My work with youth in Nature is founded upon the 8 Shields concept of Cultural Mentoring, whose roots extend into Apache “Coyote Teaching” (as shared by Tom Brown Junior from ‘Grandfather Stalking Wolf’) to Lakota wisdom from Gilbert Walking Bull, and Peacemaking from Jake Swamp…and the visions and commitments of Ingwe weaving Akamba tracking and nature connection to western youth. From these “elders”comes the wisdom of Jon Young and the 8-Shields model, which when explored layer by layer provides a framework for Deep Nature Connection, Regenerative Cultural Practices, and Indicators of Awareness. This journey of Nature Connection goes far beyond cultivating naturalist and ecological intelligences and honors the social and emotional intelligence that is involved with “remembering” what it means to be fully human.
The form this all takes is small ratio mentoring on the land, guiding curiosity, challenging awareness, and having lots of fun, creating good memories. From handling lizards and snakes to tracking river otter, opportunities for lasting connection go beyond “environmental education” into cultural regeneration and earth celebration.