann Program on Facebook

seeing is believing

Images from the Denali, Alaska Trip, June 2023, part of the Kauffmann Environmental Writing Course at NYA. Images by Brian Beard Photography, Maine.

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NYA Kauffmann Alaska Trip 2023Denali National Park Seward Alaska

Denali National Park, Seward Alaska, NYA Kauffmann Alaska Trip 2023 Photo: Brian Beard


“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” ~Bill Bradley

This is not merely a fun hiking trip (though it is that also!), but a laboratory for students to develop personal grit and leadership skills. The NYA Leadership Academy is a program where NYA Middle School students spend five days hiking across the high peaks wilderness of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It is open to rising seventh and eighth grade students at NYA. Students should be physically and mentally capable of hiking for four strenuous days in the mountains. Over five days, students learn about, and practice, leadership. Students work together as a team to cross some of the most challenging and beautiful terrain in America. The group stays at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s high mountain huts, above tree line, and learns about the unique history and ecology of the White Mountains. Each student will have a chance to lead the group and to take on different responsibilities. Through individual conversations, daily journaling, group conversations, and facing challenges, students will learn about their own individual leadership styles. They will leave the program with improved self-knowledge and goals that they will apply to the coming school year.

The Wildest Thing

“The Wildest Thing” was written by Kauffmann Program Director Ian Ramsey for Oregon’s Territory Run Company. It is about how time in wilderness brings out the best in kids, and it references the first NYA trip to Glacier Bay, Alaska. (Note: Ian is an ambassador for Oregon’s Territory Run Company’s brand.)