FOREST Program

FOREST Program

Jump to the FOREST Schedule
Eugene Summer CampsFriends Outdoors Reviving Earth Skills Together, also known as FOREST, is Whole Earth Nature School’s newest year-long nature mentorship program. FOREST is a student-driven initiative designed for kids who are dedicated to deepening their nature skills. The goal of FOREST is to build strong self-esteem, deepen student’s nature and survival skills, and nurture their leadership abilities. Our trained mentors will craft custom curriculum integrating student’s interests with existing learning objectives to create a unique experience for every participant. FOREST is designed to be a multi-year growth experience, with programs for second and third year students now available.

How it works:

As a team, students and mentors will create clans consisting of one mentor (Whole Earth Instructor) and four to five students. Clans will be created based on student’s interests, abilities and goals. Each student will be working on long-term and short-term projects for themselves and their clan. In the FOREST program, students and mentors will have a close working relationship. Mentors will schedule weekly meetings with their clan, in person, at Wayne Morse Family Farm. Meetings will be scheduled Monday-Friday with a small group meeting each day and each student only meeting once per week. These weekly meetings will be an opportunity for students to work on ongoing skills and projects. These meetings will also serve to support community between FOREST students as they connect with their peers on a regular basis. All FOREST students will also meet once per month for a full-day excursion dedicated to learning new skills and furthering existing projects and goals outdoors. And to make their learning experiences more epic, three times during the year we’ll turn a full-day excursion into an overnight excursion! Yup, we’ll spend a full weekend camping and exploring together! See the bottom of this page for a full 2018-2019 program calendar.

The FOREST program will nurture a true community where each clan member is known and valued for who they are. Our intention is to forge profound connections with peers, mentors, and the earth. We will grow capable, confident leaders who work to expand their skills and push their personal comfort edges. These abilities and experiences will be a strong foundation for growth in all aspects of life. We will build a community focused on the joys and challenges of engaging in authentic relationship with each other and with the land that sustains us. By building strong peer bonds in nature, FOREST students will develop a support network to foster a lifetime of outdoor learning. FOREST is going to be an amazing way to connect with the natural world in your very own community. We hope you join us!

FOREST Second Year
Students who have completed the first year FOREST program are eligible to enroll in the second year program. Second year students will participate in all meetings and field trips, along with first year students. During these trips, second year students will serve as role models for first year students while developing their own skills at a deeper level. Each second year student will be required to choose an area of focus from our four Learning Pathways. Mentors will support and guide second year students in working toward their level two and three achievements in the path of their choosing.

FOREST Third Year
Third year students will continue to participate in regular meetings and field trips. However, third year students will also be responsible for helping to plan several of the all-day excursions for the year. Our mentors will support students in planning for curriculum, logistics, safety, and equipment needs for our trips. The third year students will then work in peer teams to lead excursions under the supervision of our staff mentors.

