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 year students and beyond.

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. The first Tuesday evening of each month all clans will meet together, in person, at the Whole Earth Nature School office. These monthly meetings will be an opportunity for students to share their learning and “dirt time” with other FOREST students so that the entire clan can learn from each individual’s effort. These meetings will also serve as planning sessions for upcoming excursions. Students will be responsible for initiating weekly calls with their mentors to discuss their progress in achieving their goals, and report on their independent learning. Group clans will also meet once a 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 2017-2018 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.

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.
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.


What are the times, locations and dates?

The new 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. FOREST students will:

  • initiate weekly phone mentoring support customized to your availability,
  • meet once per month for group mentoring and support at our downtown office on the first Tuesday evening,
  • meet additionally once per month for day-long field trips on the third Saturday (see below for locations),
  • camp overnight in clan groups every 3 months at different remote locations! (see below for details)

What does it cost?

A year of the FOREST Programs is only $147 per month ($1,323 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.

FOREST 2017-2018 Calendar

(Weekly phone calls are in addition to the schedule below.)

September 5, 2017: First FOREST Meeting. Also, mandatory Parent Training Night
September 23, 2017: Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge
October 3, 2017: Monthly Meeting
October 28-29, 2017 (Date changed): Field Trip: Central Oregon Shelter Overnight
November 7, 2017: Monthly Meeting
November 18, 2017: Field Trip: Fire Skills in the Cascade foothills
December 5th, 2017: Monthly Meeting
December 21st, 2017 (evening): Solstice Celebration
January 2nd, 2018: Monthly Meeting
January 20-21. 2018: Field Trip: Overnight at the Oregon Dunes
February 6, 2018: Monthly Meeting
February 17, 2018: Field Trip: Tracking in the snow
March 6, 2018: Monthly Meeting
March 17, 2018: Field Trip: TBD
April 3, 2018: Monthly Meeting
April 20-22: Field Trip: Three day overnight to the McKenzie River (Departs after school Friday)
May 1, 2018: Monthly Meeting
May 19, 2018: Final Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge