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The School Of The Forest Podcast
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The School Of The Forest Podcast

Author: Christopher Russell

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School Of The Forest is a New England based, immersion-style outdoor education program based in Vermont and Maine. In our podcast, we aim to bring you voices from craftspeople, guides, biologists, and anyone else with a passion for outdoor living.
30 Episodes
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In this episode, I'm joined by a good friend, and former student, Adam Lougee who runs a sister program to SOTF in New Hampshire. Adam was a Student at Jack Mountain in my early years as an instructor there and has since gone on to lead education programs all over New England. His program, First Magnitude is getting ready to hit the ground running with a 40+ acre piece of property in New Hampshire. In this episode, Adam and I get down into the nitty-gritty of challenges to anyone looking to break into this field and talk about the value of community and the myth of the rugged individual (You folks may have noticed a trend with this topic coming up in conversation. We certainly have) and a lot more. Great conversation, hope you enjoy it. First Magnitude Wilderness ProgramsFirst Magnitude InstagramF.O.R.E.S.T. Program - Vermont Huts AssociationSummer Guided Discoveries | Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (nhnature.org)School Of The Forest Program Calendar
Glad to be back after a short break, Really excited for this podcast to go live since it'll allow me to announce our latest course offering. I sat down with Rick Swain to talk about his business "The Scroll", a SOLO certified wilderness medicine training program. Rick was a student of ours last year and has helped out on other programs since then. It was a pleasure to talk to him about why his twenty plus years of real-world field experience makes the programs he's offering different than others you might find. Great chat, looking forward to seeing some of you on this program.  We’re partnering with The Scroll to offer a wilderness first aid certification course. Having wilderness first aid training is an important aspect of spending time in the backcountry, and Rick is a highly trained medical professional with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with students.SOTF's Solo Certified Wilderness First Aid Course The Scroll (Ricks Website)
Welcome, This episode we're joined by Kathleen White and Steve Shriner, members of the Friends Of The West River Trail, an organization that was founded to create accessible nature trails here in southern Vermont. The goal of the organization is to create a contiguous trail system that connects the towns in the west river valley of Vermont, and provide everyone in that area with access to the natural world. During our chat, we cover the founding of the organization, some of the experiences we've had while recreating on the trail system and the river that runs along it, the ecology of the river, and the varied biomes that people can interact with while walking the trail. It was a great conversation about an incredible organization that's doing the work of making the outdoors accessible to everyone, no matter their ability and experience in the natural world. Friends Of The West River TrailGet In Touch About Volunteer Opportunities With The West River TrailWRT FacebookSOTF's Programs
Welcome,This is the second half of my conversation with Murphy Robinson of Mountainsong Expeditions, and we jump into talking about the guided hunts that Murphy Facilitates for women and marginalized genders, the myth of the "lone hunter", and the value of a good camp cook. This whole conversation was a joy, and the perspectives Murphy brings to the guiding/outdoor education community are really valuable.  Thanks again to Murphy for joining us, and if you haven't yet, go check out the programs offered by Mountainsong in the links below. Murphy's ProgramsMurphy's Hunting e-courseMurphy's PodcastWritings from Murphy About Cultural Appropriation
Welcome, In this episode, I'm joined by Murphy Robinson, who runs Mountainsong Expeditions here in Vermont. Murphy and I talk about how they first got involved in working as a guide, what drew them to start Mountainsong, and how that's developed since. We also touch on the culture of hunting as it exists in modern North America, and how the programs at mountainsong offer a different approach for new hunters, specifically women, and marginalized genders, that they wouldn't be able to find in a traditional hunters education course. We also touch on the issues of cultural appropriation in the outdoor industry, and a lot more. The second half of our conversation will be live next week, and we talk about the specifics of Murphy's guided hunting expeditions, and a lot more, so stay tuned. Murphy's ProgramsMurphy's Hunting e-courseMurphy's PodcastWritings from Murphy About Cultural Appropriation
