Our Story

We are a growing group of like-minded individuals with a single heartfelt vision. Our knowledge and skill come from many incredible teachers and cultural lineages, reaching all the way back to humanity’s most ancient common ancestors. Our organization’s structure and philosophy are based upon the 8 Shields Model. With great gratitude we are working to serve the land and community which has given us each so much.

Local school-year Coyote Mentoring programs for youth and adults provide opportunities for ongoing study of the natural world that allows nature education to be part of daily life, rather than an isolated event. Weekend, week-long, summer programs, and expeditions serve a diverse public and bring regional participants together. These programs currently reach many people in the greater Traverse City area and provide amazing nature experiences, inspiration, training, practice, networking and apprenticeship opportunities.

HNS is part of the Deep Nature Connection movement which is structurally and philosophically rooted in a rich lineage of teachings called the 8 shields model.  Our goals are vast and the intent is long lasting.  We strive to facilitate regenerative relationships between humans and nature to support the efforts of people realizing their place in a healthy ecological picture.  We are one of a number of schools deeply inspired by the work of The Wilderness Awareness School and Jon Young amongst other related schools of thought.

HNS exists because of the great ecological need for humans to re-connect to nature in a deep way.  It is healing work which gets to the root of social and environmental problems.  Nature connection work with people in community yields a deep understanding of self, community, and the natural world.  We have cultivated an active local community of alumnae, staff, volunteers, and families who support the school, its students, and one another through extracurricular opportunities, including attendance at programs and seasonal celebrations.

Our school is a non-profit educational organization overseen by a Board of Directors. We have an office in Traverse City, Michigan.  We offer scholarships for many programs and fund these with donations, large and small, from our generous community.  Our Marketing team maintains a website (www.humanatureschool.org) and has achieved a strong presence both online and via word of mouth.


Deeply inspired by the Wilderness Awareness School, Human Nature School began as an experimental project of Matt Miller and Kriya Townsend in September of 2010.  These initial programs served as prototypes and were offered through several local organizations including SEEDS, local homeschool groups, and the public schools.  These programs were successful and well-reviewed.  As attendance grew and collaborations expanded, John Michael Musselman joined the team as another organizational leader.


With these initial successes in hand the team decided to take the school to the next level and became a licensed business in May of 2011.  Along with HNS’s first programs came our first program assistants, administrative helpers, and key volunteers.  These passionate people began building the core of what’s become a dynamic school community.  We began developing an ever growing and evolving array of original program offerings as well as collaborative programs with numerous other organizations.  During this time we called together our core group of supporters and assembled a board, and in January of 2013 HNS was granted 501(c)3 non –profit status.