Choose Your Own Adventure: Conferences as One Path to Herbal Education

Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, 2015. Photo compliments of Howie Brounstein.  

 

Do you remember the choose your own adventure books? Getting an herbal education  is a lot like one of those books.  We all start off at the same place, an interest in herbs  and a desire to learn more. From this jumping off point, there are many divergent paths...self study, apprenticeship, immersion programs, full and part-time schools, internships, herbal communities, farms. The list goes on. If you enjoy learning in community like I do, attending an herb school is a logical place  to start. Thanks to the internet and some amazingly dedicated people, like Mason from Herbrally and the folks over at the American Herbalist Guild (Thanks guys!) it’s easier than ever to  find and research herb schools. Most have websites, and the few that don’t are easily  contacted through email, phone, or social media sites. But let’s face it, as a new or aspiring herbalist, it’s a daunting task to make sense of a  school’s style, curriculum, and the type of herbalism each teacher practices, from  reading the ‘about us’ section of their websites.  Nor is it always feasible to travel  around the country visiting schools until you have that ‘ah ha’ moment. One great way to choose an herb school is to do your research, compile a list of  herbalists you are interested in studying with, and find a conference where most or all of  them are teaching. 

I’ve always attended local herb conferences and this year I was blessed with the ability  to attend a few larger events.  Not only did I get to meet and take classes with a ton of  herbal rock stars; for the first time I felt connected to the wider herbal community.  It was  inspiring. Like, crazy life and career affirming inspiring.    Attending an herb conference will allow you to learn from many potential teachers.  A lot  of schools have booth space in the vending areas and most teachers are open to  answering questions if you catch them at the right time.  You will also have the  opportunity to interact with students from herb schools you’re interested in.  It’s always a  great idea to ask current students about their personal experiences with schools and  teachers. You might also have a crazy fun time dancing to live music and end up laying on the floor laughing, dressed up as your favorite flower.

Mel Kasting is the administrator and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies in Eugene,  OR. In addition to Columbines, Mel has taken online classes through the North American Institute of Medical  Herbalism. She spends her off hours seeing clients, working as an herbalist with Occupy Medical, a free  integrated mobile clinic, taking photographs, wildcrafting, and medicine making for her business, Artemis  Herbs.

Mel Kasting is the administrator and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies in Eugene,  OR. In addition to Columbines, Mel has taken online classes through the North American Institute of Medical  Herbalism. She spends her off hours seeing clients, working as an herbalist with Occupy Medical, a free  integrated mobile clinic, taking photographs, wildcrafting, and medicine making for her business, Artemis  Herbs.