Welcome to the last, and my favorite piece of my conversation with Bob Henderson. Bob and I talk about a mutual admiration for Arne Naess, and his "anti-expedition" to nepal, and how that sort of attitude to the outdoors changes the way people enjoy their time in nature. We go on to chat about Bob's plans to continue that anti expedition with his own trip to Nepal, and I've got to say it sounds like one of the most rewarding and inspriring undertakings I've heard of in a while. Thanks again to Bob for coming on. Bob's WebsiteBob's Upcoming Book And Other WritingNature First; Outdoor Life The Friluftsliv Way (This Link is For Amazon, you can also contact Bob directly to order a copy if Amazon isn't for you)Wisdom In The Open AirSOTF's Friluftsliv Program
We're joined again this week by Bob Henderson, as we pick up our conversation from last week. In this section, Bob and I chat about his time in Norway, and some of the cultural differences he saw that influenced his approach to taking students into the outdoors.  Bob shares a lot of great insights and stories from his time in the bush, and it was a pleasure to chat with him. Bob is a writer, guide, and outdoor educator. Bob is the Editor and author of "Nature First; Outdoor Life The Friluftsliv Way". This book is one of the cornerstones of my career and style as a guide and educator, and getting the chance to pick Bob's brain about how he discovered friluftsliv and how it shaped his approach to guiding and "building an ambiance" for trips was an absolute pleasure. This is the second of three episodes that came of my conversation with Bob, so be sure to stay tuned for the other last episodes next week, where we chat about Arne Naess' Anti Expedition in Nepal, how we've seen the philosophy of friluftlsiv create change in students, and a whole lot more. Bob's WebsiteBob's Upcoming Book And Other WritingNature First; Outdoor Life The Friluftsliv Way (This Link is For Amazon, you can also contact Bob directly to order a copy if Amazon isn't for you)Wisdom In The Open AirSOTF's Friluftsliv Program
Welcome to the school of the forest podcast. This week we're joined by a really exciting guest, Bob Henderson. I was a little stars truck during this conversation, as Bob's work was crucial in creating the Friluftsliv year long program, and remains a huge influence on my guiding style, philosophy about experiential education and approach to spending time in the outdoors.Bob is a writer, guide and outdoor educator. Bob is the Editor and author of "Nature First; Outdoor Life The Friluftsliv Way". This book is one of the cornerstones of my career and style as a guide and educator, and getting the chance to pick Bob's brain about how he discovered friluftsliv and how it shaped his approach to guiding and "building an ambiance" for trips was an absolute pleasure. In this episode we talk about what friluftsliv is, how Bob discovered the concept and how well it meshed with the style he'd already started to build as a young guide and educator. This is the first of three episodes that came of my conversation with Bob, so be sure to stayed tuned for the other two episodes, where we chat about Arne Naess' Anti Expedition in Nepal, how we've seen the philosophy of friluftlsiv create change in students, and a whole lot more. Bob's WebsiteBob's Upcoming Book And Other WritingNature First; Outdoor Life The Friluftsliv Way (This Link is For Amazon, you can also contact Bob directly to order a copy if Amazon isn't for you)Wisdom In The Open AirSOTF's Friluftsliv Program
Welcome back. This is the second half of my chat with Willa Moore. In the first half, we discussed how she got involved in a life lived outdoors and developed a passion for basket making and hide tanning. In this second episode, we have a really compelling conversation about some of the negative sides of the American outdoor industry, ranging from representation and accessibility, to a need for a more welcoming and caring community during long term wilderness experiences, instead of the current "rugged individual" stereotype that's become pervasive in many outdoor pursuits. I learned a lot, chatting with Willa, and really enjoyed hearing her perspective on how we in the outdoor industry can create a more welcoming environment for people who're interested in getting started or taking part in this lifestyle. I hope you all get as much out of it as I did. Thanks for listening. Willa's Instagram
Welcome to Episode 21 We're joined this time by basket weaver and hide tanner Willa Moore. Willa and I jump right into the first half of this conversation talking about her shift from growing up in new york city, to now living in Maine and teaching things like basketry and hide tanning, and how those practices foster a reverence for the natural world.  We also talk about the value of taking your time to do something and paying attention to the materials you're working with as opposed to knocking out projects left and right and not learning anything real about the process. Thanks for listening, and keep an eye out for the second half of our conversation next week.Willa's Instagram 
