Re-Discovering Ourselves Through Nature – Reclaiming our True Heritage


The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz M.D. & Marion Ross PhD.) have had the opportunity to take both a Wild Edible and Medicinal Plant and a Survival Skills course in the mountains of North Carolina with Richard Cleveland, the Founder of The Earth School. They were both wonderful! Now taking a walk in nature is a totally different experience  and our awareness of  plants, trees, rocks and every aspect of Mother Nature has been integrated at a new level.

During the past 17 years Richard has taught nature awareness and survival skills to thousands of people of all ages. He is an avid outdoorsman, fishing guide, writer, public speaker and a self-trained Naturalist. Some have called him “The Upstate’s Survivorman.” He teaches children as well as Navy Seals nature awareness and  advanced self-reliance skills. Richard’s Vision for Earth School is to create an environment where people can learn, share and respect the many gifts of Nature to connect with their roots (Mother Earth) once again.

Re-Discovering Ourselves Through Nature – Reclaiming our True Heritage by Richard Cleveland

Having taught Survival skills for nearly 20 years, I still delight in watching people re-awaken as the learn their true connection with Nature and of course the Earth. Seeing someone creating their first “fire by friction,”or eating and enjoying newly discovered wild edibles is truly amazing. I feel blessed.

The very word “Survivalconjures up a wide variety of emotions from folks. Some think Survival skills are cool and others associate the word with eating bugs and experiencing a great deal of discomfort. The truth is not what most believe. Yes, learning Survival basics like shelter, water, fire and food can save your life…but the lessons are really much deeper than that. Survival is your birthright! Knowing how to take care of yourself is empowering indeed! Somewhere along our journey as a Global Society, we’ve gotten off track. We’ve become dependent on others for our very existence. Most of us couldn’t even name three plants in our own backyards. We’ve lost our connection to the very thing that sustained our Ancestors…our connection with Nature. Arguably, if our ancestors didn’t have that knowledge, we probably wouldn’t be here. Maybe it’s time for a homecoming?

I believe that when our roots are firmly planted in the soil, our foundations are solid and subsequently what we build from this foundation is naturally strong and lasting. Leaving this planet better than we found it is our responsibility as the stewards I believe we were meant to be. All our ancestors, like the Native Americans had deep physical, spiritual and emotional ties to the land. Material wealth had little value to them. Why would anyone want more than they needed? Their wealth was the knowledge they learned directly from the plants and animals. As a result they were always respectful, reverent and grateful. They lived in balance with the land, never taking more than they needed.

So how do we reclaim this balance? That’s the good news! It’s easier than you think. So many of the skills I teach have to do with the knowledge of wild plants…trees too:) We are surrounded by an abundance of wild food, medicine and fibers...all from plants, and all FREE! What a concept:)

Now I admit, identifying plants correctly can be a bit daunting and even frustrating at first, but don’t worry you’ll catch on. Here in Western North Carolina we still have several edible plants that are still available, but depending on where you live that may not be the case. Winter is here after all. SO, I suggest you start with identifying trees this Winter and work your way into your Spring wild edibles. I highly recommend “The Tree Identification Book” by W.D. Symonds. It’s very informative and has very clear photos. As far as wild edible plants…you really can’t go wrong with the Peterson’s Field Guides available at nearly every bookstore. Might want to pick up their Wildflower and Medicinal Plant guides as well. Always good to cross-reference! Positive ID is critical with wild edibles folks! NEVER put anything in your mouth that you’re not 100% percent certain about. Check with your local Health food store to learn about people guiding plant walks in your area too. Everyone has something to teach. If you only learned one plant or tree a week, by this time next year you’d be doing pretty well!

Happy Foraging…


**Richard is the founder and director of Earth School in Asheville, North Carolina. He has taught nature awareness and survival skills to thousands of people of all ages. He is an avid outdoorsman, fishing guide, writer, public speaker and a self-trained Naturalist.


*****The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.) are available for keynote talks, classes, events or for seminars (1/2 day or up to 2 day) on personal transformation, team-building, motivation, anger management, intuitive development, or collaboration for private groups, conferences, corporations or corporate events. Contact them at or find out more about them at

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