Archived Outdoors

Scholarship available for NOC Guide School

A new, need-based scholarship is available for people with limited resources to launch a career in whitewater at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. 

The Founders Scholarship, funded by The Wesser Foundation Inc, is open to applicants for the 2023 season and will cover the cost of training, equipment, housing and meal plans for NOC’s renowned Guide School. The Wesser Foundation was established by Jess Austin, who had to forego becoming a river guide in his twenties due to economic constraints. After completing law school and retiring from a career in the field, he made the dream from his younger years come true. He now works as a river guide at NOC. 

“My wife and I established the Founders Scholarship as a way of removing systemic barriers for anyone attempting to access a career in the outdoors,” Austin said. “As someone who had to put aside outdoor aspirations due to financial barriers, I’m inspired to remove limitations and help more folks gain access to careers and training in the outdoors.”    

Guide School participants spend five days in the field training with experienced instructors. Along with learning guide skills, scholarship recipients will also be outfitted with the essential river gear and equipment, take first aid and CPR training and certifications, and receive complimentary staff housing and meals while employed at Nantahala Outdoor Center during the river guide season. 

The application is available at The selection and interview process will begin in the winter, with winners announced in the spring. 

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