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Course Catalog

Course Catalog

Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship: Full-Time Summer Residential Training Program

Wolf Journey Book 8 Cover Artwork by Joanna Colbert of GaianTarot.comThe Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship is our hallmark program, with eight positions available in this, our 20th Anniversary Year of the program. Over the summer, you will learn hands-on skills of the Neighborhood Naturalist, Traditional Herbalist, Wildlife Tracker, Wilderness Survival Scout, Ancient Artisan, Sustainable Citizen and Environmental Educator, with options to develop one or more of these topics into an area of specialty.

Kim & Chris Chisholm will guide you through this experience alongside veteran faculty and staff as you gain wilderness skills in a fast-paced, outdoor setting. In one summer, you’ll become a professional outdoor educator with skills of backcountry leadership, risk management, and adventure program development – on top of all the in-depth earth skills we teach. Our goal is to ensure that by the end of the summer, you will have the most professional, practical, intellectual as well as hands-on outdoor educational training available, with a specialized skill-set necessary to work anywhere in the field of outdoor education.

Dates for 2018 include June 16 – August 18 with complimentary work-trade extension through August 31 and into September for full tuition reimbursement. You can also arrive as early as June 9th to help with farm conservation work and house remodeling in exchange for room and board, or if for some reason you can’t start by June 16th, you can arrive as late as June 24th if you have Wilderness First Aid certification elsewhere. Tuition is the same no matter your start date June 9-24. After arriving at our home base in Puyallup, Washington, we travel periodically into the Cascade Mountains, Sagebrush Canyonlands, and to the Salish Sea during the summer. We only accept 8 apprentices, so apply by December 30th.

Your first week of the Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship takes place at Blue Skye Farm. Your program coordinators Kim & Chris Chisholm can be spotted this video by 2017 Summer Apprentice Logan Nelson.

FAQ – Tuition, Work-Trade & Employment Opportunities

For the first 15 years of this program, we charged apprentices the cost of their 4-6 training expedition courses and then would start to pay successful participants as employees later in the summer for work assisting youth camps. As time went on, we found that almost 100% of participants were successful and ready to assist at youth camps, so last year, we did not require apprentices to pay full tuition up front, and the pilot program worked just as well as ever. So, we are now instituting an all-work-trade program except for a non-refundable $200 application fee, and $400 tuition before arrival to cover expenses at four Saturday workshop days early in the summer. You can also earn that $600 (and probably more) back if staying with us through the first week of September to reorganize, clean and store camp gear for winter.

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2015 Intern-Apprentice Sarah Inskeep at her study site on the barn roof where she always watched the sunset and kept an eye on the burgeoning wildlife in restored wetlands.

Your participation in 4-5 adult expedition training courses are complimentary in exchange for assisting at 4-5 youth training camps later in the summer, as well as 4-5 weekend workshops you will co-lead with other apprentices. Your application fee of $200 includes initial correspondence, review of your resume/bio, phone interviews, background check, and complimentary access to our Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course curriculum. If accepted, the additional $400 is required to confirm your spot and cover the cost of four initial workshop days with room and board. Otherwise, all your expenses including food and facilities throughout the summer are complimentary in exchange for work-trade: shared help packing/organizing/cooking/cleaning each week.

You don’t have to spend a dime after arrival except for personal variables such as health care and insurance if you aren’t already covered, smart phone and personal vehicle expenses if have you one or both of those, and weekend entertainment if you so choose. You don’t even need any books or laptop, as you will have free access to those in the Conservation College library. Needless to say, our program is the most cost-effective (and best way) to gain outdoor educational skills.

This program is a true apprenticeship since it is designed to train new staff as earth skills educators. The amount of training, work-trade, plus teaching and organizational responsibilities you do varies depending on your availability, ability and readiness. To get a sense for these variables, we recommend you talk with apprenticeship graduates about their experience. Just email us with a request to get in touch with graduates of your choice. Again, we only accept 8 apprentices, so apply by December 30th.

