DEEPER ROOTS immersion

This is your time…to take time

WHEN

Sept. 2024 – May 2025

WHERE

Charlottesville, VA area

WHO

Adults Ages 18 +

Embark on an unforgettable nine-month journey where nature is your classroom.

The Living Earth Deeper Roots Immersion program is your time to dive deep into an earth-based curriculum. Reconnect with the natural world, transform your life, build community, and find mentors during this nine-month immersive program. This is an experience that will last a lifetime.

Adult nature programs survival skills
adults making fire by friction, a wilderness survival skill

Why Deeper Roots?

Deeper Roots Immersion was created for people who want to deepen their connection to nature, value learning in a vibrant community, and want to sink their hands and minds into activities that develop an understanding of our living earth. It is for those who want to go beyond just dabbling and crave a truly immersive experience in nature to grow and thrive.

You will be assigned an advisor who will help oversee your learning journey. Our classes have a low student to teacher ratio so you will get the attention you need to succeed.

Gap Year

Before, during, after, or instead of college. When making big decisions on your life path, it’s easy to feel intimidated and confused. This is your opportunity to focus on your personal growth and aligning your values with your life.

Job Training

Whether you want to be an instructor, educator, naturalist, or guide, this program will provide practical experience and skills so you can get your start in the outdoor industry, teaching, nature connection, and beyond.

Mentorship

For adults seeking a life-changing experience with experienced nature mentors. along the way If you’re craving a path of deep knowledge, authentic connection, and lasting relationships, a soul-filled journey in nature awaits you.

Earth Skills

Those searching for deeper connections to the world around them will find there is always something new to learn. Deepen your awareness of ecosystems, hone your wilderness survival skills, and put knowledge into practice.

Frequently asked questions

Some students live in the Charlottesville area and surrounding counties during the program. They either rent rooms, a house, or apartment. We have local connections and can help with finding rooms if needed. You can live in a rural setting if you desire, small town, or larger towns like Charlottesville (about 150,000 people in the surrounding area).

Charlottesville is a college town (University of Virginia), that has many hip things going on (great restaurants, music scene, used bookstore, farmers markets, and lots of creative art related things).

Is there work available in the area? Yes. Many students will have part time work to help make their participation in this course possible. The program meets usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Having a flexible work schedule is important as a few times a year we will have field trips out of the area.

We are working towards making college credit for those that want it. Some students work it out with their current college to receive credit for their time in DRI.

No previous training is required. Some students that come to Living Earth have attended other wilderness survival schools, taking college level classes, etc. Mostly they come with an interest to learn. We encourage you to ask us questions to get a better sense if we are a good fit.

Yes. Please fill out this form, along with an application, for financial assistance consideration.

Deeper Roots Curriculum

This intimate immersive program offers a blend of discussion-based and experiential learning. We will learn deeply about the natural beings that make up our local ecosystem, how to live on the earth in right-relationships, test our skills, make things that are useful from the land, and laugh in a rich, diverse, and inclusive learning community. The mix of hard and soft skills cultivates deeper relationships that build empathy, values, passion, and a deep sense of quiet that will help inform your next steps in life.

Your days will vary—from being at base camp to exploring special places in the region. This may look like: Hands-on projects, journal time, group activities, and storytelling to making fire without matches in the dead of winter, tracking a bobcat on a mountain as it hunts for dinner, restoring a patch of damaged land from past abuses, or paddling wild rivers.

Engage in core practices to connect and build a deep relationship with nature through natural movement, reading the landscape, full sensory integration, and more. These practices will help you:

  • Navigate in wilderness settings
  • Achieve a greater awareness and a deeper connection to the local environment
  • Better understand how to move ones body in healthy and balanced ways, in tune with the rhythms of the Earth
  • Incorporate centering/grounding routines and mindfulness techniques into your life
Learn how to read the signs and tracks of various animals, how animals move, and the deeper meanings animals teach us about awareness. These practices will help you:

  • Learn to see details where most miss out
  • Gain an empathy and understanding for the creatures we share the Earth with
  • Increase knowledge of the natural history of Virginia
  • Hone skills for locating animals for photography/hunting
  • Translate the skills of animal tracking into self-awareness and introspection

Learn to identify the voices of birds and what they are telling you about the greater landscape. The birds will transform what you can read from the landscape in more ways than you can imagine. These practices will help you:

  • Realize how connected everything is in the forest
  • Learn to identify birds by sight and sound
  • Expand your awareness of the landscape and what is happening in the woods
  • Learn the skill of storytelling through piecing information together gained through observing birds and their calls
  • Use bird language to survive in the wild
Gain knowledge of edible and medicinal plants while understanding their various utilitarian uses and learn how to integrate these wonderful allies into your daily life. These practices will help you:

