How to select the program that's right for you
I'm a total beginner. Which program is right for me?
You have a few options: the Herbal Immersion Program, the Herbal Foundations Program, and Gardening for Medicine all start from the very beginning. Our students in those courses run the gamut from utter novice ("This is new and exciting territory!") to experienced health care practitioner ("I know my diagnostics, but I don't have a solid botanical materia medica") to seasoned naturalist ("I can identify these plants, but can they be used for anything?") to lifelong gardener ("Please just give me a reason to love these dandelions!"). We will tell you what we mean when we talk about infusions, tinctures, monoecious plants, and mucilaginous extracts. We're available for questions, and you'll find that your fellow students are also an amazing resource, too. Most of our shorter series, like Herbalism in the Home and Stress Less, are completely accessible to beginners, too.
Are you offering Arctos's intermediate program, Spreading Our Roots, in 2020?
We do not currently have plans to offer an intermediate program this year. Please check out some of our shorter series, which may appeal to intermediate herbalists. You can always contact us if you’d like to request a particular offering!
What is the difference between the Herbal Foundations Program and the Herbal Immersion Program?
In some ways, these courses share similarities: Both programs start from the beginning and elaborate on plants common in Northwest Oregon. They're suitable for beginners and for intermediate herbalists. They both follow spring buds through summer flowers to fall fruits, roots, and mushrooms and spend almost half of classroom time outdoors.
The Herbal Foundations Program has a schedule designed to accommodate folks who work Monday through Friday or who can access classes only on weekends. We cover all the fundamentals of herbalism, botany, wildcrafting, and medicine making in an intimate classroom setting. The homework assigned is experiential, designed to deepen relationships with plants, and does not take much time outside of class. The HFP meets on Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-4pm, twelve weekends for a total of 144 hours.
The Herbal Immersion Program, at 240 hours, has all that, plus room for a bit more: community guest teachers, a camping trip, and two full days of first responder skills all make an appearance. The class is the same size as the weekend group, but since it meets weekly, students usually get to know each other even better. As implied by the title, this class is more intensive, meeting 10am-4pm Wednesdays and Thursdays over twenty weeks, and both experiential homework and outside study is expected.
I love botany! Do you have any classes where we use our botanical identification skills to key out plants?
Indeed we do! Check out our Siskiyou Camping Trip (offered most years in late May/early June) or our Botanizing the Gorge series (offered in April). We will key the f--- out of some amazing, special plants! All of our longer programs teach botanical identification skills as well.
I've already taken an herbalism course. What do you have to offer me?
Good question. The answer? A lot! Since herbalism is a vibrant folk tradition, there are many approaches. Every botanist has different insights; every herbalist has different methods. We are big fans of gathering knowledge from different sources, learning in different ways, and covering the same material time and again. If you get five herbalists in a room, you'll probably get ten opinions as to how to handle an illness, make a plant medicine, or work with a client. Learn from at least a few different plant medicine lovers, and we guarantee that you'll be a better herbalist for it. We welcome you in both our introductory courses as well as our intermediate offerings.
How long have you been teaching?
Missy and Gradey started teaching together in 2006, offering workshops and medicinal plant hikes. In 2007, the Herbalism & Ecosystems program, a joint venture between both Gradey and Missy, began. That course eventually expanded to become the Herbal Foundations Program.
Before we started the Arctos School, Gradey was already a botany instructor, showing herbal newbies the ropes around plant identification. Missy had been leading a wide variety of workshops on first aid, civil rights, facilitation, and more since the 1990s. See Our Story for more on how we came to collaborate.
Why should I study with you?
Virtually every herbalism program has something important to offer its students. We encourage studying with different teachers; an herbal education is never complete, and a broad base of knowledge benefits us all. Even learning the 'basics' of Nettles or Calendula with different instructors will, for attentive students, yield further knowledge and even greater questions. Herbal and personal relationships are varied and dynamic.
That said, Arctos programs are about conveying pragmatic skills with the goals of connecting people with the land, connecting people with their community/ies, and subverting unjust systems for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable. These pragmatic skills can be put to use in everyday life: ethical wildcrafting for food and medicine; home medicine-making; cultivating plants and using weeds; practicing medic skills and using herbs for first aid. Our courses stress a reciprocity-based, conservative approach to harvesting wild plants and an enthusiastic endorsement of using common weeds as plant allies. We wear our politics on our sleeves, and we want to change the world. But we aren't the gatekeepers of transformational knowledge; we want to facilitate a collaborative process to create change.
About our Programs
I want to interview for one of the programs. What should I expect?
The interview is an informal meeting between the instructor (Gradey or Missy) and the prospective student. Don't worry about dressing up, preparing a résumé, or rehearsing a speech! We just want to outline our expectations of students, answer your questions about the program, and make sure that we're a good fit. Spoiler alert: We care about attendance, participation, and commitment.
What if I miss a class?
We always encourage students to learn from each other. If you miss a class, please catch up on the material covered with another student in the program before the next time the class meets. That could look like: your classmate leading a plant walk for you; reading your classmate's notes; coming up with a Q&A session with your classmate; making medicine together; and more. This facilitates community-building between herbalism students and also enhances learning opportunities for those willing to pass along knowledge to fellow plant lovers.
Do you have work-study positions?
We do not have any work-study positions, but we are always open to proposals for partial trade. If you or someone on your behalf has a professional skill or resources that you’d like to trade, please approach us with a specific proposal, and we will let you know if that is a service or item that we could use at this time. You’re welcome to pitch anything you have to offer: carpentry, bodywork, housecleaning, CSA shares, graphic design, videography, raw honey, etc. When we accept trade, it’s typically for 20-50% of the cost of a program, with the remainder paid with money.