Wilderness Survival & Foraging Weekend Set for September 8-10 in Highland County


In Highland County, a Wilderness Survival and Foraging Weekend Intensive is planned in September.

Steve Pullinger is one of the instructors.  He is a Wilderness Survival Expert.

“The Wilderness Survival, it just teaches the basics, if you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere,” says Pullinger. “You know, everybody has a backpack or has supplies in their car, but what if that scenario came up where you dumped your canoe with all your gear and you’re days away from cell service or any kind of help.  What would you do?  I teach primitive technology, which, that’s a broad term, but I teach how people lived pre-Iron Age.   But in this class, we’ll also go over all the modern tools and fun gadgets to start fires, to cook with, etc.  I don’t want people to be a purist, I want you to be able to survive if something happened.   We’ll cover shelter making, friction fire and fire making with normal tools, how to source and purify water and we’ll also go over how to make cordage out of natural plants that grow in this area.”

Pullinger grew up out in the country and in his early 30’s, he took a Survival School course.

“I just kept practicing and studying just more out of fascination than any other reason,” says Pullinger.  “Then people started asking me to do volunteer programs.  So, I did volunteer programs and then people said ‘Hey, you really need to be doing this for real and charging.’  It’s just grown over the last 35 years.  I homesteaded for 20 years, raised all my own food.   I was an EMT for 20 years, certified Wilderness First Aid.   I believe in empowerment and having the skills to take care of yourself and the people in your family or neighborhood and all this has come together in the program that I teach now.”

Annette Naber is a Foraging Teacher and Eco Therapist.  As part of the program, she will be teaching about plants for foraging and first aid.

“I grew up in Germany, in the Black Forest, and remember well the Sunday walks that families took and we would go foraging whenever there was blueberries, chanterelles, other fruit,” says Naber.  “And so, from the time I was a kid, that was just something I naturally did.  And even when I came to the US and lived in cities, I studied in Cincinnati, I worked in Washington DC for almost 20 years, I always went out to the parks into nature to look for plants.  I have been studying the edible and medicinal uses of plants for the last 30 years.”

“I always enjoy how peoples’ eyes light up by the end of the foraging programs, how touched they are and some people are so deeply moved that there are tears by their individual experience with the plants,” says Naber. “It seems like they are rediscovering something that they didn’t even know they were missing. And I love to see the confidence that they gain in identifying and knowing how to use the plants they see around themselves every day.”

Wilderness Survival and Foraging: A Weekend Intensive will be held September 8th through the 10th in Highland County.   Participants who live locally get a $50 discount on the program fee if they do not need the campground accommodations.   There is one work exchange available, for a reduced fee, for someone to help with logistics for the program.

For more information, visit https://emeraldmountainsanctuary.com or call 540-290-4033

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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