Meet the Mentors

Soma Bhargo
Soma grew up in the big city of Los Angeles, dreaming of giant evergreens, mossy logs and wild, rocky rivers. She moved to Eugene in 2004 and jumped into the forest with both feet. She completed a 2 year Wildcrafting and Herbalism Apprenticeship program at Columbine’s School of Botanical Studies in 2006 and has since taken courses in Mushroom Biology and Environmental Education at the U of O. After dreaming of wolves, she began to study tracking with Wilderness Awareness School and later at Tracker’s Earth in Portland, where she completed a 9-month weekend immersion course. She’s been a nature guide at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and led old growth ecology walks for the McGowan Creek Science Project. She has also been a summer camp instructor at Northwest Youth Corps and Tracker’s Earth. During the course of her wanders she’s picked up some useful wilderness survival skills too. Soma is always looking to grow her understanding of the interconnected web of nature, and loves to share what she’s learned with children and adults alike. When not exploring wild places, you can find Soma working as a massage therapist and yoga teacher, crafting, or playing in the garden.
Alex Holdaway, Intstructor
Alex spent his childhood catching fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, and lizards in the wilderness of Greece. As a young adult, he frequently returned to the Greek forests and mountains to follow the trails of majestic bears, wild boar, wolves, and jackals, often experiencing close encounters that sparked his intense passion for tracking.
In 2009, he attended a nine-month wilderness immersion program with Alderleaf Wilderness College, where he studied bushcraft, ornithology, tracking, and nature awareness. During the program, he earned a Level II certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cyber Tracker International. Soon after, he moved to Portland and attended another nine-month wilderness immersion program, this time with Trackers Earth. For the next five years, Alex spent his time leading outdoor programs for children at Trackers Earth, and mentoring high schoolers and sixth-graders at Outdoor School in Vernonia, Oregon. This is his third year living in Eugene, and he is incredibly grateful to have found the Whole Earth community. Learning ancestral skills and sharing them with others are some of his greatest passions, in addition to nature photography, wood sculpting, bowmaking, fletching, and fiber arts. Nowadays, you’ll most likely find him in the woods with his camera around his neck, eagerly following the freshest animal trail. If you ever want to find Alex, just follow the trail of woodchips.
Alicia KristenAlicia “Foxfire” Kristen
Long ago, a young girl put on her best adventuring gear. She had read about travelers, role-played as an elven ranger, and written stories of wilderness heroics. Hair braided and backpack on her back full of a bug-collector’s gear, now was her time to explore the wilds and reclaim the forests from litter and pollution. As a young woman, this journey would take her far beyond New England’s forests. She sought waterfalls hidden in the cliffs with the shamans of Tepoztlán, she sang ancient songs for rain and sun with the pedagogical descendants of Ingwe, she made decoctions of nutritious herbs she’d never before heard of, and she tasted the wild foods of Shenandoah’s sweet hills. During these experiences, she began to have a vision for the kind of community that she wanted to be a part of: a community with nature, mentoring, and rich culture at its core. She also began to hear a clear calling for her to travel to Eugene, Oregon. The projects and goals have matured, but this young woman is still in many ways the same young adventurer—, collecting specimens, journaling, writing novels, role-playing, biking, raising animals, playing in the dirt, and enjoying board games with friends. The difference is that now she can make fire by friction, stealth silently through wineberry brambles, make berry baskets from bark, and lead youth on adventures she could only dream about as a young girl. Alicia has an MS in Environmental Studies and Public Folklore.
Terance MacKenzieTerance MacKenzie
Terance was raised in Coburg, Oregon. He graduated from the Northwest Youth Corps Outdoor high school. While with the Youth Corps he worked with crews on a variety of conservation projects all over Oregon and Washington building trails plus restoring habitat for animals and plants. His family taught him to love the forest and everything in it while helping him learn how to identify plants and mushrooms, how to hunt and fish and most important how to have fun and get muddy. Terance holds many titles at Whole Earth Nature School, such as Head Ogreseer, and Director of Harrowing Team Building Activities. He specializes in creating unique and challenging adventures for students. Terance also has a strong focus on teaching leadership and excels in pushing kids to live up to their full potential. Terance is the Co-Creator of the FOREST program. He is Whole Earth Nature School’s longest serving instructor and has been with our organization since 2008.
Tim Warren, Instructor
Tim spent his formative years exploring the dunes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, romping through the marshes and climbing trees. He loves camping and playing in the wilderness. While in the Boy Scouts of America, he learned the basics of how to be in the wild; learning knots, fire structure and tending. Tim volunteered at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve cleaning up beaches, mapping and discovering new trails, making trail markers, and care tending the facilities. Tim developed a passion for sharing his nature connection with others while working at the Museum of Natural History in Brewster, tending the aquariums and learning the local species of birds. Seeing the people’s expressions when learning about each animal or local lore, he noticed how important it is to include nature in our lives. Tim loves hiking, wood carving, learning primitive skills and teaching in the woods, passing on his excitement and curiosity of the natural world! Tim is driven by the desire to inspire the next generation to connect with the woods.


What are the times, locations and dates?

The FOREST program is a nine-month nature program which will begin the first week of September, and is designed for middle and high school students. There will be a program kick-off meeting for students and parents on September 15th at Wayne Morse Family Farm from 1-4pm. Weekly meetings will happen Monday-Friday and we will work together with you to find which day of the week works best for you.
FOREST students will:

  • Attend weekly clan meetings (6-8pm on a weekday)
  • Meet additionally once per month for day-long field trips on the second or third Saturday (see below for locations),
  • Camp overnight every 3 months at different remote locations! (see below for details)

What does it cost?

A year of the FOREST Programs is only $177 per month ($1,593.00 for the year). We have worked hard to keep the cost of this mentoring experience low to make it accessible to as many students as possible. Scholarships are available. Scholarship applications received by August 25th will be given priority consideration.

FOREST 2018-2019 Calendar

September 15, 2018: First FOREST Meeting (and parent orientation). Hendricks Park 1-4pm.
September 22, 2018: Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge
October 13-14 OR 20-21, 2018: Field Trip: Central Oregon Shelter Overnight
November 10 OR 17, 2018: Field Trip: Student planned
December 22nd, 2018 (evening): Solstice Celebration
January 12 OR 19. 2019: Field Trip: Student planned
February 9-10 OR 16-17, 2019: Field Trip: Snowshoe overnight
March 9 OR 16, 2019: Field Trip: Student planned
April 12-14: Field Trip: Three day overnight to the Oregon Dunes (Departs after school Friday)
May 11, 2019: Final Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge