By Terrah Baker
I needed an adventure last winter when I decided to attend the Ozark Tracker Society Coyote Mentoring workshop in the hills of the Ozark Mountains in the beginning of February.
It wasn’t until my husband and I returned from the two-day workshop to our small apartment on the east side of Fayetteville that the reality of our experience came to light.
We sat on our couch, slowly unraveling the subtle lessons about nature that we didn’t even realize we were learning.
That’s what they kept telling us coyote mentoring was about, but it’s so effective there were times we didn’t realize it was being used on us.
And it had the same affect on me, as an adult, that they said it would on a child.
Coming from the suburb of all suburbs in the monoculture corn capitol of the world, real, raw nature has been something relatively new to me.
This was the experience I needed to open my eyes to the language of nature, telling me what’s happening all around me.
Granted, the occasional boat zipping across Lake Fort Smith could be heard when hiking through the woods trying to find my “spot” to observe, but the group leaders fed our curiosity through questions we never thought to ask, and by allowing us to explore possible answers. So, small, real-world distractions didn’t deter the personal discovery.
And they do more than just mentoring. Much more.
This summer I went to a Preserve the Harvest workshop, where we left with freshly canned apple-pie filling and a ton of knowledge.
Coming up they have one of the most acclaimed Ozark Tracker Society experiences.
“Bird Language is the art and science of interpreting the language of nature through the actions of the birds.These techniques allow us to intimately see and experience wildlife unobserved and at a very close distance,” the organizers said.
Thanks to a grant from the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, OTS will hold a four-weekend intensive workshop throughout the seasons.
Guest speaker will be Rick Bedsworth — a 20-plus year practitioner of Bird Language and contributor to Jon Young’s Backyard Bird Language series.
The workshop series will be held on the beautiful Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge in Colcord, Okla., that adjoins Spavinaw Creek and is home to numerous birds and other wildlife.
This workshop is slightly pricey (not for what you get, but in real-world money), but some of their workshops are as little as $20.
Whatever event you choose to attend, be prepared to open your mind and let yourself take in all of the sounds around you that you’ve never stopped to listen to before.
For more information, email Sarah Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.ozarktrackers.org to sign up for upcoming workshops.