Instructors

David Holladay

Widely regarded as one of the country’s foremost educators in Stone Age living skills, David is a frequent lecturer, author, and consultant on primitive technologies, edible/medicinal plants, and pre-Columbian culture. He served for 18 years as head instructor at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School and was education director of Anasazi, a wilderness program for teens. David has served as a consultant for products such as Cast Away, Survivorman, Man vs. Wild, Road Rules, and numerous others, and was most recently featured on No Man’s Land, a History Channel production.

Ben Homer

Ben Homer is a true Jack of all trades! He loves to create with his hands things of functional value with an artistic flare. Ben Homer was raised by a mother who walked with Larry Dean Olsen in the late sixties. She gave him his first tastes of primitive skills as a young boy ” younger then ten “. He fell in love with the thought of growing up and disappearing into the woods never to be heard of again. From that young age he has practiced a variety of homesteading skills. Candles, soap, and “the Buffalo ” “the native american shopping mall”, where skills his mother would teach in his school classes. As he grew into a young man he fell in love with building he has spent a lot of time building, he also has skills in steel fab,mechanics, agriculture, commercial bee keeping, production wood works, historical restoration, furniture building, and repurposing old into new …just to name a few! He is also well know for his witty story telling and his lyrical genius. He has a love for animal totems and has taught ” ways to be guided by the animal spirit in nature “. He is a fast learner and picked up many great skills from the elders since he accidentally found Rabbitstick in 2010 … ” he thought he was the only one on the planet “. Since finding his tribe he has spent much time with great elders like David Holiday, Terry Cramer, Lota Clarke, and many others. He has a love for and a great desire to learn all the skills. This year he will be teaching stacker knife handles, and be reading some animal medicine for those who are in need of that. Please bring your tang knife blades or we will have some for sale too! Let’s make something awesome together!

Scott Ezzell

I discovered primitive skills at my first Rabbitstick in 2014 and have been to 10 more gatherings since then. I attended a Permaculture Design Course in 2015, a Holistic (Grazing) Management course in 2017, and am focused on continuing to develop my self reliance skills. I have also attended the Survival and Tracking Intensives at Earth Native Wilderness School in Bastrop, TX. I was a survival skills instructor for teenagers at summer camp at Hills of Milk and Honey Farm in Dripping Springs, TX in 2018. My farm is Prairie Haven near Venus, TX and is the venue for SkyEarth Primitive Skills Gathering.

 

Scott Wright

Scott Wright is an entrepreneur and mentor with SWP Enterprises, LLC. As Co-Founder, Wright is committed to leading visionary thought into the world through educational and mentoring solutions that create meaningful impact by bringing about change to the way people view and interact with the world of today. By focusing on the mind and the heart, Wright creates an experience on powerful, unseen principles that underline the human experience and one’s individual capacity for insight into their own unique talents and capacities.

Mr. Wright is also an active founding partner in The Sunflower Circle (an educational company) dedicated to innovative and engaging conversations creating mindfulness and sacred space in our daily lives by connecting to nature in activities and practices. Regardless of occupation or age, The Sunflower Circle fosters experiences that cultivate purpose and meaning in our lives while dealing with daily stress and anxiety.

As an entrepreneur, Wright has become a respected consultant providing coaching to a number of organizations to facilitate advancement during critical stages of growth and change.

Wright is an accomplished photographer with an active social community of 27K+. Recently, Wright participated in a meaningful global leadership discussion concerning consciousness hosted by the Society of Leadership Fellows, St. George’s House, Windsor Castle.

Mr. Wright holds a BA degree in Marketing from Utah State University and lives with his wife and business partner, LaRae Wright in Bountiful, Utah. At the Fire to Fire gathering, Scott is planning to teach classes on mindfulness, and how to use Nature as your guide in life. The setting for this event is a perfect backdrop to experience Mother Nature in all her beauty. His classes incorporate the use of music, smudging, and being present to find your inner guide. Possible topics include, Sacred Plants, Music, Sunflowers, Nature’s Symbolism, and our connection to all that is. Come join and bring your own vision of how you see the World.

Kl Kayenta

My desire to make anasazi pottery started with my interest in primitive and survival skills. I love the fact that you can go into the wild with nothing and get all you need to survive and even flourish from the earth. The idea that you can go out and dig up some “dirt”, shape it, paint it and fire it all using only materials found in nature is amazing to me.