  • Identify various plants and trees
  • Understand the basics of herbalism and herbal remedies such as salves and tinctures
  • Broaden your awareness of native and invasive plants
  • Learn how to ethically forage, harvest, and cook food from the landscape
  • Create survival tools from plant sources, such as fiber, hunting tools, shelters, and water purification

The land and waters change from place to place, each having its own unique characteristics. You will learn about the different ecosystems, what drives them, and how this knowledge impacts how to live in those areas. These practices will help you:

  • learn Understand the signs of a healthy ecosystem and how everything is interrelated in the environment
  • Become more aware of environmental issues in the world
  • Tie all the lessons together throughout the year
Foster a harmonious relationship with the earth through caretaking, permaculture, and stewardship. We will learn to wield our skills to help the earth heal and return to a state of health and vitality. These practices will help you:

  • Interact with the environment in a way that gives back
  • Rehabilitate an area through strategic usage of resources
  • Recognize the major impacts people have on their surroundings and how to avoid this, such as erosion, spread of invasives, and fire safety
  • Study how indigenous peoples tended to their surroundings in a sustainable way

Shelter, Fire, Water, Food. Survival skills teach us the bare necessities to live on Earth. We will utilize our hands to craft from what nature offer, increasing creativity and competence, and thus building our ability to live in balance with the earth. These practices will help you:

  • Survive in the wilderness with minimal tools
  • Grow in self confidence and self sufficiency
  • Work as a team and survive in the wilderness in a community setting
  • Gain basic first aid skills
  • Learn to build tools, including fire by friction kits, tanning leather, and wooden bows

At the heart of a healthy community is peacemaking. We will learn core peace principles that guide us how to best conduct ourselves in community. These practices will help you:

  • Build the skills to live in a community setting through team building activities and leadership training
  • Access elder figures, mentors, and a close knit community
  • Learn routines for introspection 
  • Be more open and vulnerable in a safe container

The Classroom

We’ve been in your shoes. College or a 9 to 5 wasn’t feeling meaningful or exciting at the time. We craved more. We have felt the pain, the apathy, the adrift feelings. Yet we discovered ways to live meaningful adult lives that allowed us to contribute back to something we deeply cared about. This transformation rarely happens by chance. It was because we sought out mentors and built a sustainable framework that was aligned with our values that we found success— and a deeply enriching way of life.

Living Earth School has a mentoring culture that aims to bring out the best in an individual. We have done this work as individuals and as program leaders for over twenty years. Our program provides the opportunity to meet nature directly—so that you can foster an intuitive and harmonious relationship with nature. The root word mentor means “to bring the light out of another.” We offer this gift of nature-connected mentoring to you.

Upon completion of Deeper Roots Immersion, we want you to know how to lead your life, to problem solve, to be willing to take risks, and to have a framework for success. We are here to support your journey forward.

The Takeaway

This is an immersive Year that will last a lifetime.

After nine immersive and soul-nourishing months, you will gain earth skills, leadership skills, emotional growth, and leave with a stronger sense of Self—an integral mind, body, and heart connection. This solid foundation will help you to take your next steps in life—steps toward a fulfilling life journey and purpose where you can thrive and live harmoniously with your community and the earth. Upon completion of Deeper Roots Immersion, we want you to know how to lead your life, to problem solve, to be willing to take risks, and to have a framework for success. We are here to support your journey forward.

There are many places in the modern world where the skills learned and the inner growth gained can really be an asset to ones future. Yet, the program does not last forever. We are very invested in helping our students find success and their niche after the program ends. we will expose them to lots of professionals that can speak to how they can apply these skills outside of the program, and what that job entails on many levels. This can help the students find where in life they can apply their new found skills to live a fulfilling life. Nature education is helpful in a lot of fields, from nature connection schools and forest kindergarten to eco therapy, outdoor education, wilderness guiding, conservation management, environmental law, healing arts, and regenerative agriculture.

Goal Setting

As the year wraps up, we will help participants set a clear path with goals that are achievable, relevant, and inspiring, We know that a solid path can help them live a fulfilling life, whether it is furthering their education, getting a job in the field, or diving in deeper.

Community

Once in the LES family, always in the LES family. Staff continue to be in contact with students after the program to answer questions, help them reflect, or hear about their experiences. Students also stay in contact continue relationships with each other.

Certifications

In addition to a certificate of completion, participants will have the opportunity to earn certification in Wilderness Medicine, Permaculture Design, and Swift Water Rescue. These certificates are recognized by future employers, helping meet many job requirements.

Jobs

Upon completion of Deeper Roots, participants have the opportunity to immediately put their skills to use as LES summer camp instructors, earning upward of $6,000. Additionally, there may be work as weekend youth instructors during the program months.

Logistics

Program Dates: Sept. 2024 – May 2025

Program Tuition: $12,900*

Do you offer Financial Aid? Yes. Please fill out the form below, along with an application, for financial assistance consideration. Payment plans are also an option for those that need it.

