If you think Portland is nothing more than a bunch of yuppies, you haven’t met the staff at Trackers Earth. Trackers Earth, formally Trackers NW, is an organization based in Portland, Ore., that is part outdoor education program, part wilderness survival program, part environmental activist group, and part sustainable living collective.
Founded a little over five years ago by Tony Deis, Trackers Earth attracts about 2,000 participants each year. Students of Trackers Earth come from all walks of life and age groups. At Trackers Earth, participants learn how to build a boat, how to identify edible plants, how to hunt, first aid, wilderness survival, and, of course, tracking. Participants are given very few tools – usually just a sturdy hunting knife, flashlight, and knowledge of their environment.
Deis recently spoke with Peter-Frick Wright from The Oregonian about the role Trackers Earth can play in people’s lives:
“People are lacking a connection to the natural world,” Deis told The Oregonian. “We wanted to find a way to develop that.”
Trackers Earth has satellite locations in Seattle and Bend, but Deis said that starting the organization in Portland was a must.
“It has more to do with what’s special about Portland than with Trackers. We couldn’t have started anywhere else.”
Trackers Earth isn’t just for adults, either. The youth classes are extensive and include woodworking, nature programs, art programs, afterschool programs, winter and spring break programs, summer camp, and home school outdoors programs. There are even scholarship programs available for kids of low-income families.
“Kids aren’t given the opportunity to do real things anymore,” Deis told The Oregonian, saying that Trackers Earth allows kids to “interact with their world in a grand way”.
For more information, visit the Trackers Earth website.