Employment & Internships
What is Nature Connection Mentoring?
“From my experience, and the experience of many other outdoor educators, connection to the natural world results in a greater vitality, a zest for life, and ultimately an emergence of the genius inherent in each individual. Through that relationship, we essentially discover and connect with an aspect of our human selves that isn’t accessible in any other way.”
~ Clint Corley, Founder & Executive Director
In all Forest Floor programs, our intention is to help children develop a deeper relationship with the natural world. We do this through an approach called Nature Connection Mentoring.
In this work, we follow children’s innate passions and curiosities and guide them towards finding their own answers… and towards ever more questions. We rarely begin by giving information, and we don’t have standard academic goals. Our objectives focus on students’ personal development and on the relationships they build—to nature, to each other, and to themselves.
With Nature Connection Mentoring, we first aim to get children to passionately want to know more. Getting kids to that point through story, role-modeling, full-sensory experiences, games, and adventure, and then delivering pertinent information, is the basis of the work that we do. Even then, we track not only how well the lesson was learned, but also its deeper impact on the learners.
We celebrate with our students when they learn to identify edible plants, recognize tracks and bird songs, safely build and tend fires, understand ecological relationships, and more. To us, though, these skills are all means to a larger end. Their value lies in the empowerment and enlivenment they bring to those who practice them, in the natural relationships they build, and in the way they inspire respect and care for the natural world.
When we examine the success of our programs, we ask ourselves whether the young people we serve are experiencing more joy, energy, aliveness, inner peace, eagerness to contribute to life, and understanding of their true selves and the gifts they carry. Even if they forget the information we teach them, we hope they can carry those attributes with them for the rest of their lives, living fully and changing the world for the better.
If you work with us, you may find yourself learning not just how to deliver information about the natural world, but also how to lead games, tell stories, ask inspiring questions, improvise, adapt, work with what nature gives you, and serve as a role model for students through your own connection journey and your way of being.
One of the best resources for learning more about this work is a book called Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. It’s the “textbook” we use to guide us on this journey… and an inspiring read for anyone interested in how we relate to the world around us.
And if you want to dive deeper into the teaching model that underlies all of our programs watch this introductory video about the 8 Shields Model.
Are you intrigued? See below for pathways to working with us and experiencing this approach.
Forest Floor welcomes open-minded and enthusiastic lovers of the natural world to intern with our children’s nature connection programs in Asheville, NC. We are a fully experiential program, so both children and instructors truly engage with the natural world, practice earth-based skills, and come alive with curiosity!
Interns learn through experience how to be nature connection mentors. Romping through creeks, playing nature-themed games, and building their personal wilderness skills, interns observe and assist our skilled instructors and their students. We welcome adult interns, as well as teens (ages 16 and up) with wilderness experience, to join us in an engaging learning environment offering both challenge and growth.
Interns are not expected or required to lead children’s activities—just to participate in games and activities, engage with the kids, and model being curious and enthusiastic. However, if you want to hone your skills as a nature connection mentor, our staff team can provide you opportunities to lead a game, teach a skill, tell a story, or otherwise try out a new level of mentoring.
We have many intern spots available during our summer camps. If you’re available for one or more weeks between early June and mid-August, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm, reach out and let us know.
We also accept interns in our school-year homeschool programs. These programs meet weekly throughout a season, and interns need to be available for at least five days of one program.
Our internships are unpaid, and they don’t guarantee future employment with Forest Floor. What you can expect is that, through engaging with our programs and learning alongside our students, you’ll come to feel more at home in the natural world, build relationships within our rich community of passionate naturalists and educators, increase your confidence as a youth mentor, and perhaps experience personal growth along the way. Meanwhile, your participation in staff meetings and field experiences will serve as professional development that may increase potential for future employment with Forest Floor or other nature connection organizations.
If you’re an adult with experience in wilderness skills and working with youth, we may have a place for you on our staff team.
Our most frequent job opportunities are for summer camp staff. These positions last from early June to mid-August and require availability Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm.
If our programs and methods sound exciting to you, tell us about yourself by filling out an application for summer camp positions or for school-year programs… and reach out to [email protected] with any questions.
We also have intern positions available throughout the year for those that are eager to learn about this way of working with children—see the “Internships” section above for details.