SARANAC "I've always been into hiking, running and being outside," 22-year-old Ben Rush said of himself. Rush ran for Saranac during his high school years, and it was during those years, while surfing the net, that he came across a website that would change his life. The website was coolworks.com, a site that posts jobs in various National Parks. Rush made obtaining a summer position in a National Park, where he could get out and explore during his free time, one of his goals.
Rush met that goal the summer after his freshman year at Fredonia State. He landed a job in Glacier National Park in Montana. "It turned my world upside down," he said of the experience. "I worked with a super positive group of people who were super physically fit and they were always going out to do something." With plenty of great hiking companions Rush logged 800 miles of hiking, which included some scramble climbing and a close encounter with a grizzly bear.
Rush hoped for more of the same when he sought a position the following summer in Alaska. He was hired at a lodge in Cooper Landing, AK, however his coworkers were more interested in fishing for salmon in the Russian and Kenai Rivers, one of the top salmon fishing areas worldwide. Although Ben enjoyed some awesome salmon fishing, he was left yearning to explore Alaska, and began planning a return trip.
Rush wasted no time. Once again, surfing the net, he stumbled onto another website that would change his life. He discovered NOLS, The National Outdoor Leadership School. NOLS is accredited through the University of Utah and offers a summer semester in Alaska for a small group of adventurous students. The students earn 16 credits in wilderness leadership and survival, environmental studies and ethics, and biology. Rush applied immediately and before Sept. 2006 ended he had a notice of acceptance from NOLS in his hands.