I love the outdoors and going on adventures, camping and hiking, campfires with friends, running, playing soccer, and wilderness skills. I love the Anasazi culture, and I especially love their pottery. I really enjoy travelling and visiting the many ruins and museums all over the American Southwest.

Hal Farneman

Hal has always had a fascination with fire. He made his first friction fire at age 15 when demonstrating Bow Drill Fire techniques for a high school class. He didn’t think he would actually get fire, so when the flames appeared in the nest he immediately threw it into the waste basket, which, unfortunately, was full of papers. In spite of the resulting fire “drill,” he still got an A for his demonstration. His first hand drill fire was at Wintercount almost 20 years ago. He also entered the first annual (and only) Ernest Thompson Seton bow drill contest at Rabbitstick in about 2004. He entered just to be able to observe the other contestants who were very proficient at fire making. To his great surprise, he won the contest! Hal lives with his wife, Cat, (herbalist) in their off-grid cabin in Spring City, Utah where he gets to practice his fire making skills on a daily basis to keep the wood stove going during the cold months. Over the years he has learned many techniques which he loves to share at every opportunity. At Fire to Fire Hal will be teaching friction fire making techniques, including hand drill, bow drill and flint and steel.

 

Hugh Vail

I contract out with wellness centers and retreat centers to help individuals find purpose in their suffering through the similarities of equine therapy. I only use wild horses that I adopt from the BLM (only legal gov entity that adopts mustangs).

The core of my curriculum focuses in on developing the 6 Virtues and 24 Character Strengths of Positive Psychology.

When I’m not working with wellness centers/retreats, I do individual and group sessions at my little horse ranch in Draper, Utah.

Denny Coombs

I love sharing my knowledge and helping people. I started my pursuit of another path, another way, after my youngest daughter was born. She was born with Spina Bifida. We ran into a problem when she started getting sick, the doctors kept giving her different antibiotics, she was becoming resistant to the antibiotics, it came to the point where only 2 IV meds would work. I kept thinking there has to be another way to help her, to fight off the infections/illness. This search lead me to the path of plants. I have taken many classes and courses to learn how to turn the plant into an oil, salve, lotion, tincture, tea, etc. I am able to use the end product to help heal my family.

 

Mikhail Merkurieff

Mikhail Merkurieff is a student of indigenous living skills. Originally from Puerto Rico with family lines going back to Europe and Russia he’s developed a keen fascination and appreciation for culture and the methods people from all over the world have employed to thrive in their environment. He especially seeks out the science behind primitive skills and has created a business by building upon that science to create outdoor gear. He is the owner of Merkwares and the inventor of the Emberlit Stove among other things.

Mikhail is also a VFX artist and animator. In his opinion so many primitive crafts are a wonderful marriage of practicality and beauty. There is art and sublime sophistication in even the simplest stone tool. He feels that these primitive living skills connect the generations of the past to those of the present and future and loves nothing more than to share what he has learned.

Greg Nunn

Greg is recognized worldwide as an outstanding flintknapper and stone tool specialist, and has worked in the field of archaeology his entire career. He has conducted lithic analysis, field survey, and excavations; all with only a high school diploma. Greg is a devout flintknapper of 38 years, and proprietor of Paleo Technologies, www.gregnunnflintworks.com . He has authored several ground breaking papers on lithic reduction, and has produced the most advanced comprehensive informative flintknapping video to date, (“Replicating the Type IC Danish Dagger”).

Greg has been involved with many documentaries as consultant and prop designer. These productions include the Smithsonian institute’s Imax production “First Americans,” the History Channel, Warrior Channel, Discovery Channel, Nova, I Cave Man, and several others that he has lost track of.

Other skill sets include the following: tracker, hunter, archer, marksman, river guide, hide tanner, meat processer, (stone and modern tools) native plant enthusiast, rock collector, general all around woodsman, master gardener, and jokester.

Greg is a resident of Castle Valley, Utah, and has retired from full time flint knapping. He is now the proprietor of “Nunn Better Meats & Jerky Products,” and “Nunn Better Farms,” growing highly sought after organic carrots, garlic and specialty chili pasilla. He lives with his wife Karen, and currently several wild turkeys.