We're joined today by taxidermist, artist, and off-grid homesteader Sarah Bartell.We chat about how we first crossed paths back in 2015 as part of the "vulture culture" movement online, their work with wolf/dog hybrids, time in Africa on Discovery's "Naked and Afraid", and their work as a taxidermy artist. We had a lot of fun talking about the challenges that come with off-grid living, the joys of being alone outdoors, and a whole lot more. Sarah is a pretty inspiring person and has built a life around their passion for outdoor living and being a part of the cycles of the natural world. If you enjoy the show you should definitely check out their work at the links below, and if you see their stall at any of the markets she frequents in the warmer months make sure to see what's on offer. Naturepunk (Instagram)Sarah's Facebook pageSchool Of The Forest's website
In the second half of my conversation with Tom we get into the nitty-gritty of the natural world influencing art, the value of going out and being alone in the wilderness, and how that experience should be framed for greater results. This portion of the conversation references the first half fairly often, so if you haven't listened to the first half I recommend doing that first. This conversation touched on a lot of topics that are important to SOTF's educational philosophy and it was an absolute pleasure to talk with Tom about his plans for future wilderness fast programs he'll be running. Thanks for listening. Tom's Website"The Worship Of Place" PoemHedgespoken PressThe Feral Angels Of Poetry, Tom's online writing, and poetry workshopsTrickster Makes This World 
This is the first of a two-part episode in which I'm joined by poet and part-owner of Hedgespoken Press, Tom Hirons. Tom lives in southern England and while not a nature poet, his work is influenced heavily by the natural world and his experiences in it. In the first of the episodes, we talk about how Tom first started writing poetry, the incredible learning experience that being an educator can be, our thoughts about the merits of finding time in nature even if you don't live in "wild" places and the value of spending time in the natural world as a way to ground yourself in this "Mad epoch" as Tom eloquently puts it. This was an incredibly captivating conversation for me, and I'm glad to be releasing it as a two-part episode, rather than cutting it up into a single shorter one. Look for the second part soon, where we talk about modern rites of passage, the merits of spending structured solo time in nature, and Tom's plans for future guided fasting trips in Wales.  I hope you enjoy the show, and that you'll check out all of Tom and Hedgespoken Press's offerings at the links below. Tom's Website"The Worship Of Place" PoemHedgespoken PressThe Feral Angels Of Poetry, Tom's online writing, and poetry workshops
We're joined on this episode by the incredible Steve Wood. Steve works as a zoologist and runs an online entity known as "The Backyard Zoologist" which he uses to educate people all over the world about the vast, complex ecosystem that exists right outside of most people's backdoors. We had a great conversation about that project, how he got into zoology later in life after years of working in health care and social services doing some pretty incredible work with infectious diseases such as the HIV/Aids epidemic, and how that colored his approach to conservation.  We also chat about the value of knowing local ecology, and how it connects us better to the place we live in a tangible, caring way. That approach means that taking care of the land becomes a visceral thing for people, rather than an abstract one, and we could have talked about that topic for hours. Awesome conversation, with a really passionate educator. Hope you enjoy the podcast as much as we enjoyed recording it. Links; Backyard ZoologyThe Wildlife Blogger CrowdConnections With Nature BookSchool Of The Forest's Family Bushcraft WeekSchool Of The Forest's Friluftsliv Program
In this episode,  I'm joined by Kyle Lapointe. Kyle is a leading member of the Vermont chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and works as an emergency medical technician in the New England area, working with the DHART (Dartmouth Hitchcock Advance Response Team), as well as living on a working homestead in southern Vermont.Kyle and I discuss the current goings-on of the Vermont and New England branches of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers organization. We chat a bit about the projects they have going to maintain and help people more easily enjoy wilderness management areas, the value of finding a community that recreates in the outdoors the same way as you, and a whole lot more.We recorded this over zoom, while both of us had relatively slow internet connections, so apologies for any issues with the audio.  Links:Backcountry Hunters and AnglersNew England Chapters of BHADhart ProgramSOTF's Family Bushcraft Week