FAQ – Areas of Focus

Although the Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship follows our summer schedule and covers an in-depth topic of outdoor education each week (backcountry trip leadership, teaching and mentoring all ages, wilderness survival, ethnobotany and herbal medicine, wildlife tracking, traditional technologies and crafts, plus optional ancient scouting skills, hunting, fishing, and spiritual retreat) you can also organize your schedule to specialize in a subset of these skills, including:

WJECCArtCoverOutdoor Leadership & Nature Guiding is the most common focus for apprentices, offering the widest array of outdoor education and earth skills. This focus helps you build your summer schedule around skills of naturalist training, backcountry leadership, risk management, adventure program development, and the teaching of the earth skills listed above. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features opportunity for Outdoor Leadership and Nature Guide Certifications upon accreditation.

WJECCArtBook4Traditional Technology & Survival Instruction is a focus area emphasizing navigation, fire, shelter, wild edible foods foraging, and traditional craftwork like tanning hides for leather, making bows and fishing gear for the fall harvest, working with stone to make knives and arrowheads, and practicing survival scenarios in case of emergency. Upon completion, you will know how to harvest and teach plants, animals and minerals with skills needed to honor their gifts. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features Traditional Technologies and Survival Instructor Certifications upon accreditation.

WJECCArtBook2Herbal Medicine & Ethnobotany Instruction is another focus you can choose as part of your apprenticeship experience. Ethnobotany means understanding the relationships between plants and humans, how plants are incorporated into our daily lives, and how humans are dependent upon plant ecosystems. As part of this program, you’ll become an herbalist who knows how to respectfully teach the harvesting and preservation of plants for their medicinal, nutritional, and utilitarian gifts. Click here for more information on this focus area which also features Ethnobotany and Herbalist Instructor Certifications upon accreditation.

WJECCArtBook3Wildlife Conservation & Tracking Instruction is the fourth option we have available as a specialty for you to develop. Participants will realize in every area of outdoor study – herbalism, scouting, survival, traditional living – that “it all comes back to tracking.” If you can find it, you save the time required to make it. Whether you choose this apprenticeship fucus for the purpose of wildlife research, sport, or teaching, you will be well on your way to becoming a highly valuable guide of our native fauna. Click here for more information on this focus area which features Wildlife Tracking Instructor Certification upon accreditation.

FAQ – Summer Schedule

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Close-up of apprentices and youth mentors during the 2016 Backcountry Leadership training including from left-to-right Frida Cruz, Elissa Pemberton, Wren Schmid, Lee Forrest, Sarah Inskeep, Marie Ranney, Jacob Gerstman, Director Chris Chisholm, Thomas Fellows.

June Calendar

Optional June 9 arrival for participation in the Sustainable Home & Gardens – Living on an Acre workshop in exchange for work-trade including room and board the following day.

Optional June 10-15 Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course independent study including room and board in exchange for 2 hours/day of work trade getting ready for summer camps and helping farm interns.

Optional June 15 arrival with complimentary transportation and camping at Deception Pass.

June 16 Workshop: Edible Seaweeds & Shellfish of the Salish Sea

June 17 Workshop: Paleo & Veggie Lifestyles with guest nutritionists and chefs Clay & Ragan Masterson joining Kim & Chris.

June 18-21: Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course field exercises with room and board in exchange for 2 hours/day of work trade getting ready for summer camps and helping farm interns.

Optional Training June 19-20: Wilderness First Aid for additional $200 if you are not currently certified.

June 22 Complimentary Trainings: Morning CPR-AED required if not currently certified, optional afternoon Hunter Education if initial online course completed by this date, and complimentary flintknapping instruction if not doing one or the other training today.

June 23 Workshop: Subsistence Shore Fishing on Piers, Rivers & Lakes

June 24-29 Expedition: Backcountry Leadership – Wilderness Conservation, Navigation & Risk Management

June 30: Hang out with youth staying over the weekend, assist Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market, or help shop for the following week.

July Calendar

July 1-6: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of Teaching Nature I: Professional Training for Future Environmental Educators which runs symbiotically with our Puyallup Day & Family Camps & Classes. Travel to Sahara Creek Horse Camp for our week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

Apprenticeship graduates Heather Carmichael and Wren Schmid at the 2016 Ancient Archers & Artisans traditional technologies training.

Apprenticeship graduates Heather Carmichael and Wren Schmid at the 2016 Ancient Archers & Artisans traditional technologies training.