Tara Jensen

Tara is an Energy Kinisiologiest.  She started her studies in 2013 with Susan McCrossin (Crossinology) in Boulder Colorado.  Since then, she has taken classes to learn various methods of Energy Kinesiology, such as the work of Ron Wayman (Empowerlife Kinisilogy), Charles Krebs (LEAP), and Hugo Tobar (Neuro Energitic Kinisilogy).  She specializes in emotional resolution and learning disabilities.

 

Energy Kinesiology is a non-invasive, holistic approach to health and well-being. Our body’s innate tendency is to be well and healthy.  Energy Kinesiologists use a biofeedback system called muscle monitoring to discover areas of stress/imbalance in the body, as well as the in the mind and energy systems, and identifies ways to bring you back to a healthy balance.

Practitioners do not treat or diagnose, but rather combine the muscle monitoring with various modalities to reduce stress and pain.  In this way, it opens the door to optimum health and well-being.

Jennifer Pate

Jen is a homemaker in the style of our great grandmothers. Ever since she was a child, she has been a “do-it-herself-er”. At the age of 4 she learned to stitch with a needle and thread and has been adding all kinds of skills and crafts ever since. Jen especially enjoys reading just about anything and everything, learning and experimenting with old time skills and creating beautiful things. She is particularly drawn to skills and ideas that increase self-sufficiency and decrease dependence on “the system”. Her repertoire of knowledge and experience includes (but is not limited to): natural yeast bread making, cheesemaking, yogurt making, fermented foods-pickles, beets, beans, salsa, carrots, kefir – water and milk, soap making, spinning, knitting, crocheting, sewing and quilting, basket weaving, basket twining, nutrition, herbs, essential oils and alternative remedies. She has been running her own machine quilting business for the last 17 years, having custom quilted over 5000 quilts. She is mother to 7 and has homeschooled all or part of them for the last 10 years. She also enjoys music. She is a licensed Simply Music piano teacher, has toyed with guitar and mountain dulcimer and is gaining proficiency at the violin along with her daughters. She loves learning new things and connecting with awesome people.

Melanie Gibb

Melanie Gibb is from Arizona and has spent much time learning about overcoming challenging relationships through principles founded in the teachings of Jesus Christ! She has written a book about her experiences of complete change and transformation because of a mighty change of heart that happened to her as she was tutored through much meditation about being accountable and came to understand that through the healing balm of Christ her heart was completely healed by His love. She now has a fullness of joy and loves to share her experiences with others. Melanie is also a teacher and trainer in Foot Renewing which is similar to reflexology. She accesses the signals in the feet to the corresponding parts of the body bringing renewing health. She has learned to use herbs, essential oils, and other natural remedies to heal the body. She has treated all of her children naturally. Melanie loves helping people rise to their potential which she believes everyone is capable of!

Jeff Sanders ~ Traditional Animal Processing

Jeff started acquiring the knowledge and skill of animal processing with the end goal of providing higher quality meat and nutrition for the table.  As with many, this was not a skill that was handed down to him. 

He gained his foundational animal processing skills during his twelve years at Boulder Outdoor Survival School, where he was a head instructor as well as the Program Director.    Following his sense that knowledge and skill are infinite, every animal provides inspiration for new ideas and he continually strives to discover methods that improve his process.

After his tenure at BOSS, he started sharing his animal processing experiences at gatherings, privately organized events and backcountry adventures that he conducts through Desert DAWN. Over the last 19 years he has shared his animal processing experiences with hundreds of people who are eager to regain the knowledge that has become obscured within the last century.

Cat Farneman

Cat is a well-known herbalist and wild medicine specialist. She has been doing herbal medicine since about 1992 and has been teaching herbal medicine at gatherings since 1997. But she has been using herbs as medicine most of her life. Cat collects wild medicinal plants from all over the west and has a trading network with many people, plus she grows many of the plants she uses. She will help you learn to find the herbs your body needs and how to make medicinal products that can help you find balance in your health journey. Cat and her husband, Hal, have been married for 50 years. They have two sons and 9 grandchildren. Cat and Hal currently live in the mountains of Central Utah in the tiny town of Spring City.

Mindy Hardy

Mindy Hardy has been studying herbs and natural healing methods for 15 years.  She is passionate about learning how to heal in the old ways.  Her journey began and continues with studying and apprenticing with Cat and Hal Farneman.  She has  earned her Home Herbalist Certification through Dr. Christopher’s school of Healing Arts, and she is also a certified emotional release facilitator.   Mindy and her husband, Shad, have 3 children who they have homeschooled for the last 15 years.  Herbs have been a tremendous blessing to their family because they are able to avoid illness, heal injuries and avoid going to the doctor’s office as much as possible.  It’s been an amazing journey!  The Hardy’s have enjoyed attending Primitive Skills Gatherings for the last 10 years and look forward to adding Fire to Fire to their annual Gathering schedule.