Ages: 18 years and older

*The Living Earth School has opportunities to put your skills and knowledge to work immediately upon graduating if you desire. Work for LES the summer following your graduation and earn upwards of $6000, This is an immediate 50% return of your investment.

How do I apply? Submit your application online below. We will review applications on a rolling basis, and get back to you in 3-4 weeks with a decision. Since the application process is rolling, the program is full when it fills.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to discuss veteran benefits or international students please reach out to Anna at: connect@livingearthva.org

Once you are accepted into the program, an enrollment deposit of $2580 is due within 4 weeks to hold your place. Part of that deposit is a non-refundable enrollment fee of $500. If you require financial assistance, we will be in touch with you about options as part of the acceptance process.

Your Guides

We’ve been in your shoes. College or a 9 to 5 job wasn’t feeling meaningful or exciting. We craved more and wanted something different. We have felt the pain, the apathy, the adrift feelings. Yet we discovered ways to live meaningful adult lives that allowed us to contribute back to something we deeply cared about. This transformation rarely happens by chance. It was because we sought out mentors and built a sustainable framework that aligned with our values that we found success and a deeply enriching way of life.

Living Earth School has a mentoring culture that aims to bring out the best in an individual. We have done this work as individuals and as program leaders for over twenty years. Our program provides the opportunity to meet nature directly—so that you can foster an intuitive and harmonious relationship with nature. The root word mentor means “to bring the light out of another.” We offer this gift of nature-connected mentoring to you.

Paul Cipriani, Lead Instructor

Paul has been studying primitive technologies for over 15 years. Apprenticing at schools such as Wilderness Awareness School and The Tracker School, Paul has also studied how to mentor others in these ancient skills. Knowing this is his life’s work, he has nature mentored children on the high seas upon tall ships, in the deserts of Utah with troubled youth, at various summer camps across the country, as well as at his own school in Florida. When not leading youth around the woods, Paul loves to fish, hunt and rockhound in addition to leatherworking and blacksmithing.

Living Earth School co-founder Hub Knott sits on a rock by the water

Hub Knott, LES Founder

Hub has been on a deep nature connection journey for over 25 years. He didn’t grow up in a world that felt connected to nature. He knew something was missing. In his late teens he started exploring the woods near his childhood home in Baltimore, and then expanded to some of the most beautiful wild places in North America. He yearned for the taste of the wild, the real, the mountain peaks and the rich valleys.

He has traveled to other continents and studied with many leaders and mentors to answer the question: what consistently connects people to nature, and their purpose? It is these findings that put him on the leading edge of the nature connection movement. Hub knows from experience how this nature connection journey can transform ones life, leading to more heart-centered relationships and purpose. He has mentored and taught thousands of people to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way with not only the natural world, but with themselves in balance with community.

Hub is great at bringing humor, curiosity and a light-hearted approach to loving this earth and empowering people to embrace their opportunity. Hub lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wonderful wife Kate and daughters Violet and Phoebe. He loves pursuing his outdoor passions of gardening, tending the wild, wandering the mountains behind his home, trail running, paddling rivers, and saying “yes” to adventure.

Other LES staff and friends of LES will provide supporting roles and visit to guest instruct some pieces of the curriculum. We are fortunate to be in an area of many experts that can share their breadth of knowledge to enrich this learning experience.

A message from LES Founder, Hub Knott:

I know the impact such a program as this had in my own life. It was an investment of time and money in myself. I can’t imagine where I would be today without making this investment in myself, and finding mentors that cared about me, and my growth. It was the turning point in my life to live a life where I am deeply content and with a framework to succeed.

I graduated high school and in the world I lived in everyone went directly to college. I was not excited about that prospect, as I didn’t really know what I wanted. Slogging through school without a strong focus felt like torture.

I had some clear ideas of what I didn’t want: a job that lacked meaning or didn’t make the world a better place for all. I didn’t want to just bumble through life or work just to keep up with the bills. So I decided to take a pause before starting college. It was one of the greatest choices I have ever made.

I set out on a wander around the country, which was great in some ways, but wasn’t really helping, I was spinning aimlessly during this impressionable time in my life.

Eventually, my parents stepped in and offered to send me on an extended guided wilderness program. That was a game-changer. I learned how to care for myself, was exposed to new ideas, learned the skills to safely travel in very harsh conditions, and learned about leadership. It was there that I found my voice, and identified what I valued. From learning applicable skills, I gained competence and confidence. I discovered what I was passionate about, and learned how I could positively contribute to the world.

I soon made my way back to college when I was ready to make the most of the experience and investment. And I got a ton of value out of it. I attribute that wilderness immersion course as the turning point that led me to success in life and a life filled with meaningful contribution. I have not wavered on my values and passion since.

What will your life path be? What journey will you choose to embark upon?

– Hub Knott, LES Founder and Mentor

Your time is now.
Join us for A year That will Last a lifetime.