We send thanks to all Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so. .-Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version



Jon Young

(CEO, Founder 8 Shields Institute) An author and master storyteller, Jon has recently contributed to the world of birding through his book What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World. He is co-founder of 8 Shields, and has pioneered a cultural mentoring model blending traditional wisdom from around the world with a broad array of tools for connecting with nature, bird language, and holistic wildlife tracking skills. He is also founder of the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA.


Josh Lane

(Bird Language Program Director for 8 Shields Institute) Josh brings a passion for sharing wildlife tracking and bird language skills through mentoring. Josh is an accomplished naturalist and tracker, gifted storyteller and skilled mentor with ten years of experience as a professional mentor and product design specialist for OWLink Media. Josh is a co-author of the Backyard Bird Language and The 8 Gifts From Nature online courses, appears in the instructional DVD Bird Language with Jon Young, and contributed to developing the “How to Learn Bird Language” appendix in the book, What the Robin Knows.


Garret Conway

(Bird Language Leaders Program Manager)For over 15 years, Garret has been dedicated to the healing potential and power of nature connection experiences. He has worked extensively with a diversity of communities all over the world and has directed wilderness leadership training programs, summer camps, after school outdoor programs, university programs, and a family resource center. Garret also serves as the program director at 8 Shields, teaches through UC Davis, and has a private practice in Santa Cruz, CA.

Julie Wolk

(Interim Development Director)Julie is an organization development consultant and business coach facilitating the operational launch of NCMF. She is Co-founder and former Co-Director of Wilderness Torah, a thriving Jewish nature connection organization dedicated to reconnecting people to nature and understanding who they are. She coaches leaders, change-makers, and entrepreneurs, and consults for start-up organizations that are making a difference in the world. Previous to founding Wilderness Torah, she worked for ten years in environmental and social justice advocacy at the Rainforest Action Network, Fenton Communications, and U.S. PIRG.


Ed Landau

(President) is a high-tech veteran with experience focused on business development and problem solving. He worked in Microsoft’s XBOX hardware engineering design team for 13 years before creating his own startups in Santa Cruz, CA. As Engineering Manager on the XBOX team, Ed gained valuable experience in best business practices from process development and business development to negotiations. Ed brings vital insights, clarity, team-building experience, leadership, and follow through.

Josh Pinney

(Treasurer) has worked for 23 years in the film industry. As a coordinator his responsibilities include budget proposals, cost assessments, team building, conceptual and practical design phases, and project deadline and fiscal management. He has been involved in nature connection for over 10 years and recently moved to Santa Cruz to establish roots for his family. He and his family are currently involved in several local nature programs and he is excited to be in service to NCMF.

Casey Pera

Is a firefighter from Burlingame, CA and a married father of three children, he lives in a passive solar straw bale house, nestled amidst an almond and fruit orchard on a multigenerational family homestead in California’s Central Coast region. Casey and his family have been involved with the Central Coast Village Center and its Outside Now program since its inception in 2005, and has been a board member for CCVC since 2008 (President since 2011). He has taken particular interest in the budgeting and safety aspects of the organization, and is now envisioning a permanent piece of land the organization can tend and run programs on. He loves to spend time with his son on the baseball field, with his daughters in the gardens, and with his wife sitting outside enjoying a mug of tea watching the birds play.

Paul Houghtaling

is a biologist and project manager for a long-running field study of mountain lion behavior and ecology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Before earning a Masters degree in biology, Paul served as a program director and instructor at Wilderness Awareness School, an 8 Shields organization, where he directed programs ranging from evening public outreach events to multi-week backcountry courses to year-long intensive trainings and product development. Paul enjoys almost anything adventurous, especially if it can involve his young son, Finn.