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.

Frank SherwoodFrank grew up hunting and fishing in the Northwest. He has a recreational leadership degree and specializes in teaching bow making, traditional tanning, and wilderness survival courses to a diversity of students, including military, law enforcement agencies, the Boy Scouts, and children. To keep current with his own level of expertise, Frank has studied with some of the leading primitive technologists in this country including Steve Allely, Errett Callahan, Jack Cresson, Jim Hamm, Dan Stueber, and Charles Worsham. Frank’s mastery of skills, and his ability to help others master skills of their own, makes him a unique and effective professional.

Karen SherwoodKaren is a Northwest native who grew up studying the flora of the Pacific Northwest. While studying at the University of Washington, she was hired by Tom Brown Jr. to develop and expand the wild foods curriculum for the Tracker School. Karen gained a strong understanding of traditional uses of wild plants while teaching there. Since returning home to the Northwest, she continues to teach ethnobotany programs through Earthwalk Northwest and other organizations such as the Department of Ecology, Washington Outdoor Women, King County Parks and The Earth Mentoring Institute. In addition to her botany background, Karen also spent many years in search and rescue, fine tuning her wilderness survival skills. To balance her expertise, she also teaches utilitarian uses of plants, including cordage and natural plant dyes. Her professionalism and credibility are enhanced by a special gift for helping students become confident and comfortable with harvesting and using plants. Her current passion is teaching about the vast and wondrous uses of seaweeds, as well as traditional Northwest basketry.

As founders of Earthwalk Northwest, Frank and Karen provide internationally known programs where students feel safe and successful learning primitive skills. The thousands of students they have taught will confirm their passionate interest in learning and passing on the ancient art of living from, and caretaking for, the earth. Together, they are a competent and effective team for helping others discover the excitement of mastering primitive living skills.

Frank and Karen are supportive of organizations that help promote earth awareness and responsible stewardship. They are currently on the board of directors for the Foundation for Funding Nature’s Defenders as well as supporters of Washington Outdoor Women, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Washington Native Plant Society. They volunteer their time annually to teach traditional skills at the American Indian Health Conference in California.

Dan Stueber: Dan Stueber, expert flintknapper and practitioner of primitive skills, joins to teach our lithic technologies courses. He brings with him over 20 years experience and expertise analyzing and replicating lithic materials. A drummer by trade, Dan continues his percussion work in stone to create some of the most stunning arrowheads and stone knives we have seen. We know you will enjoy his vast knowledge, friendly manner, and endless enthusiasm for this craft.

Bart Moody: Bart is a 17 year law enforcement veteran who has been tracking animals and humans for most of that time. He works with the police K-9 Unit and has been called upon by many law enforcement agencies to assist with crime scenes as well as tracking missing persons. To add to his extensive background, Bart has attended numerous tracking institutes throughout the United States and has also studied with South African trackers. He brings with him a great sense of humor and a deep passion for teaching.

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.

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 student in many programs 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: I’ve held a life-long interest in primitive skills but opportunity and circumstance prevented me from actively learning and practicing anything until 1995, when Tom Brown started offering his Standard Class in California and I was able to attend.  At that class, I found I was adept at creating fire by friction, an art that I have taught at my home; for 2 years in Montesano, WA, for the continuing adult education program; and for the past 9 years at the Earthwalk Gathering.  In 1998, I began taking classes with Earthwalk Northwest and since then have taken all of the multi-day courses, plus a number of one day classes.  In 1998 I took my first flint knapping class with Dan Stueber, through Earthwalk, and over time took two more from him as well as one from Craig Ratzat, who operates Neolithics out of Quapaw, OK.  About 3 years ago I decided to put the flintknapping classes to use and have progressed to some competence today.   In 2000, I took the Earthwalk wooden Bow Making class, fell in love with the process and began to make bows at home out whatever wood was handy to me.  In 2001, I took a bow class from bow maker Jay St. Charles.  I have held a bow making fundamentals class at the Earthwalk Gathering since 2007 and have assisted Frank with the regular Earthwalk bow classes for the past several years.  I was born in 1945 and am currently retired.

Charisse BallardCharisse Ballard: Charisse’s interest in Primitive Skills began as a child. Her formal education began at Tracker school, where she has taken many classes. Charisse woman’s the office here , in between continuing her pursuits of learning skills. She joined us in 2010 when she was a student in our Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program. She continues to assist Karen with our Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program and other ethnobotany classes that Karen teaches for Washington Conservation Corps and Washington Outdoor Women. Charisse has also taken our Primitive Living Skills Apprenticeship and many of our day and weekend classes.