Inspired and encouraged by these two mentors, Jon went on to pioneer the blending of Native mentoring and cultural techniques from around the world with a broad array of modern tools for connecting with nature and developing refined and holistic tracking skills. The synthesis of all this has become what is now known as the “8 Shields Cultural Mentoring Model”. This model has now influenced well over 150 eco-community and nature education programs and schools in the United States, Canada and Europe, and is also used in his consulting for organizations, government agencies and communities worldwide.
Forest Floor Wilderness Programs is proud to be informed and inspired by this rich heritage and compelling lineage. Due to the combination of high-quality instructors, proven mentoring techniques, and the utilization of curricular and cultural models based on the cycles of nature, response from the Asheville community has been overwhelmingly positive. From meager beginnings, with only 2 instructors/mentors and 8 children joining us once a week, Forest Floor has grown quickly in the years since it began. Spreading primarily by word-of-mouth, we now serve well over 80 families on a regular basis, offering weekly programs for home-school families, bi-weekly programs for teens & public school children, week-long summer overnight & day camps, and classes for adults.
As a young man, Jon Young worked off and on for many years at the Tracker School as an instructor, special guest and children’s program development specialist. Additionally, from 1984 to 1994, Jon was mentored as a naturalist, tracker, cultural specialist and mentor by the African Akamba elder M. Norman Powell (Ingwe). Ingwe supported Jon as the honored elder and co-founder of Jon’s newly founded Wilderness Awareness School (1983, Monmouth County, NJ).
Before developing and refining these mentoring models and techniques, Jon Young was trained as a boy by Tom Brown Jr., renowned outdoorsman, tracker, teacher, and author of 16 books, including The Tracker. For ten years, starting at the age of 7, Tom Brown was himself mentored in the skills of tracking, wilderness survival, and nature awareness by Stalking Wolf (Grandfather), an Apache elder, shaman, and scout. Afterwards Tom spent ten years living in the wilderness with no manufactured tools, perfecting these skills and teachings. In 1978 Brown opened the Tracker School, now the largest of its kind.
The roots of our programs and the heart of our curriculum is what we call “Deep Nature Connection”, which utilizes the methods of Coyote Mentoring, the design elements of the “8 Shields” model, and the concepts of “Culture Repair”, as they have been developed and taught by Jon Young, founder of the Wilderness Awareness School and co-author of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.
Community is Marissa's passion, with a deep belief in the need for humans to feel connected with themselves, each other, and the living, pulsing, juicy reality of life in which we walk. It is Marissa's belief that we realize our own greatest potential and experience our deepest joy when we are in a nurturing and supportive group seeking to harmonize with the cyclical rhythms of the living planet around us.
Deeply rooted in the Earthskills movement and committed to co-creating a new culture within which we, our children and all beings thrive, Marissa and her children are now nesting in Barnardsville, NC. These adventure seeking creatures are eager to meet others and share games, skills and the wisdom that we all inherently possess.
Emily is a naturalist, herbalist and survivalist. She has an undying curiosity about the natural world around her and loves to play in the woods! Emily has more recently co-facilitated Rites of Passage experiences for teen girls, and is passionate about empowering youth and nurturing their connection to the natural world. She has been facilitating nature programs for children for over six years, working at summer camps, after school programs, organized classes, and has facilitated childrens programs at regional earthskills events and workshops.
Emily's basketry website- http://www.emilyjernigan.com/
The Living Earth School
The Institute for Wild Intelligence
School of Integrated Living(SOIL)
Black Mountain, NC
Luke Cannon's Astounding Earth
Clint is a Certified Wilderness Guide through Teaching Drum Outdoor School in Wisconsin. He serves as Coordinator of the Earthskills Rendezvous, a primitive skills event held in N. Georgia twice a year. He has worked extensively with children as a lead instructor at both the Living Earth School and The Institute for Wild Intelligence, regional summer camps based on the same nature-connection model as Run Wild!. Clint is a certified Wilderness First Responder, the industry standard for handling medical emergencies in a wilderness setting.
Forest Floor Wilderness Programs was founded in 2011 with the goal of providing the Asheville area with nature-connection mentoring programs designed to re-connect youth and adults with the natural world, while also serving as a hub around which nature-based community can form.
Jamie has a strong love for the earth and a love for our human community. As owner and director or Herban Farmacy, an herbal wellness CSA based in the Asheville area, Jamie is passionate about a livelihood that is both environmentally and socially conscious.
She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Plant Biology, and a minor in Environmental Studies. Her love for plants and healing continues through constant study of herbalism with a variety of esteemed teachers.
Jamie also teaches children’s herbal first aid at a variety of schools and home school programs in the Asheville area and runs a successful massage practice.
Jamie's website- http://www.herbanfarmacy.org/
Michael Ismerio is a passionate teacher who has been teaching music to people of all ages for over 10 years. In 2008 he became immersed in the growing Deep Nature Connection movement and shifted his focus to guiding others on their journey to awareness, authenticity, and connection. Michael grew up in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, spent many years in the lush rainforests of the Pacific North west, and now calls Asheville home.
Michael's website- http://michaelismerio.com/
Luke's courses of study include the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, Plant Biology at Cornell University, the Karuna Falls School of Permaculture (NZ) and Jon Youngs Art Of Mentoring program. Luke has designed and led adults, teens and children in numerous outdoor connection classes and expeditions. He currently lives in WNC, where he teaches regular nature connection and ecological literacy classes, and leads walks on plants, birds, fungi and most things wild.
Luke's website- http://www.astoundingearth.com/