We are blessed to have found some amazing and aligned facilitators to work with our group. Here is some information about our them and their approach to education.
Program Director and Lead Wild Tenders Instructor
Ted Packard is a mentor, naturalist, ancestral skills craftsman, storyteller, and musician. Since 2011, he has mentored youth in wilderness survival, edible and medicinal plants, animal tracking, bird language, and the innumerable intricacies of growing into the human body, heart, and mind. He is trained in the eight shields model, having attended Wilderness Awareness School in Western Washington and has worked in a variety of nature programs for children, both large and small. Ted believes that humans learn best when they are immersed in nature, in play, and in community.
In this video, Ted shares some insights into his approach with the kids:
Leaf-Hoppers Lead Instructor
Greetings! I’m Heidi Patton. Born in the suburbs of Portland, OR, I spent far more time in organized sports than playing in nature as a child. After moving to San Francisco for college however, the over-stimulation of the big city led me to take solace in nature - especially the Presidio, a natural area where I ended up becoming a teacher for a nature-based children’s program. When I graduated, I moved down the coast to study naturalism and lead farm and wilderness field trip programs for inner city children. I’ve been inspired to find ways to be in the wilderness with children ever since! In addition to my work at Wild Soul, my son and I spend much of our free time camping, harvesting wild food and herbs, making fires, and singing songs of gratitude to our glorious Mother Earth.
Wild Tenders Instructor
Kelly Sheridan is a new teacher with the Wild Tenders this year. She is a Durango local, a mother, a nature lover, an outdoor adventurer and a lifelong learner. Kelly got her undergraduate degree in Education and Performance Art at Prescott College. Since then she has been a biodynamic farmer, an herbal medicine maker, a private chef, and more. She has a masters degree in Acupuncture, as well as an Open Focus Coaching and Biodynamic Craniosacral certifications. Kelly enjoys exploring the intersection between the earth and health and understands that these two inform each other deeply. Since becoming a mother she set an intention to share the gift of the earth with her daughter and the larger population of local children. It is her goal to encourage safety, sense of place, healthy relationship, curiosity, deepening skills, and wonder in the children she works with.
I grew up around the marshes, ponds, and beaches of a small community on the east coast. We fished and swam the Atlantic in summer. Winter gave us the gift of ice skating when the ponds froze and snow allowed us to sled in the hills. It gave me a great sense of freedom and joy. Pulling our sleds up the hill countless times was great exercise.
A nearby state park offered a mysterious wood filled with old hardwood trees. Our imaginations ran wild. We built forts, dug tunnels, and began to see the world that existed underneath the trees and forest floor. There is so much going on there. And I loved getting dirty! My dad maintained a large vegetable garden in summer from which the family ate quite well. In his retirement he switched to flowers. Our house often had the sweet fragrance of fresh cut flowers that my mother put in a vase in our dining room.
I landed in Durango 24 years ago after taking a job in Utah as a guide in a therapeutic wilderness program. I met the desert and fell in love. I was introduced to Ancestral Skills, and I witnessed lives transformed through the powerful mirror of nature connection.
I hold an M.A. in Adventure Based Psychotherapy and worked as a clinician for about 10 years.
Needing a new direction to freshen my perspective, I got involved with Vision Fast and Council work through the School of Lost Borders. I currently serve on the Advisory Council of the Wilderness Guides Council, an offshoot of the school. A few months ago, my good friend and colleague from my days in Wilderness Therapy connected me with Durango Wild Soul. I am thrilled to be apprenticed (you’re never too old, right?) with some remarkable teachers and mentors in Nature Connection. It’s awesome to watch children learn outside of mainstream, “Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmatic.” I see the power of creating beautiful and whole individuals through this work. It takes all my previous experience to the next level.
I have traveled extensively around the globe on foot, bicycle, planes trains and automobiles. I am fluent in Spanish; play guitar and I love to cook. I am thrilled to be a part of the Wild Soul Community.