Humans are hard-wired to the rhythms of the living, breathing natural world. Whether you call it neurobiology or spiritual connection, paying attention to what's happening on the landscape around us is what makes us who we are.
Many of us deeply want to belong to the land where we live— to cultivate a rich, intimate connection to our landscape that is both emotional and rational. The Naturalist Apprenticeship balances these two facets—the rational from honing our skills of observation and awareness, and the emotional from relationship-building, intention, and cultural practices such as gratitude, intention, and story.
This two-pronged approach is the basis for learning to belong on the land where we live. Without a deep connection to the greater-than-human world, our factual knowledge is shallow. But without concrete understanding of the lives of our wild neighbors, our emotional connection to our landscape may be just a projection. Join us as we learn concrete naturalist skills as well as forge a relationship with the living, breathing, animate world around us.
We'll start in winter, with an overview of journaling techniques, tree identification, and winter bird behavior. While the snow remains, we'll follow tracks and interpret mammal feeding and breeding behavior. Spring ephemerals will emerge, along with bird nesting and mating behaviors. Next, we'll watch trees leaf out, meadow plants start to bloom, and summer arrive in full. When fall arrives, we'll look at bird migration, animal preparations for winter, foliage change, and leaf drop.
When we end, you'll have watched in wonder at a full cycle of the seasons, and you'll be prepared to continue your naturalist practice in the future. Equally important, during our time interacting with the land and her inhabitants, you will have built a meaningful relationship with the animate world around us.
We meet one weekend a month from January through November, omitting September. There is additional mentoring time and optional homework between sessions. Most of our time will be spent in the field, and we'll be outside in almost all weather, walking up to several miles a day over varied and sometimes challenging terrain. We start around 9am on Saturday, and spend a long day in the field. Sunday is shorter, usually ending mid-afternoon. Please consider your level of physical fitness when registering.
2024 Naturalist Intensive Dates:
We'll meet one weekend a month from January to November, with no class in September.
Sep no class
Instructors: Lucian Avery and Jonathan Shapiro
$2,600. Enrollment is capped at 12 students—to reserve a spot, please contact me and submit a $250 non-refundable deposit. All Fox Paw classes are eligible for VSAC advancement grants. Contact me for more info, or check out www.vsac.org.
Payment plans are available, as well as limited financial aid and barter. If finances are a barrier for you, please contact me.
If you have questions, or for more information, please contact me at (802) 249-1463 or email@example.com
Connect to your habitat—learn wild edibles throughout the seasons!
This seven-month apprenticeship meets one day a month, and provides a strong foundation in field botany, plant ID, and wild edible harvesting and preparation. Each class will end with a shared wild food meal. Runs April through October.
$1100. Partial or full VSAC grant funding available to qualified VT residents. Payment plans and limited scholarships available.
2024 Foraging Apprenticeship dates:
Most of our time will be spent in the field, and we'll be outside in almost all weather, walking up to a mile over varied and sometimes challenging terrain. Please consider your level of fitness when registering.
Instructors: Lucian Avery and Jonathan Shapiro
Enrollment is capped at 12 students. To register, please contact me, and send a $200 non-refundable deposit (checks made out to Fox Paw School) to the below mailing address.
All Fox Paw Classes are VSAC eligible. Payment plans are availalbe, as well as listed financial aid and barter. If finances are a barrier or you, please contact me.
Winter Wildlife Tracking
Take a deep dive into what is arguably the oldest human skill—tracking. By learning to read the stories in the tracks of our wild kin, we learn their lives and become a part of the greater-than-human community. This weekend-long course provides a solid introduction and subtle details on the art and science of tracking. Trackers of any skill level are welcome.
Most of our time will be in the field, and we'll have ample opportunity to practice the skills we'll learn. We'll be outside in (almost) any weather, so come prepared to spend your day out on the wintry landscape.
Instructor: Jonathan Shapiro
March 9th-10th, 2024. Location: Hardwick and surrounding towns. Cost: $275. VSAC grant eligible, limited scholarships and barter available.
Please contact me with any questions. To register, contact me and send registration fees (checks made out to Fox Paw School, please) to the below mailing address.
and Tracking Class
We learn tracking best from other people—as Mark Elbroch says, "Tracking takes more than a lifetime to learn." This weekend long tracking class and evaluation is a unique, participative way to deepen your tracking knowledge, no matter your skill level.
Expect to spend two full days out on the land, looking at tracks and sign, and answering questions about who was here, and what they were doing. This test format is an excellent way to sharpen your observation skills and deepen your understanding of our wild kin on the land. And if you don't know the answer? Not to worry, we'll have plenty of time with evaluator Nate Harvey to discuss. The conversations after participant answers have been submitted is the richest part of this experience—it's here that you get to see how your process and observations led you to your conclusion, and match that up to what's on the ground. The atmosphere is engaging and supportive, and there is no outside pressure to achieve a certain score, although you can elect to try and earn a certificate if you'd like.
This evaluation system is administered by Tracker Certification North America (TCNA), using the Cybertracker Conservation system of certification. For more information about the system, and why it's called CyberTracker when this evaluation has nothing to do with computers, watch the TCNA storymap here.
July 13-14th, 2024. Location: Hardwick, VT, and surrounding areas. $375. Financial aid available through TCNA, applications due by march 15, 2024.
Please contact me with any questions. To register, contact me and send registration fees (checks made out to Fox Paw School) to the below mailing address.
Workshops & Custom Classes
The Fox Paw School can travel to you!
I'm available to present to your university class, student group, or just to you and your friends. I offer workshops ranging from tracking, to bird language, to skull interpretation, to pattern-based tree ID. We can also develop a custom class that focuses on your specific interests.
Contact me about rates or to discuss content for a ready-made or custom class.