Our Vision

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The Vision of Wild Intelligence is simple.

We are devoted to co-creating a healthy earth with other humans.

We want an Earth with clean water and wild places abundant with life.

We desire to see an Earth with whole, happy humans living peacefully in community with their neighbors. An Earth where city-scapes are built through intelligent designs which work in accordance with their environment – using resources wisely and economically.

We want a world where children play freely and grow up supported by the adults in the community . A community filled with adults offering guidance unique to each child when they need encouragement to try something new.

We want a world where communities support teens in finding their unique voice as they transform from children into adults. A world where teens are encouraged to question things, test their fears, and discover themselves in the process.

We want a world where adults live their dreams. A world where their special gifts support the community who in turn supports them.

We want an Earth where Elders are seen for being the wisdom keepers, story tellers and teachers they have become in their life. We want to see our elders cared for by the community in all of their needs.

At Wild Intelligence we believe when you have an authentic relationship with someone or something you are more likely to take care of it well.   When you feel connected to someone or something a bond forms. The more connected you feel, the stronger the bond the deeper the CONNECTION.

If we want a healthy earth and healthy human society, and healthy humans, we have to lead people to fall in love again with the world – with life…to CONNECT.

This is our mission – our work – at Wild Intelligence.

Are you ready to join us?

 

Our Curriculum

Wild Intelligence is a nature connection school based in Athens, Georgia, offering programs for youth, teens, and adults. Wild Intelligence follows a participant-centered curriculum based in the natural cycle in order to facilitate empowered relationships to nature, self, and community.

  • All of our programs are centered around the individuals we are working with - where they are and who they are.
  • We use Nature as our classroom.
  • Because being connected is at the root of everything we do at Wild Intelligence our mentors work closely with the participants. The mentors get to know their groups and develop the program based on what they are interested in when they are in the natural world.
  • Following passions leads to a deeper connection to themselves and to Nature.
  • AND… We share our passions for being outside as well as share the knowledge we have acquired in our own naturalist paths.
  • Each mentor is unique and each group is unique.
  • Our philosophy is based on the natural cycle and is organized according to the 8 Directions.

"Natural Empowerment" Model

East: Hazards Awareness & Woods Safety, Gratitude
SE: Child Passions & Natural Play
South: Animal Tracking & Creative Inquiry
SW: Edible and Medicinal Plants & Wandering Skills
West: Self-Discovery & Community, Arts and Music
NW: Storytelling, Mythology, History of Place, Stewardship and Healing
North: Trees, Rocks, Fire and Wilderness Survival Skills
NE: Bird Language, Deep Listening, Blindfold Games, Advanced Sensory Awareness

 

Founding Story

Born and raised in Athens, Evan was inspired as a teenager by his mentoring with Carl Lindberg, local musician and permaculture enthusiast and began to explore nature and the path of consciousness.  Carl introduced him to the books and teachings of Tom Brown, Jr. and Evan attended the Tracker School when he was 18 years old.  It was at Tracker School that he learned about Tom’s student, Jon Young.  Listening to some tapes (yes, ahem, tapes) of Jon Young’s, Evan’s jaw dropped hearing the idea that we could redesign modern culture to consciously reflect and include ancient, natural patterns of education and community from indigenous cultures.  Simultaneously, Evan volunteered with one of Carl’s projects at the Boys & Girls club of Athens.  One day Evan attempted to take a group of kids into the woods by the Oconee River and watched in frustrated and helpless bewilderment as the kids ran out of the woods in utter fear.

Evan McGown – Founder

Seized with a calling reconnect himself and children to the natural world, Evan set off as a 20 year-old to study with Jon Young at Wilderness Awareness School outside of Seattle, Washington. He studied with Jon and other instructors for 2 years, joining the program staff and eventually becoming Adult Programs Director and Summer Camp Director.  While in Seattle, Evan worked on finishing his Bachelor’s degree and became the lead writer for the manual of Jon’s and Tom’s style of mentoring.  Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature, with a foreword by renowned journalist Richard Louv, has now sold thousands of copies worldwide and is used as a training manual for nature connection at camps, programs and universities. Evan began to travel extensively with Jon and others to teach this curriculum and in the process, Evan developed closer mentoring relationships with many incredible teachers and indigenous elders, as well as honing his skills in group facilitation.

In 2009, at the age of 27, Evan returned to his birthplace of Athens, GA to start an organization based on the mentoring and community principles he had learned.  He saw this as an opportunity to give back – to turn his privilege that allowed him to travel and learn from so many incredible people into a service project for the betterment of his birthplace.  Completing of a full-circle journey that began when he met Carl Lindberg at age 12 and with the long-distance support of his mentor Mark Morey, Evan began to set his coyote traps to attract the people that would help build a nature-based mentoring organization.  Wild Intelligence was born.  Evan’s early efforts were hugely supported by Mike Weems, Steven Snow-Bear Taylor, Clint Corley, Tommy Tye, Sharon Duncan (Waseca School founder) and Carl Lindberg, who in a complete role reversal became one of Evan’s first students and employees (it was always Carl’s dream that Evan would bring these teachings back to Athens).  Many luminaries supported the founding of Wild Intelligence by traveling from afar to visit and teach, including Jon Young, Mark Morey, Paul Raphael, JoAnne Cook, Dan Gardoqui, and Victor Wooten.

Within 3 years of programming, Wild Intelligence had waiting lists for all of its camps as well as a steady and growing community of adults, mentors and parents to carry the vision forward.  Holding many community-wide summits and backroom conversations, Evan began to transition out of leadership, passing the torches onto Sarah Hubbard and Sara Callaway. Eventually Wild Intelligence successfully became a non-profit community-based organization with Evan as the first President of the Board in 2013, passing the torch onto Mike Weems in 2014.

With his 5-year catalyst project completed and Wild Intelligence properly in the hands of a community with a host of brilliant leaders with their own visions, Evan moved on. He set out in the world again where he continues to follow even deeper callings to cultivate and express his authentic gifts for the betterment of the world.

Tragically, in May 2015, just as Evan prepared to move away from Athens for the final time, his original mentor, Carl Lindberg, passed away at 40 years of age.

"Wild Intelligence stands as a testament to the power of mentoring. The mentoring, to be sure, of Tom Brown, Jon Young, Stalking Wolf, and many many others. But most notably, in my mind, Wild Intelligence is a testament to the mentoring of Carl Lindberg with a wide-eyed 12 year old. And what is the glue of mentoring? What makes it go? Love. Acting for the betterment of another without expectation of return. Carl Lindberg taught me that. Without Carl, there would be no Wild Intelligence. I am proud that Wild Intelligence continues on, inspiring and mentoring countless people into the future, and even prouder to know that the people running it are themselves run by the same thing Carl was when he inspired me as a young man: love and hope, and a radical, playful readiness to live on the edge. I pray that it may always be so. May mentoring increase on this planet, whether Wild Intelligence lasts for a century or a decade. I ran these programs so that one day we won’t have to run these programs; one day, may mentoring — the enactment of love — be at the center of human life, everywhere."

Evan McGown