History & Instructors

Frank and Karen Sherwood founded Earthwalk Northwest in 1995.  Both served as head instructors at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School on the East Coast for over 15 years. While there, they not only taught primitive living skills to thousands of students, but also developed and taught additional programs which they now continue through Earthwalk Northwest.

Primary Instructors

Frank SherwoodFrank grew up hunting and fishing in the Northwest. He was introduced to ancestral living skills by renowned tracker and wilderness survival expert Tom Brown Jr. shortly after his Tracker School opened in 1978. Frank joined the Tracker School in New Jersey in 1979 and soon became head instructor. In addition to teaching a variety of classes, Frank used his outdoor skills training to help local authorities locate missing persons. After 16 years with the Tracker School, he returned to Washington to start Earthwalk Northwest with his wife, Karen.

Frank now leads the Path of the Hunter Mentoring program and co-teaches the Ancestral Living Skills Apprenticeship program. He specializes in teaching skills such as bow making, traditional tanning, and wilderness survival. Over the past 35 years, he has taught thousands of students of all ages and from all walks of life, ranging from the military to law enforcement agencies to the Boy Scouts.

Frank has a recreational leadership degree and has studied with some of the leading primitive technologists in this country, including Steve Allely, Errett Callahan, Jack Cresson, Jim Hamm, and Charles Worsham. He completed Washington State Hunter’s Education and Advanced Bow Hunter Education training, and earned a Master Hunter designation.

Frank is a trained citizen volunteer with Washington State’s “Eyes in the Woods” program and a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Frank’s depth of experience, professionalism, and his ability to help others master skills of their own, make him a unique and effective teacher.

Karen SherwoodKaren is a Pacific Northwest native whose family spent most of their free time outdoors. She started backpacking, camping, fishing and hunting at an early age and shared her father’s affinity for all things growing. At 16, she met the rigorous qualifications for search and rescue where she participated in searches including mountain rescue as well as homicide cases. While studying ethnobotany at the University of Washington, the renowned tracker and wilderness survival expert Tom Brown Jr. hired Karen to expand and teach the wild foods curriculum at his Tracker School.

After 15 years with the Tracker School, Karen returned to Washington to start Earthwalk Northwest with her husband, Frank. Karen is the lead instructor for the Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program and co-instructor for the Ancestral Living Skills Apprenticeship program. In addition to wild edible and medicinal plants, her specialty areas of teaching include the vast and wondrous uses of seaweeds, as well as traditional Northwest basketry. Currently, her passions consist of the utilitarian uses of plants, including cordage, net making and natural plant dyes.

She has taught custom courses for numerous organizations, such as the Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington Outdoor Women, King County Parks, the Hyde School Wilderness Challenge Week, Ashland Wilderness Charter School, and The Earth Mentoring Institute. Since 1998, she has served as a volunteer instructor for the Washington Outdoor Women. She also teaches for and holds leadership positions with the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild.

Karen is widely-respected plant expert and has assisted many outdoor skills schools and organizations with developing their curricula. Her professionalism and credibility are enhanced by a special gift for helping students become confident and comfortable with ethically harvesting and using plants.

Adjunct Instructors

Joe Roush: Joe was bitten by the “wild” bug at the tender age of 8 when his father told him he could make a whistle from a willow branch and lemonade out of sumac berries. Joe’s pursuit of willow whistles and sumac lemonade sent him on a lifelong journey of nature study that included a Bachelor’s degree in forest science and a 20-year career as a naturalist, forester and arborist, all the while never giving up his true interest in wild edible plants and primitive skills. When he’s not saving and planting trees as Olympia’s urban forester, Joe spends his time hiking in the wilds of Washington, eating wild foods, and teaching grade school students how to make whistles out of willow branches and lemonade out of sumac berries.

Mike Isaac: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Mike was watching steelhead before he was 7 years old. He had his own drift boat before he was old enough to drive a car, and by the time he was out of high school, Mike was catching (and releasing) dozens of steelhead each season. His passion for angling led him into the tackle industry, where he has worked as a salesman, tester, and developer. Mike was also a Washington State Steelhead Guide, as well as a professional fishing guide in Alaska. An outstanding educator, Mike specializes in teaching fishing techniques, streamside entomology, fly casting, and his “On The Water” clinics. You may have even seen Mike in his guest appearance on the hunting show “Upland Days with Dez and Dash”, as it aired on the Outdoor Life Network. Angling students of all levels will be blown away by the depth of knowledge Mike Isaac has to share with them as our Fishing Specialist in The Path of The Hunter Mentoring Program.

Rod Shroufe: Rod grew up in Indiana.  He was outdoors exploring, hunting, fishing and trapping from a very young age with his field biologist father.  His love of the outdoors and sharing his experiences with people led him from a career as a fish and wildlife biologist to a career as an environmental science teacher in the Pacific Northwest.  Rod has always had a passion for primitive technologies and skills.  He enjoys teaching primitive skills to his high school students to inspire their love and appreciation for the outdoors and environment.

Guest Instructors

Jennifer ThamesJennifer Thames: A northwest native, J.T. enjoys transforming her years of local plant experience into practical herbal preparations. The author of Ravencroft Garden’s Slow Medicine column and the Mystery Plant series for student of all ages, J.T. is also the creator and teacher of the Hands-on Herbalism series. J.T. has worn many hats throughout her years with us, from being a student to working in the office and currently assisting with our Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program.
Howard Schwartz: Howard grew up in the Pacific Northwest where at an early age he developed both a passion for the outdoors and an interest in designing and creating his own outdoor equipment. His love of the woods eventually led him to become a student at Earthwalk Northwest and his quest for the perfect knife eventually led him to the study of Blacksmithing. After teaching workshops at the Gathering for several years he began teaching Blacksmithing to the Apprenticeship students which finally led to the creation of the Backyard Blacksmithing Class. When he’s not in the woods or in his garage working on his latest creation, Howard practices law in Yakima, Washington where he currently resides with his family.
Donn ParisDonn Paris: Donn has held a life-long interest in primitive skills. A student of Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School, Donn began teaching the art of fire by friction as part of a continuing adult education program and at Earthwalk Northwest’s summer Gatherings. In 1998, he began taking classes with Earthwalk Northwest and has since taken all of the multi-day courses, plus a number of day classes. In addition to developing competency in flintknapping, Donn also fell in love with bow making and began to make bows at home out of whatever wood was handy. He has taught a bow making fundamentals class at the Earthwalk Gathering since 2007 and assists Frank with the regular Earthwalk Bow Making class.