July 7: Hang out with youth staying over the weekend at our survival camp location, and harvest vine maples for bow making as part of our Saturday volunteer day at the Sahara Creek Horse Camp.

July 8-13: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start of then start the Wilderness Survival Training & Trek. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

July 14: Hang out with youth staying over the weekend, assist Blue Skye Farm interns at the Puyallup Farmers Market, or help shop for the following week.

July 15-20: Travel to the Oregon Coastal Duens and help set up camp from 3-4, greeting participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start the Wildlife Safari – Tracking Oregon Coastal Dunes. Or if your focus is on ethnobotany, you can instead stay in Puyallup to work with farm interns for additional plant knowledge.

July 21: Saturday travel home from the Wildlife Safari expedition to set up camp at Lake Sammamish.

July 22: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start the Lake Sammamish Family Camp or and prepare to assist instructors at Kids Day Camps this week.

July 23-27: Daily potpourri from 7:00-8:00. Breakfasts and morning care from 8:00-9:00. Welcome campers from 9:00-9:30. Camps and classes from 9:30-12:00. Lunches, archery and swimming from 12:00-1:00. Camps and classes from 1:00-3:30. Morning care and prep for tomorrow from 3:30-5:00. Dinner from 5:00-6:00. Finish prepping camps and classes 6:00-8:00. Campfire music and stories from 8:00-9:00.

July 28: Saturday help at the Ancient Artisan Workshop including Leather Hide-Tanning and Making Bows, Arrows & At-Latls workshop at Lake Sammamish from 9:30-4:30 if these skills are part of your specialty focus.

Crop of apprentices and youth mentors at Olympia scout camp 2016 including in diamond order from top left graduate Wren Schmid, center graduate Drew Basham, top right mentor Jackson Fellows, and bottom center graduate Jacquelyn Kellin.

Crop of apprentices and youth mentors at Olympia scout camp 2016 including from top left graduate Wren Schmid, top center graduate Drew Basham, top right mentor Jackson Fellows, and bottom center graduate Jacquelyn Kellin.

August Calendar

July 29 – Aug 3: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start Ancient Archers, Artists & Artisans, or prep for day camps if choosing to assist with The American Pioneer, Wildlife Search & Rescue or Advanced Artisan day camps. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

August 4: Saturday participate and help in the Harvesting & Crafting Natural Plant Fibers for Baskets & More workshop with special guest instructor from 9:30-4:30.

August 5-10: Schedule same as July 24-29 and assisting choice of day camps including Wild Cooking & Herbology or Wilderness Survival Craft or Advanced Wildlife Tracking. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

August 11: Saturday help to co-instruct the Wilderness Survival including Bow Drill Fire Making workshop at Lake Sammamish from 9:30-4:30.

August 12-17: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start Wild Chefs & Herbal Medics or prep for day camps if choosing to assist with Wilderness Survival Craft, Wildlife Search & Rescue or the or Advanced Herbal Medicine. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

August 18: Saturday help to co-instruct the Wild Edible Plant Foraging & Herbal Medicine Making workshop at Lake Sammamish from 9:30-4:30 if these skills are part of your specialty focus.

August 19-24: For apprentices staying longer, this week’s schedule is the same as August 5-10 with options of assisting at the Wild Cooking & Herbology, Wildlife Search & Rescue or Advanced Wilderness Survival day camps. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

Aug 25: Saturday help to co-instruct the Bird Voices, Wildlife Safety & Awareness, Animal Tracks & Trails workshop at Lake Sammamish from 9:30-4:30 if these skills are part of your specialty focus.

August 26-31: Sunday Lunch Meeting 12-1. Pack for the week from 1-2 and travel to course location from 2-3. Help set up camp from 3-4 and greet participants from 4-5. Dinner from 5:00-6:00 then start Secrets of the Ancient Scout overnight camp, or prep for day camps if choosing to assist with Wilderness Survival Craft, Wild Cooking & Herbology or Advanced Scout. Attend week-in-review meeting on Friday evening.

September 1: Saturday help to co-instruct the Backcountry Navigation & Leadership workshop at Lake Sammamish from 9:30-4:30.

