Most college students have no problem navigating Facebook or searching Google to find obscure homework answers. Unfortunately, these finely honed skills come at the expense of time spend outdoors.
Coyote Trails, a nonprofit organization out of Medford, aims to change that, offering a diverse set of classes that teach participants how to navigate a forest for shelter, explore the wild for natural and edible medicinal foods, track and trap small animals, start a fire, and much more.
“Practicing these skills has really given me a more balanced life,” said Morgan Mansker, an instructor at Coyote Trails. “I was spending too much time on my computer and indoors and being more involved in nature has really helped center myself.”
Coyote Trails was founded in 2003 by Joe Kreuzman and has grown to the point where they now have a center in Medford called the Coyote Trails’ Jefferson Nature Center. Their instructors teach without books or theories and use personal experience instead. Each instructor is required to go through “dirt-time” before they can teach: four whole seasons of living off of the land and using their knowledge of nature to survive.
“Awareness removes that fear of danger and it prepares you for the wilderness,” said Joe Kreuzman, the founder of Coyote Trails and an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont.
Kreuzman explained some departments at SOU are interested in moving forward with a for-credit tracking class, which has been offered at University of Vermont and has reached such popularity that the class is full every term it is taught.
Tracking is one of Kreuzman’s favorite classes at Coyote Trails. In the class students learn how to track certain animal’s prints, but because it is rare that the print is always clear, the person has to use a combination of science and art to deduce what animal the tracks come from.
“Tracking uses both sides of the brain, it’s like a deductive science,” said Kreuzman.
After learning how to track animals, participants can move onto a supplementary course like “Primitive Trapping,” and learn how to trap small mammals effectively and humanely using readily-available resources.
Trapping and tracking aren’t the only things taught at the Nature Center. One class on Apr. 14 teaches participants how to hunt with a stick.
The class is centered on one of the primitive skills of using a stick as a survival tool and for providing food. The class is tailored for people of any age and costs $15.
Coyote Trails’ website, www.coyotetrails.org, provides a list and details on all of the classes they are offering for the spring. Those interested can call 482-0513 to register for clas