We're joined today by Andy Hartman, the founder and lead guide of "New Treks" a colorado based outdoor education and guide service for kids and their families in the Denver area. They're particularly focused on helping out families that maybe wouldn't have the resources to recreate outdoors otherwise. We talk a little bit about how Andy and I met when he was a student on a Jack Mountain Bushcraft Semester, the value of young people getting outdoors early in life, and how important it is for people to have local outdoor experiences, instead of feeling that only remote and "Extreme" locations or experiences have value. Andy has been a good friend, and occasional guiding colleague of mine for a while now, and it's great to see his expertise and passion getting passed on to young people who might not have the opportunity without his program.New Treks WebsiteNew Treks InstagramNew Treks FacebookSchool Of The Forest Family WeekJack Mountain Bushcraft Semester
We're joined today by Mark Lesniak Nora Gordan, two of the first participants in our Friluftsliv Yearlong program in Vermont. Mark and Nora share a little bit about their experiences over the last year as participants in the program, talking about their favorite and least favorite aspects of the course, and reminisce about our time on the Aroostook River in Northern Maine for our final trip of the course. It was a pleasure working with them for the last year, and I couldn't have asked for better, or more patient students to be part of the first yearlong program at our campus in southern Vermont. For more information about the Friluftsliv program, and our other course offerings, check the links below. Friluftsliv ProgramWinter Open Fire Overnight DocumentaryJack Mountain Bushcraft PodcastSchool Of The Forest Website
This episode features our first returning guest. Mike Clough from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum is back to talk about the newest edition to the museum's educational animals. There are now live Virginia Opposum's at the museum, and they're part of a pilot program for the state of Vermont, exploring the possibilities of museums and nature centers keeping nonreleasable native mammals for educational purposes. Mike and I talk about the reasoning behind the experiment, how the Opossums ended up in our care, and a whole lot of interesting ecology as well. We also get into the benefits of live animal interactions for education and work going into expanding the museum in the future. It was a great conversation, I hope you enjoy it. Links;Southern Vermont Natural History MuseumBlog Post About The Opossums
In this episode we hear a little bit from my friend Paul Sveum. Paul was my instructor at Jack Mountain Bushcraft School five years ago and has a ton of experience with outdoor living skills, and flyfishing in particular. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide licensed by the state in the recreation and fishing categories. He has guided extended canoeing, backpacking, and snowshoeing trips in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine in a variety of areas including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, as well as numerous other locations off the beaten path. He has also guided numerous overnight trips focusing on bushcraft, survival, and local naturalist studies around the South shore of Lake Superior. We had a great chat about ecology, and how learning more about the plant and animal life around you makes you a more effective and aware outdoorsperson. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as we enjoyed recording it.  Full disclosure, Paul and I were joined by his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter for this recording, and she makes a few unexpected appearances. Links;Pauls Website/BlogJohn Gierach's website"The Gorrilla Experiment"
In this episode, we chat with Jenna Rozelle. Jenna is a  homesteader, professional forager, and member of Back Country Hunters and Anglers. Through all of her work she aims to bring people to a place of greater understanding about the ecosystems they inhabit, and as we discuss in the podcast, brings a sense of art and poetry to these pursuits. Jenna also works as an educator, running wild food walks, and consulting with individuals and restaurants on how to bring more locally gathered wild food into their everyday lives and businesses. We covered a lot of interesting topics, and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Links; Jenna's WebsiteJenna's Outdoors Inspired PoetryArthur Haine's WebsiteBack Country Hunters And AnglersBoar Cave Painting
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