September 2-9: Receive $15/hour tuition reimbursement with complimentary room and board at Blue Skye Farm if helping to reorganize gear for winter storage, up to your full $600 program contribution reimbursement.

FAQ – Goals, Mission, Community & Curriculum

2016 Apprentice Kyler Shumaker building rock cairn at survival training.

2016 Apprentice Kyler Shumaker building rock cairn at survival training.

The mission of the internship is to guide you to become a rock-solid outdoor leader and nature guide. Participants will build upon the successes of the past generation of outdoor adventurers and conservationists who worked hard to pass the endangered species act and saved countless acres of habitat, plants and animals where almost none remained two generations ago. It is an apprenticeship designed for:

1) aspiring outdoor leaders and those who want to become nature guides in parks and other settings, learning to teach and lead outdoor skills while simultaneously becoming versed in them; or
2)
experienced naturalist, trackers, herbalists, scouts, artisans, permaculturists, hunters, fishers, biologists and ecologists who want to broaden their skill set and learn to teach their craft to students of all ages; or
3) experienced teachers who want to become versed in outdoor skills in a fast-paced educational setting.

No matter your previous experience, you will be expected to fully participate in every possible summer opportunity to push your skills to a higher level of excellence, although your own health will be the priority while developing into better and healthier leaders and guides. By the time you complete the course, you will become a key resource on the natural world for your community, probably the best expert on habitat conservation in your neighborhood, and you will know how to help people make footprints on the earth as light as possible as we create the future for humanity and all its relations. Apply by December 30th for the best placement opportunities.

Your goals will expand over the the summer, from learning the basics of earth skills education, to further developing your earth skills, being given teaching opportunities during the summer according to your desire and readiness. Curriculum for the program will include field exercises from the Wolf Journey Earth Conservation Course – Trials of the Neighborhood Naturalist, Traditional Herbalist, Wildlife Tracker, Survival Scout, Ancient Artisan, Honorable Hunter, Sustainable Citizen and Environmental Ed.

1st Priority: Learn the best methods of teaching earth skills to all ages. The way to become the best of teachers is to observe, participate in, and take notes on all the activities our instructors present over the summer, including staying up a half hour after the kids go to sleep in order to record your experiences.

2nd Priority: Take care of yourself, while nurturing campers and supporting other staff. It is important that you come into the program as healthy and prepared as possible, for although during the training portion of the program your educational needs are the focus, during the summer camp season, the needs of the children at camp will be the focus, so you will have to learn to remain healthy amongst constant camp activity. This is the trick to a successful teaching career.

3rd Priority: Develop a working knowledge of all earth skill categories. Apprenticeship graduates always relate how at the end of the summer, they were amazed at how this “just happened”. The opportunity to assist lead instructors and take on instructional leadership yourself during the summer is a great way to fully embody your own earth skills, because sometimes you can learn best only that which you teach.

FAQ – Outdoor Education & Earth Skills

Earth Skills

• Wildlife Tracking (identification, trailing, aging, interpretation)
• Birding & Bird Language (academic and song-to-alarm interpretations)
• Naturalist Sketching & Journaling (using sit spots, drawing instruction, quick journaling strategies)
• Skills of the Ancient Scout (sensory awareness, stealthy movement, camouflage, games)
• Wild Edible Foraging & Preparation (Herbs, Nuts, Roots, Flowers, Fruits, Insects)
• Primitive Cooking & Food Storage (pit cook, clay oven, ash cakes, smoking, jerkying, pemmican)
• Medicinal Herb Collection & Preservation (drawing from knowledge of area herbalists)
• Preventative Health & Herbal Spas (from daily health routines, to our special spa treatments)
• Emergency Shelter & Primitive Shelter (bivouac bed, eagles nest, lean-to, wickiup, thatch hut, etc)
• Wet Fire Maintenance & Fire by Friction (bow drill, hand drill, fire plow, flint & steel, firesteel)
• Flintknapping & PTool Making (from harvested stones, bones, wood)
• Bow & Arrow Making (survival bows, self bows, lumber bows, fletching, lashing, etc.)
• Subsistence Fishing (rivers and lakes for salmon and trout, piers for bottomfish, crab, perch, shark)
• Natural Water Purification (seeps, filters, rock boiling, and locating natural springs)
• Bowls & Cordage Making (double and triple reverse wrap using nettle, fireweed, cedar, kelp)
• Primitive Hunting (bow and arrow, rabbit stick, at-latl, ethics, strategies, butchering)
• Hide Tanning (wet and dry scraping, brain and other high-tannin methods, hair on and off
• Natural Selection Forestry (chopping, sawing, splitting and moving)
• Organic Gardening, Fruit Orcharding & Chicken Rearing
• Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, Navigation & Orienteering
• Parfleching (carrying cases, drum making, sheaths and quivers with fur and tanned hide)
• Bioregional Ecosystems (old growth temperate rainforest, glaciated alpine meadow, intertidal and estuary, river and lake, wetland and bog, desert and sagebrush steppe, mixed pine and subalpine forest)

