by Mel Kasting
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.