Mark & Artimas Bayless

Artemis is an artist, art educator, clairvoyant healer and a lover of trees, rivers, birds and sky. Artemis has practiced and taught visual art for many years and enjoys sharing her love of drawing and painting in nature, far away from traditional classrooms. She has practiced intuitive healing techniques for over 15 years and is an accomplished clairvoyant with many hard-won skills and knowledge gems to share in that field. Artemis will be teaching Nature Drawing from Observation, Basic Grounding and Protection Techniques for Working With Energy, and holding private healing sessions.

Mark is a product of the West.  He grew up in San Diego
where he fostered a great love for the ocean and all things in nature.
Hiking in the hills east of San Diego and the desert further to the east
honed his great appreciation for the desert southwest which has continued
to this day.  

Several years ago, Mark became a member of the Primitive Skills community
through his involvement with the Anasazi Foundation and his association with
the people there.  Becoming a member of this ‘tribe’ changed and transformed his life. 

 Mark is an artist/sculptor (markkempbayless.com) and an environmental consultant.  He lives with his wife, Artemis, their son, Abe and their wonder dog, Taika in the foothills of west Cave Creek, Arizona.  Hiking on the trails just off their property is an ongoing activity with the family.

 At Rabbit Stick, Winter Count and at the Elements gatherings, Mark has taught stone pendant making, soapstone carving, petroglyph pecking and pictograph painting (grinding stones into powder on a metate with a mano, processing the powder into paint, making paint brushes from yucca, then painting on thin sandstone).

At Fire to Fire, Mark will be teaching stone pendant making, soapstone carving and knife throwing (yep, throwing sharp pointy things through the air and sticking them into a target).

Chase

“Don’t touch my hat!!!”
Chase is a proud husband and father of five kids. His favorite things to do are be with his family and help with homeschooling the five kids. He is lucky to have a wonderful wife who supports him in all his crazy endeavors.  He found primitive skills gatherings and was hooked. He loves to take his kids camping and teach them about the creations we have been given. He believes the gatherings are an important part to his kids development. He is most famous for his bag of tricks he keeps with him and the stories of the day paul bunyan came to his house or the famous hot sauce story! But his favorite story book he brings to the gatherings is called “Don’t touch my hat!”.  He is often referred to in camp as the guy with the brown campaign hat and the kids love to try to sneak up on him so they can hear him say “Don’t touch my hat!” in his best cowboy voice. If you see him around say hi!

Jean Jones

Jean has a passion for everything wool and nature, always looking for new fun projects that lead to some “dreadfully” fun stuff! A horse riding, animal loving, celtic m usic loving radio dj, plant loving, mom and wife in the woods that feels more at home in nature.

Raylin attended her first gathering in early 2017 which sparked a fire in her. Within a few months Raylin decided it was high time to fulfill a life-long dream, she sold their condo, bought land, and moved into an off-grid trailer for the summer with her husband and three children (with another on the way). Though the dream of being completely self-sufficient, living off their land, was put on hold, Raylin still works towards self-sufficiency in their country-style home on the outskirts of the suburbs. Raylin enjoys providing her family with healthy food through gardening, canning, and preserving, she spends most of her days in her family kitchen preparing from scratch meals for her family of 6. She spends her evenings expanding her knowledge in natural living skills, learning all she can about cob building and plant medicine, just to name a few of the things that she dives into. Creating a love of learning in her home allows her to follow her passions while teaching her children to follow theirs.

You’ll find Raylin each evening in a drumming circle, connecting with those around her through music. This has truly become one of her favorite parts of the gatherings, finding a passion for music she never knew she had. The gatherings have been transformative for Raylin, and she hopes this path of growth continues as she joins the gatherings year after year.

Brennon Miller

Brennon has always had an adventurous spirit, a love of learning, and a love of the outdoors. He has studied primitive living skills for 15+ years. He loves learning from, and teaching new skills to others. Brennon has been involved teaching youth groups outdoor survival skills in many different capacities. Learning to not only to survive but to thrive and enjoy the outdoors is one of his favorite passions in life!

