Sentience, Stewardship, Science,
Spirit and Sanctuary
By Don Elzer - Founder of the Wildcraft Forest School

At the Wildcraft Forest School we have created a series of certifications which are intended to strengthen the work that is required as humanity and this planet herself transition into the future – our work is influenced by our Wildcrafters Promise.

The various guides that the Wildcraft Forest School graduates must be leaders in the delivery of stewardship methods that engages their audience by exploring nature up-close and deep into ecosystems, and then to challenge that audience to work together to articulate ideas based on feelings and observations; and then to place all of it into what we call the “four pillars of wild intention” which consists of: Stewardship, Sentience, Spirit and Science. These four pillars then support a presence of connection within what we call a “sanctuary” which then provides a platform by which we become “responsible” for ourselves, others; planet Earth and her beings.

In order to take on “responsibility” we must trust an inner “knowing” but one that is supported by scientific research so that we may build better methods of stewardship capable of restoring and regenerating ecosystems. We must also address the unknowns locked inside of shadow biodiversity so that we may lessen the impacts linked to the laws of unintended consequences.

Wildcrafting is pragmatic and is very much “story-based” and “place-based” we immerse ourselves into nature and become the observer and then the storyteller. We seek to imagine what the relationships might be within the natural world, based on feelings about the interwoven experiences that the natural world offers. We are spiritual yet scientific in our quest to understand the wild and represent that precious middle ground as we work with both spiritual and scientific communities which then fosters both a pluralistic and wholistic approach to understanding species and ecosystems and the sentience that runs through it all.

We have applied our approach to wildcrafting to support Yasei Shinrin Yoku (Yasei) training which considers the expansion of our health, purpose and well-being as being directly related to the work that we do for the benefit of the forest. This practice considers that we and the forest are “one” and that through this presence a true natural balance of energy can be achieved that benefits both the individual and the natural world. If we invest in the health and growth of the forest then the forest will invest in us; the medium of exchange is “life-force”. Course lessons offer learning experiences with nature's nutrients, which include phytocides and also includes wildcrafted teas, oils and scents.

Wildcrafting, Yasei Shinrin Yoku and other certifications provide participants with an opportunity to set up an independent practice and also provides planning support for practitioners to establish a Yasei Sanctuary Forest. Wildcrafting and Yasei considers that when we “consume” nature without regard for it, that we are not realizing the full potential that nature can provide for us. But when we create a “relationship” with the natural world we will achieve the ultimate health and spiritual benefits. Like all relationships this means giving, receiving and respect.

Our practice involves a foundation belief and understanding that the natural world is sentient so therefore a forest requires the same approach to a relationship that a human relationship would require. So traditionally when we dwell in the forest we tend to have a purpose that involves some sort of consumption, perhaps we are gathering wood, or logging, or gathering mushrooms or perhaps we are even gathering energy and beauty. As consumers we quite naturally become enveloped with “self” interest without considering the “whole” interest.

When we consider the whole interest of the natural world, we must consider aspects of “procreation” which is a species ability to regenerate and exist in a wild space in perpetuity. By creating a mission to insure that this happens, a human being would engage in becoming a “steward” of that place and for the living beings that need to be supported. This requires that we place the interests of other species ahead of our own interests, which then becomes a relationship.

When we invest energy into the regeneration of a wild space then that wild space understands that we are beneficial to its health and existence, so in exchange, it invests in us. This is at the core of the teaching presented by the Wildcraft Forest School that we as humans exist, or should exist, within a wild and sentient relationship with nature.

As human beings we are beginning to rediscover that life exists beyond our idea of matter. As wildcrafters we understand that the Air is alive; that the Earth has intention; that Water can feel; and that we are Fire. So our efforts must be pragmatic with placing our “knowing” into actions.

Meaning and Purpose Create
Exceptional Team Results

“Leaders like Me” interviews Don Elzer of the Wildcraft Forest School. The interview is titled “Meaning and Purpose Create Exceptional Team Results” and the intro describes Don Elzer as living his meaning and purpose in all aspects of his life. 

This powerful approach has helped him articulate a new way of thinking about how we should live in this world. His wisdom will help you understand the importance of meaning and purpose in creating an irresistible focal point for your team. Prepare to have your worldview challenged…

Some of the gems from this podcast include:
  • “The essential element of leadership is meaning and purpose.”
  • “Instilling the idea of meaning becomes the anchor for what makes a person.”
  • “For a leader, encouraging meaning in people’s lives should be front and center.”
  • “Joy becomes the key result of meaning in your work.”
  • “When we’ve discovered our meaning and embrace our purpose we are basically unstoppable.”

The Podcast with Don Elzer

Learn More: Leaders Like Me Program

Learn more about the Wildcraft Forest School

Wildcraft Forest School
At the Wildcraft Forest 
1981 Highway 6 Lumby, British Columbia
Discovery Centre – 250.547.2001 Email: treks(at)
This website and all material is copyrighted by the Wildcraft Forest
The Wildcraft Forest School offers skills, insights and
inspiration for creating good stewardship and positive change.