Staff Biographies

jy larger photoJon Young – Founder, Speaker, Author

Since 1983, Jon has been mentoring folks in the nearly lost art of understanding bird and animal language. Just as science is beginning to see the credibility in this ancient skill, Jon has been leading communities world-wide to get these skills back through lectures, workshops, media—but mostly through training and mentoring.

Jon’s leading-edge work on bird language has been posted in magazine articles and in books including: What the Robin Knows, Animal Tracking Basics, Coyotes Guide to Connecting with Nature, BirdTalk and Exploring Natural Mysteries, and is the subject of popular audio CD series including Seeing Through Native Eyes and Advanced Bird Language.

Core Staff


Garret Conway – Programs Director

For over 15  years, Garret has been dedicated to the healing potential and power of nature connection experiences. He has worked extensively with a diversity of communities all over the world and has directed wilderness leadership training programs, summer camps, after school outdoor programs, university programs, and a family resource center.

With an MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and Wilderness Therapy from Naropa University, Garret has taught Ecopsychology, Wilderness Therapy, and Bioregionalism and Sustainable Living with The Sierra Institute and has served as a Clinical Supervisor and Therapist for struggling families. 

Garret is a co-founder of The Wilderness Within, a wilderness rites of passage organization in California. His passion lies in relationship as a spiritual practice, being a father, healing through music, and  in the ways the old wisdom tradition’s and culture’s community practices inform modern healing and global cultural transformation. He incorporates Gestalt, Somatic, Experiential, Family Systems, Mindfulness, and Transpersonal philosophies as well as nature-based cultural healing or Ecotherapy interventions in his work. Garret currently serves as the Programs Director at 8 Shields, teaches through UC Davis, and has a private practice in Santa Cruz, CA .



Sal Gencarelle – Advanced Connection Practices Facilitator

At the age of 15 Salvatore Gencarelle was called to walk the ceremonial path of healing and renewal and became an assistant to a Native American Medicine Man from the Lakota Sioux Tribe. Through his experience, Salvatore became a cultural bridge between indigenous ceremonial traditions and the modern world. During his training he went through an intensive mentoring period that required both dedication and sacrifice for 17 years as a ceremonial guide, creator, singer, and mentor, under the direct supervision of the Native American healer. It was through this process he earned the responsibility to pass these teachings on to all people.

Beside his education in traditional healing practices, Salvatore also works in the healing applications of the modern world as a Paramedic with over 16 years of experience. He is also an artist, photographer, freelance writer, and a musician. At this time Salvatore currently travels across the United States and the world teaching and helping others learn from his experience.

Visit Sal’s site to learn about his book at:


josh coffee shop fullJosh Lane – Mentoring Specialist

Josh brings a passion for sharing wildlife tracking and bird language skills through mentoring. He has been a  longtime lead mentor for Village Talk, a weekly conversation in nature connection mentoring best practices with community leaders from around the globe.

Josh is an accomplished naturalist and tracker, gifted storyteller and skilled mentor with ten years of experience as a professional mentor and product design specialist for OWLink Media. Josh is a co-author of the Backyard Bird Language and The 8 Gifts From Nature online courses, appears in the instructional DVD Bird Language with Jon Young, and contributed to developing the “How to Learn Bird Language” appendix in the book, What the Robin Knows.




Intensive Program Facilitators


Lauren Dalberth – Art of Mentoring, Bird Language Weeklong

Lauren is a core facilitator, co-founder and principal designer for Weaving Earth, a Permaculture design firm specializing in Holistic Landscape Design, Nature Awareness & Permaculture Education Services, Garden Coaching and Nature Mentoring. She has been working and learning in the field for over 10 years and brings a deep commitment and strong background to her work.

As an Educator and Permaculture designer, Lauren’s intention is to revive and foster the vital relationship that humans play in the creation and regeneration of healthy ecosystems, both on the land and in the community. Her work in the world is a call to humanity to once again step into our role as caretakers of the earth and do our part to create fertile, abundant and regenerative ecosystems for the future generations to enjoy. Her in- depth work facilitating the Art of Mentoring and Cultural Mentoring models are a strong seed toward that vision. Lauren’s deep curiosity and love of life keep her learning new things in each moment! (

Dan Fontaine – Bird Language Weeklong

Dan is a regular lead facilitator and keynote at our annual Bird Language weeklong workshop. Dan is the executive director of the Wilderness Youth Project – a nature connection mentoring non-profit organization in Santa Barbara, California and an affiliate of the 8 Shields Institute. His background includes avian field work with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations. Dan is also a graduate of the Kamana Naturalist Training Program.

dan-gardoqui-swampDan GardoquiBird Language Leaders

Dan Gardoqui has served as Science Faculty at Granite State College for over a decade. He was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Award  for his dynamic courses in natural history and field ecology. Dan holds an M.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire and has contributed to a range of wildlife studies – from flying squirrels to Canada Lnyx.