 

Paul Wright

Paul Wright has been an avid outdoorsman all his life.  Spending most of his life in Southeast Idaho and Bear Lake County he gained an appreciation for all things in Nature and a close relationship to Native American Traditions.

He has experienced much in life, as an avid hunter and outdoorsman.  He was a hunting guide and worked in taxidermy for several years.

Due in his interest in History and Culture he was the President of the Upper Snake River Valley historical society and served on the board for 5 years.

His interest in the art of Flint Knapping began when he met Dave Wescott and started attending the Rabbit Stick gatherings in 1995.  Since then he has honed his skills and freely shared his experience with those around him.  His work can be found all over the west in stores and homes.

He has an affinity for working with Stones, as he would say “I like to play with Rocks” and has produces some beautiful work with Fire Opals from the mine in Spencer, Idaho.  He has developed the skill of wire wrapping stones and jewelry, as well as setting his stones in silver and gold for rings, earrings, pendants, etc.

His magnetic personality and jovial persona draw others to him in a very natural way. He has the “gift of gab” as some would say, and is a great person to get to know around a fire.  He and his brother Scott open their camp to anyone to join in an evening of conversation and music as part of connecting to each other, and inviting others to join.  He is affectionately know as “Pauli Lama” because of his clear way of seeing and expressing himself.

Jake Smith

My name is Jake Smith. The first job I ever had was helping my father run survival programs for local kids who were in high school. I have been in love with the wilderness ever since. I worked every summer in the deserts of Southern Utah. I then served a mission for my church for two years on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I learned to speak Spanish and Mayan and learned many primitive skills from those people. I came home and began working for The Journey, a company that uses work, wilderness and therapy to change young teenagers lives. I became the Field Director for the outdoor component of the programs and then we started The Journey Wilderness program. I eventually became the Executive Director and helped train many staff and worked with many clients. I earned my degree in emergency management from Utah Valley University. I am a Wilderness EMT and love teaching Wilderness First Responder classes. I am a member of a Utah search and rescue team, but my ultimate pride and joy is my family. I have four amazing kids and a wife who supports and loves me. I have a passion for learning and teaching primitive and living history skills. I feel the better a person is trained the safer they are.

 

Michael Baird

Michael is a primitive skills instructor for California Survival school, a wilderness emt, and a backpacking guide for various therapy programs in the southwest. He has a passion for people and hanging out in the desert in his big hat.

 

Michael & Rosemary Wells

Mike and Rosemary Wells live on a small farm in Idaho they call The Shepherd’s Whistle where they raise Navajo Churro sheep. They enjoy woodworking, felting, spinning, tapping trees, making soap, building tiny off the grid structures and learning all they can about living the simple life. They are willing to share all they have learned and love learning from others as well. Fire to Fire is a great place to make this happen.

Michael Wells is an all around handy-man who has built homes from start to finish on his own. He and Rosemary travel in a bus they have refurbished to become a mobile home using his instruction and skills. Mike has been working with wood since he could hold a board over 50 years ago. He teaches woodworking skills using a simple log to create a stool. Mike employs basic hand tools to split the wood and fit the legs using mortise and tenon techniques from thousands of years ago. Mike enjoys watching his students build upon the skills he teaches them to produce a stool matching their vision of style and function.

Rosemary Wells has been primitive felting for over 15 years and teaching it for over 12. After a day of mental health counseling she enjoys creating with warm soapy water and soft wool. She took felting from four different teachers to perfect her craft making hats, bags, vests, rugs and other felted objects from the wool of the sheep she and her husband raise on their little farm in Idaho. Rosemary has felted with wolf, buffalo, rabbit, human hair and a variety of sheep, but prefers the wool of the Navajo Churros she breeds especially for the felting quality of their fiber. She teaches using basic layout techniques that will allow the student to progress to more difficult projects as they continue to practice felting. She loves watching new students discover their the beauty within as they create beautiful things with their hands.

 

Justin Swensen

Justin is coming in from Southern Utah where he is the field director at RedCliff Ascent; a wilderness treatment center for troubled youth and struggling young adults. Justin has a degree in human development and art. He is versed in a variety of primitive skills and backcountry travel. He has taught moccasin, capote, Native American style flute making, and wood carving classes for many years. Justin was introduced to woodworking and woodcarving by his grandfather at a young age. He later studied caricature and wood spirit carving under Susan Hedrix and has been carving wooden spoons for twenty years.

 

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