An Environmentalist Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Mr. Kimmel shares his adventures that led him to become a high school science teacher.


Taylor Aubry, Editor-in-Chief

Rocklin High School [RHS] science teacher Mr. William Kimmel hadn’t always planned on pursuing teaching. While in college at University of the Pacific, Mr. Kimmel was a pre-med student, hoping to become a doctor. All of this changed when he attended a National Outdoors Leadership School [NOLS] semester abroad in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, Southern Nevada, and the Utah Canyonlands. Throughout this trip, his passion for ecological and environmental sciences grew. “NOLS is a nonprofit global wilderness school that seeks to help you step forward boldly as a leader.” ( “I did a semester with NOLS, and I have always loved the outdoors but I wanted to learn skills. I knew that NOLS could provide me with those skills, I just didn’t know what an amazing experience it would be. They challenged me in ways I had never been challenged before. It made me grow.” said Mr. Kimmel.

Throughout his time with NOLS, Mr. Kimmel adopted a variety of outdoor leadership skills. “You are always in control, assessing your risks, and making sure that you are prepared. Learning that at a young age carries throughout your whole life,” said Mr. Kimmel. “The skills I learned throughout my time there helped me become a better student when I came back, and a more thoughtful leader. Everything about it made me a better person.” Alongside the technical skills that Mr. Kimmel learned, he also had the opportunity to form meaningful relationships outdoors. “The sharing of books, poems, ideas and meeting people from very different places at that point in my life made me realize how different things are for everyone else all around the world.” said Mr. Kimmel.

After his NOLS semester, Mr. Kimmel returned to become an instructor, pursuing a teaching route. “Once I started working with students and really seeing the growth, most teachers will say that is the main reason why they are in this [as a teacher]. When students grow and become a better version of themselves, there is nothing better. That is the best
part of being an educator.” said Mr. Kimmel. However, being an outdoors guide is not an easy lifestyle. Mr. Kimmel said, “You are spending a month out, and a week in, and a month out. It’s hard on relationships.” To spend more time with his family, Mr. Kimmel transitioned from outdoors instructor to a high school teacher.

Now, as a high school science teacher, Mr. Kimmel carries his experiences in his teaching and is an avid outdoors advocate to his students. “If you get people outside and get real sunlight and see trees and listen to birds, a five minute walk through a forest has an incredible impact on your physiology and the chemistry of your body,” said Mr. Kimmel. “ We are so unbelievably fortunate, especially here in the United States to have an abundance of food, money, and resources. It is not okay that we are as sad as we are. For me, one of the solutions to that is that it is hard to be sad when you are in a beautiful place. If you are in a beautiful place with beautiful people, you can be happy.”