Dan is a co-founder and executive director of White Pine Programs, where he’s been  blending his passion for science and academia with his wilderness roots in wildlife tracking, hunting, natural history and bird language through a diverse offerings of nature-connection programs for all ages since 1999. His certifications include: Registered Maine Guide, Wilderness First Responder, and Certified Wildlife Tracker.

Dan has served as a bird language consultant for the National Audubon Society, Boston Museum of Science, is science and audio editor for “What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World,” and has led workshops, field expeditions, and intensives throughout North America on wildlife tracking and bird language for over two decades.

Dave Hage – Art of Mentoring & Bird Language Weeklong

Since discovering Permaculture and tracking as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay in 2000, Dave has continued, both personally and professionally, down a path of exploration in the realm of Regenerative Community Design. In 2005 he was a part of the pioneering class of the Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness program (RDNA), the first intensive of its kind to blend the fields of Permaculture and Nature Connection into one program. Currently Dave is co-founder and core staff at Weaving Earth in Northern California.

His passion and enthusiasm for working with people of all ages, helping them connect to nature, and to their true, powerful selves, make Dave a potent teacher and an effective mentor.


Mark Morey – Art of Mentoring

Mark is a creative artist, visionary educator, cultural engineer, and consultant who designs regenerative holistic communities with timeless native principles. He founded or co-founded three transformational organizations in the last 15 years: Deep Wilds, Vermont Wilderness School, and the Institute for Natural Learning, sparking a nature and community awareness movement in the Northeast impacting 5,000 adults and children today.

Mark has facilitated wilderness survival and spiritual passages for teens and adults since 1997, including over 40 week-long Art of Mentoring programs for adults, and 7 years of Sacred Fire rites of passage for teen boys. Mark feels inspired by the hero’s journey model and the oral history of his ancestors and native people around the world. Mark’s passion for environmental healing and consciousness has gained him wide recognition as a leader in earth centered learning.

Will Scott ~ Art of Mentoring, Bird Language Intensive

will scott cattails bio photoWill is a teacher, naturalist, wilderness guide, facilitator and longtime student of the human-nature relationship. He is a co-founder and core facilitator at the Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education in Sonoma County, CA. Will received his masters in holistic and experiential education from Prescott college, where he focused his studies on the essential components of an “education for our times.” He is also a wilderness-based rites of passage guide and trainer working with the School of Lost Borders in Big Pine, CA.
As a whole-systems thinker and designer, Will has focused on the human relationship with the natural world as the key element to be addressed and healed in these times. His passion is to discover, facilitate and participate in the journey from a paradigm of separation and disconnection towards one of regenerative interconnection and wholeness.

Caitlin Williams ~ Art of Mentoring & Intensives

Caitlin WilliamsCaitlin C. Williams is a fun-loving, 20-year veteran of wilderness and nature leadership. She specializes in wildlife tracking and the human experience of relationship with nature; Caitlin holds a Track and Sign Level III and a Tracker Level II from Cyber Tracker International and has worked and volunteered for many wildlife studies, where her tracking expertise helped with conservation efforts of key species and habitats. She also has founded and co-founded two organizations for the preservation of and engagement with nature, Connectivity for Wildlife and Knowing Wild. Caitlin is also a published poet, songwriter and musician.

Caitlin has honored her own Cherokee lineage by tending close relationships with many indigenous people of the United States. She integrates traditional native teachings and practices into her style of tracking, teaching and coaching. She has run many initiatory experiences for adults and children including 30 Adult Art of Mentoring experiences and countless camps, yearlong immersions, school programs, deep wilderness adventures and home school nature experiences. Caitlin has put herself through intensive coaching and mentoring in business, tracking and nature and she brings the knowledge she collected from those experiences as well as her own highly developed sense of fun and play to all her programs. Caitlin is also a proud nanny having given loving care to seven infants the oldest of whom is now 19. She continues to be auntie and family friend to all seven of her charges.