I am so excited about this school! Having experience with Gabe, Fil, and Jamie, all I can say is that It is a dream team of people with practical knowledge that practice what they preach. The information these instructors have is incredible. Their concern for others and the extra effort they have given as mentors is a rarity. I am 38 years old and have just now witnessed people that practice what they preach. Attending this school will be more than a learning experience, it is going to be a door to a community and lifestyle that matters for our future. Thank you Gabe and Fil for your mentorship in my life. Thank you Jamie for the effort that you show to strangers to inspire them to live a richer life. You are amazing. If anyone has questions about the quality of the instructors please reach out to me. Raven's Roots is a learning experience that will be beyond anyone's expectations.
-Jamin Gerdes (former student)
Jamie has to be one of the most tenacious , persistent , and wise people I know. She emanates passion and infects everyone around her with motivation to keep working your craft and to follow your own path. It's said that "passion is caught, not taught." As a student and friend of Jamie's, I have caught the fire to work every day to be closer to the earth and its inhabitants. If you want to know what it means to live close to the land or survive in an adapting climate and wilderness, follow Jamie, she knows the way.
- Scott Dorsch (former student)
I feel extremely lucky to have crossed paths with Fil. He is an highly skilled naturalist and perceptive, supportive mentor. Being out in the field with him — paying attention to bird language, delving into a tracking mystery, sharing observations and questions — has transformed the way I experience the world. He is an extraordinary encyclopedia of ecological knowledge! And he has a gift for sharing that knowledge with others, not just handed out as facts, but through direct experience and open-ended exploration. I know that he will bring high-caliber teaching and deep care to the students at Raven’s Roots, as he did for me. They are in for a real treat!
-Joanna Wright (former student)
Gabe is one of the most committed and passionate naturalists I’ve ever met. He has a great depth of knowledge and enthusiasm that inspires and challenges his students to work hard and discover the natural world and themselves on a deeper level. Like a wise elder in a tribe he is a true and trusted leader who promotes teamwork, creativity and a real sense of belonging. Anyone who has the privilege of working and studying with Gabe will come away as a much better person.
-Becca Sharp (former student)
We’ve all heard renditions of sayings like, “don’t talk about it, be about it”, but while other people were boasting about book knowledge they had memorized, Jamie was off trying it for herself to see if and how it really worked. She was both my instructor and RA and somehow managed to pull off a balancing act of perpetual availability amidst ceaseless activity that I doubt I will ever quite master. When you needed her, you always knew it would be a short wait until her presence passed through the vicinity. But it was always either going to or coming from some ultra-productive form of self or circumstantial betterment: gardening, building and managing compost bins, foraging, bow making, tracking, improving her fire craft and kit (I’m talking about an average day, mind you, not the entire week it would take me to approach these tasks individually) all the while maintaining good communication and keeping up with her students. By the time I found out that she had modified her own engine to incorporate biodiesel I was sufficiently in awe of and inspired by this rare individual.
-Bethany Clayton (former student)
Gabe and Fil are two of the most driven naturalists I've ever met. The passion they both share about the natural world and spreading their knowledge of it is powerful and inspiring. Gabe's love of nature is nothing short of obvious, he is filled with a fire that can't be doused and when he teaches, the fire spreads to his students. In short, Gabe's knowledge and curiosity about the natural world is fierce and eye opening.
Fil is basically a walking naturalist library, and like any good library he's always looking for new knowledge to put on the shelf. His presence in the classroom or field is one of calm collectedness that is admirable and rare. On the occasion that the two teach together, the results are terrific. The new students at Raven's Roots couldn't have better mentors on their journey to becoming excellent naturalists.
-Mino Goss (former student)
Fil Tkaczyk has a certain special ability to balance just the right mix of instruction of the subject, and empathy for students. When you're taught by Fil, you can tell that he really cares about his students and is sensitive to each person's needs. This characteristic of his, combined with his abundant amount of knowledge of the natural world, turns him into a truly inspiring instructor.
-Kelly Darby (former student)
I was lucky enough to meet Jamie on a 3 day survival trip on a snowy weekend in the mountains. She was sporting an awesome bow she had made herself. She explained the qualities of the wood she used to make it and went into why not to use certain other types. She made some great deadfalls and an awesome fish trap. I can’t wait to sign up for the hunter gatherer course so i can learn some more.
-Luke Glennon (member of survival trip led by Jamie)
Passion lights a fire in the hearts of those who wish to embrace it. At Raven’s Roots, the staff is not only passionate, but are dedicated to building a sustainable community committed to cultivating a love for the land, and knowledge of how to embrace it. The core staff is comprised of a skilled group of naturalist, all specializing in different areas most dear to them.
Since studying under them, my love for nature has grown from simple appreciation of greenery to a full blown relationship. There is something very special about walking through the woods, knowing each tree by name, being able to confidently eat berries from a bush, and knowing the name of a bird by the song it sings. These teachers don’t just clock off at the end of the day, rather, any one of them can be found hanging around, answering questions, and helping students with any skills or projects they might need guidance with. They are not dedicated to a pay check, but to the advancement of a community that is sustainable and self sufficient. There’s no better place than Raven’s Roots to start cultivating your love and knowledge for the land we all share.
-Carly Benedict (former student)
Fil is an amazing naturalist. His knowledge of track and sign is great and something i aspire to. There is no one i recommend to learn track and sign from more than Fil. His passion and his kindness is unrivaled and it was a pure joy to learn from him.
Gabe has an incredible mind for permaculture, ethnobotany and survival. His skills are solid and he is a great mentor and teacher. His dedication to living the skills and sharing them is an incredible gift. His passion is strong as is his vision. If you want to learn how to reconnect with the natural world then you have come to the right place.
