8 Shields Curriculum


This lineage began at The Tracker School founded by Tom Brown Jr., and was further developed by Jon Young at Wilderness Awareness School. Matt Shull and several of our staff have studied and currently study directly with these Elders, who are revolutionizing the nature connection movement. We are very pleased with White Pine’s current expression of the 8 Shields Nature Connection model.

The name ‘8 Shields’ refers to a nature-based framework, created to organize a collection of design principles, practices and activities for deep nature connection and community building. Since 1983, the framework has been developed by founder – anthropologist and naturalist – Jon Young, his mentors and teachers, and an international community of practitioners. The framework is organized according to the 8 compass directions. For example, the East Shield includes beginnings, newness, birth, early morning, springtime, ‘new shoots’, and the qualities of inspiration and welcome. Based on observations of nature and an understanding of nature-connected cultures, the 8 Shields framework does not derive from any one tradition. The late elder M. Norman ‘Ingwe’ Powell and Jon Young surveyed hundreds of children and adults to assign meaning to each of the 8 directional archetypes. Much consideration has been given to how the framework can best avoid cultural appropriation while also honoring the traditions which have inspired it.