Environmental Educational Skills

• Best skills to introduce to each age group (3-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, 19-21, young adults, parents, elders)
• Most effective methods to use with each age group (didactic/wolf, questioning/coyote, imagining/fox, imitation/dog)
• Delivery of age appropriate stories (personal, european, african, persian, chinese, other eastern, indigenous)
• Music and the Arts (flute making, drumming, songwriting, poetry, clay sculpting, natural paints, singing and pianos/guitars on hand)
• Trip Leadership & Risk Management (assessing sites, planning activities, mitigating hazards)
• Emergency Rescue, Advanced First Aid, CPR (wilderness and water settings)
• Influences of Nature on Spirituality (buddhist, christian, hindi, indigenous, jewish, muslim) including opportunities of retreats and quests, sweat lodges and fasts
• Health & Organizational Strategies (western lineal and medicine wheel use for self, lessons, projects)
• Incorporating Earth Skills & Starting New Schools (examples of non-profits, partnerships, sole ventures, and communities)
• Political Environmentalism (left and right wing strategies, legislative and artistic strategies)

FAQ – Program Benefits & History

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2016 Wolf Gathering 20th Anniversary Kick-Off Celebration with 2016 Apprentice Sarah Inskeep; Apprentice-Turned-Instructor Hannah HP; Coordinator Kim Chisholm; and 2016 Apprentice Wren Schmid.

Our apprenticeship program was piloted in 2000. More than half our staff came on board this way, while others enrolled to receive training in order to found their own schools or gain experience for employment elsewhere. Past apprentices say that the place they learned the most about teaching and leadership, as well as where they learned the greatest bulk of their earth skills, was while assisting the incredible instructors at Wolf Camp as they guided youth and adults through the summer.

Graduates invariably express how grateful they are in the year following their apprenticeship when they realize that they somehow “just know how to lead and teach” outdoor skills and other subjects as well. Check out our apprenticeship testimonials from novice apprentices, former campers-turned-instructors, and experienced educators who all succeeded in our summer apprenticeships and agree that the results far exceed expectations.

Benefits of this program include eligibility for employment at Wolf Camp, strong recommendations for employment elsewhere, and advice for starting your own guiding programs. Some might think that not spending any money all summer, and often starting to get paid over time is the bottom line benefit, but the real benefit is your transformation into an excellent outdoor leader, ready for employment as a nature guide wherever organizations and agencies need qualified experts.

Ready to Apply?

Click here for our full application and make a deposit by December 30th for the best placement opportunity:


Choose your application payment securely via PayPal: (account not necessary using credit/debit card)
Applicant Name & Age:
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Or email us to be put on our our list for this program in the future. We always keep your information absolutely private, and will never share it. You can also like our facebook page to keep in better touch, and once you’ve attended a program, please review us on our Better Business Bureau, Yelp & Google pages.

Refund Policy: Standard deposits ($100 for day programs, $200 for overnight programs) are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel in advance of the program start time for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.

We’re looking forward to receiving your application, and click here for supplemental FAQs received from applicants. Also, feel free to call or email us so we can clarify any questions you have. There is so very much to gain and to give in this program, so we’re looking forward to sharing it with you. – Kim & Chris Chisholm

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Blue Skye Farm Rainbow Series: View from our barn looking over Meeker Creek restoration project before replanting began in Winter 2015