At Earth Path, in order to achieve the outcomes of our mission and vision, we use a unique and integrative approach to program planning and facilitation.
What we teach
- Identifying plants and trees, and learning about their edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses.
- Tuning our awareness to bird language and what it can tell us about what is happening in the surrounding environment.
- Wildlife observation: paying close attention to the behavior and life cycles of mammals, amphibians, insects, birds, and other creatures of the forest. This includes tracking and studying their movement through the landscape.
- Exploration of geological wonders like fossils, clay, rocks, gems, sand, soil, and waterways, and what they can tell us about ecological history
- Increasing awareness about the local ecosystem by learning about invasive species, erosion, pollution, ecological indicators, and the interconnectedness of all life in the forest
- Supporting the health of the local ecosystem by organizing and participating in stewardship activities and observing how these activities have a positive impact on the ecosystem
- Safety and awareness: learning to identify, assess, and manage or mitigate risks and hazards, and navigating ‘healthy’ risks with supervision.
- Tool-use: learning safe techniques for carving, harvesting, and processing wood with knives, hatchets, gauges, and saws.
- Fire-making: learning how to build safe and effective fires using different fire-starting methods such as flint and steel, matches, lighters, and friction (bow drill, hand drill, etc)
- Shelter-building: making lean-to’s, snow forts, animal homes and debris huts.
- Navigation: observing weather patterns and natural landmarks, using compasses, and sometimes even looking at stars!
- Harvesting, processing, and weaving natural fibers into baskets, toys, matts, shelter reinforcements, and rope.
- Making medicines like syrups and teas from plants and trees.
- Processing or preparing wild food such as; acorns and nuts, edible roots and tubers, fruits, seeds, leaves, and flowers.
- Hide-tanning and natural inks/dyes.
How we teach
Our pedagogical approach supports participants’ learning in ways that inspire them, challenge them, and help them to grow. We use a variety of different teaching methods in order to achieve this. These methods include:
We engage participants by making real-world connections through exploration and high-level questioning by using inquiry-based methods instead of didactic* teaching. This inspires a love for learning, improves their retention of information, boosts their confidence, and teaches them how to learn.
*Didactic teaching is a teaching method that focuses on giving structured lessons and lectures to students.
We engage participants in local heritage, cultures, natural history, landscapes, and livelihoods; fostering a sense of place for them within the surrounding community and landscape.
We strive to be flexible, adaptable, and responsive to the interests of our participants. This creates excitement and active participation, helps to build relationships between participants, peers, and instructors, and fosters creativity and curiosity.
We leave space in our programs for child-led learning and open-ended play. Play-based learning allows children to take initiative, develop social skills, focus, and become curious about the world around them.
We use a variety of perspectives, themes, and skills that are intentionally woven throughout our programs to promote learning across all subjects to support the whole-person. This extends beyond academic subjects and into areas like emotional intelligence, mental health, and physical well-being.
What we do
How we put the curriculum and methods into practice in order to support our mission and vision:
- Timeless exploring of the landscape without an agenda or plan, following the natural inspirations of the participants.
- Creative expression: singing, storytelling, nature journaling, making art from natural materials.
- Playing games that teach the foundations of naturalist topics and help to develop participants’ awareness.
- Group projects and time allocated for practicing wilderness skills.
- Sit spots: sitting alone quietly in nature and observing the world around us.
- Growing our own food and helping local farmers tend and harvest their crops.
- Removal of invasive species, planting of native plants and trees, and other stewardship activities.
- Safety engaging with risk with activities such as big body play, tree climbing, tool-use, fire-making, hill-climbing, etc.
What are the outcomes?
- Increased academic performance
- Increase in physical, mental, and social health
- Improved emotional, behavioral, and intellectual development
- Increased enthusiasm and passion for learning
- Increased environmental awareness
- Deep connection to the natural world
The idea of regenerative design or intergenerational connection allows us to continue to create nature-connected youth and families. Earth Path creates a metaphoric basket that holds individuals and families in its program structure.
It is this basket that allows them to have a place to grow into connection from our Oaks and Acorns program (0-3) to our Fox Kit (4-6) to our Raccoons (7 to 9), up to the Bobcat program (10-13) and teen apprenticeship which flows into our adult programs. This cyclic program design is imperative for nature connection not just to be a discreet program but a continuous life-long process.
Mentoring is being with another individual and viewing them as a whole person with a past and future, which is dictating where they are at in the present moment. A mentor is practiced in quickly learning where the individual is at in life and tailoring their words, teachings, and being to match them at their level.
It is a process of planting seeds of growth and change that may take years to develop but will support the individual when they need it the most. It is the guiding of an individual to believe in themselves to such a degree that they can become their best