-Ian Lockwood (former student)
I met Filip Tkaczyk while a student at another wilderness school in western Washington. In addition, I had the privilege of assisting Filip on a research expedition down the west coast for his forthcoming book, "Tracks and Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians: A Guide to North American Species."
Filip was much more than a lead instructor. He quickly became (and has remained) a mentor who has changed the course of my life in profound ways. With his guidance, I was encouraged to push the edges of my technical knowledge and to explore and embrace my unique ways of knowing the natural world.
Filip brings a highly attuned empathic sense into his work with students and in the field. Combined with veteran experience as a tracker and an encyclopedic knowledge of ecological information, you'll find that Filip is capable of sensing and responding to both the technical aspects of learning as well as the much more subtle and intuitive. Beyond that, he is genuinely committed to your learning process and will travel as far with you as you are willing to go.
It is worth repeating that this is what makes Filip much more than an instructor. He is a guide and mentor of the highest caliber.
-Robert Mellinger (former student)
I can't say enough about Jamie Weaver. She is one of a very small number of individuals have put in the dirt time it takes to truly know the skills they teach. As such, she is effortlessly informative, hands-on, and always inspiring. Jamie has the patience, warmth, and gumption inherent to all amazing teachers.
-Jeremy Cobb (former student)
I first met Gabe when I traveled to WA state to attend a naturalist program, and got to know him well as the year went on. He has been one of the biggest influences for me on my path to becoming a naturalist, as well as being a mentor for all aspects of life. He opened up my hidden interest in teaching, and inspired me countless times, encouraging me to push my skills and always set challenges for myself. His energy fills you with confidence and excitement. As a teacher, Gabe is very open to different learning styles, and accommodating student needs. I always felt totally comfortable and safe on those enduring trips with Gabe looking out for everyone. As well as being extremely knowledgable, he teaches from a “real” and experiential point of view, as Gabe makes it a point to go on numerous survival trips throughout the year in all seasons, to practice solely herbal medicine, and furthering growing and preserving all his own food and being self reliant. He is extremely passionate and dedicated to his students and is always modeling respect for the natural world. He will show you how raw survival really is, encourage and mentor you, and pass on so much knowledge if you are willing to listen. He said to me when I first met him, “What you put into this program is what you get out of it” and he was 100% right.
-Jahk Kelly (former student)
Being with Fil is like having a sixth sense in the woods. In pitch black silence, he smells bears and a mushroom patch, hears june beetles mating in the grass. Fil is, truly, an extraordinary naturalist. He uses the flight pattern of crows to find hawks, spots a weasel by watching the body language of robins. He is kind, patient, and generous in sharing his knowledge. Learning with him is a genuine privilege.
-Brooke Nelson (former student)
Fil and Gabe are fantastic educators. To say they bring their passion to the class still falls short of experience. Fil is a library of knowledge. With the ability to transition from a lecture to field work and maintain the fluidity of question to answer, is a feat teachers strive decades for. Imagine walking into the field where a small pack and water are optimal. There isn't much room for a field guide. Bring a pencil and a note book and you will leave the field with a custom written field guide co authored by one of the most knowledgeable naturalists in the americas.
Gabe doesn't fall short of this in any fashion, He loves plants and he loves birds. This love shines in a passion that is highly infectious. It was a pleasure finding my interests under the tutelage of Gabe. He brought a new light to bird language, and shared his experience with us. Bird and plant walks always left me with a larger appreciation for a world I am begining to uncover.
-Aaron Morrision (former student)
Gabe is a very laid back teacher, coming from a peaceful place while being very passionate about what he teaches. As a result, you don't feel as though you're under any enormous pressure to learn, although you will be learning in every moment you spend with him. The extent of his knowledge and skills, along with his ability to convey them to others is truly astounding.
Fil has this rare, zen like presence, though when he gets to speak about and share any of his true passions, you can easily see in his face his overall love for nature and the joy that comes with sharing it with others. While humble about his accomplishments (like being a published author) he has no trouble sharing his wealth of knowledge and skills.
-Robert Wicks (former student)
Jamie Weaver is hands down the most incredible survivalist/naturalist I have had the pleasure to rough it with. Lots of people go to classes or like to be outside, but Jamie lives it. I have learned so much from her and will continue to. She is masterful from the use of traps, be they for fish or game, to hunting and stalking her prey using bows she hand crafted herself. I can't think of anyone Id rather have to survive with in any place or scenario. Her lifestyle and motivation to do whatever she sets her mind to do is beyond inspiring. Jamie does not simply survive she thrives and has the uncanny ability to clearly express whichever incredible skill she is showing you.
-Trent Harper (current student)
Gabe Garms is an inspiring ethnobotanist and one of my most influential mentors. In addition to being a deep well of natural knowledge, Gabe's ability to conform to the learning styles of his students sets him apart from 'the standard teacher'. Gabe has been instrumental in my growth as a naturalist.
Fil Tkaczyk is the most knowledgable naturalist I have met thus far, let alone had the opportunity to study under. His insight into the mysteries of our natural world inspire me to ask 'why' every single day. He is a committed and patient mentor; you can't help but learn a little something being around Fil.
-Matt Hale (former student)
There is rarely a teacher more committed than Gabe -- to both his students and his subjects. As a student of Gabe's, it was common for him to donate personal time and resources in order for his students to grow. He is constantly expanding his own knowledge, demonstrating a respect and passion for the earth that is nothing short of infectious.
Fil is an open book. If you have a question, he is there with an answer. But even more, he is able to patiently guide students towards questions they did not even think to ask. After studying under Fil, the natural world has become more complex and stunning than I could ever have imagined.
-Jenna Mallon (former student)