Herbal Apprenticeships


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So, you want to learn the fine art of Herbalism ?

Perhaps this is the opportunity
you've been looking for.

Apprenticeship / Intern Program
After recieving many requests for information about my apprenticeship program.... I am going to turn things around a bit, now that I've gotten this page finalized. Please take the specifics of this page seriously, and provide the information I have requested here, if you want to have your application considered seriously. I am a serious herbalist.

First, I will need a written letter of request from you. (an e-mail letter is fine). This letter should include some background information about yourself, and information about why you want to study herbs and herbalism. If you have studied herbal medicine previously, please list your teachers and the dates you attended their classes.

Second, If I take someone on as an apprentice, that person must be commited to being involved in the program for an entire nine month period.

The best time to begin an apprenticeship is at the beginning of February, after the holidays are behind us, and just before spring comes to the Sonoran desert. This allows the student apprentice to travel with the spring field trip, to observe a wide diversity of plant life.

My teaching centers around ethical wildcrafting and medicine-making procedures, and also includes many skills which are required to conduct clinical consultations. I also teach some smaller, short classes, which include soapmaking, medicine-making, and procedures for making many other types of herbal products.

I have a rather large garden (of mostly herbs), in which an apprentice would be required to do some hands-on work... mainly related to how to grow medicinal plants. Many growing techniques used here in the semi-arid regions of the Southwest, are in many ways, quite different from others used in areas of higher annual precipitaion or humidity.

Apprentices are required to select and grow 2 plants (from a list of plants we want to grow or propagate), from seed to harvest, and will then make 2 medicines from each. This is an example of how the apprenticeship is designed, to provide practical, easily-reached goals, which can later be applied in your own herbal practice.

Apprentices are introduced to several herbal data bases, authoritative texts, and are shown how to do research, so that later, after the apprenticeship has passed, they will have a way to get more and more information by themselves, to facilitate continuing information gathering, learning and growth in their own herbalism.

Some physiology will be taught, relating to the ways in which herbs affect human physiology.

Apprentices are required to find their own living arrangements here. I require apprentices to have an adequate living arrangement. In other words, we ask that you not "camp out" in the woods while you attend this apprenticeship, because this can cause unexpected problems. Adequate living arrangements, such as apartments, roommate situations, and rooms may be found with a little investigation, here in Silver City. It is suggested that the prospective apprentice make living arrangements as soon as possible after acceptance to the program. As you can see, for many reasons, it is necessary that apprentices come to the program with ample extra monies to support themselves for most of a year.

The apprentice must be punctual... observing class hours and days... 2 days per week, and some weekend (or longer) wildcrafting trips.
This means, that if an apprentice needs to get a job to supplement his or her savings while going through the apprenticeship, it must be a flexible one, which will allow the student to take time off for special trips out into the wild areas to observe and gather herbs! The apprenticeship MUST remain your primary focus. Small class size allows some flexibility, but the apprenticeship must be the priority in most instances.

Much of the time, in the beginning of the apprenticeship, is spent learning basic medicine-making techinques. These will likely seem unfamilar, but as time goes by, these processes will become more and more familiar, and also more complex. Most apprentices have been able to master each technique with a bit of practice. Learning these basic techniques will prove valuable right away; allowing you to start right away to make medicines on our field trips, and to begin building your own herbal pharmacy.

It is a given that you will need some extra funds with which to purchase organic grain ethanol, with which to make these fresh plant extracts. Currently a 5 gallon container costs a bit over $400.00, but this expense can much less if purchasing only a gallon or two at intervals.

After awhile, apprentices will be required to demonstrate their knowledge of these techniques, by making certain herbal items from basic herbs and other materials. These will include demonstrating a percolation extract, and masceration extract, (including the basic math). (Relax, this is merely simple math, not calculus, or quantum physics, and the whole process is designed to build your confidence.) I do not give written tests, but instead will usually ask you to demonstrate or explain materials or processes.

Approximately 250 herbs will be discussed, regarding uses, dosages, and methods of preparation, and the various applications of each. The apprentice will be introduced to many different herbs each week during the course of study. Each will become a familiar "plant ally", as their particular physiological and/or psychological effects upon the human body are learned.

My goals for the sucessful apprentice upon completion of this program include: each apprentice will be able to identify and ethically wildcraft herbs from the wild areas, competently formulate and make many types of herbal medicines, and have some relationship to growing their own medicinal plants. The graduate will be able to begin to evaluate clients, (using intake forms, questioning methods, and other observational data).

A methodology of questioning clients will be taught, which will enable the apprentice to rapidly combine all the information into some rather specific idea(s) about the probable condition of the client... (we will refrain from calling it diagnosing). And then be able to delve into their repertoire of the historical uses of these herbs and their associated effects, to decide which herb(s) may be appropriate for the symptoms and underlying causes of the clients condition(s).

Finally, apprentices will learn how to present the available choices to the client, sharing information about the advantages and disadvantages of each, allowing the client to direct them about what course of action (if any) with which they wish to procede.

Extensive information about the root causes of disease in humans will be discussed extensively thoroughout the course.

At times during the course, (after learning about Ethical Wildcrafting and the environmental impact issues regarding plant collection), some opportunities may be offered to earn some supplemental income by doing wildcrafting for me. However, you should not count on this when figuring your budget for the 9 month class.

I sometimes work with other herbalists in the local area to create special topic, roundtable discussions with actual case studies. From these roundtables, an apprentice will be able to discover which herbs work most effectively in which situations. In addition, these discussions will hopefully result in creation of treatment protocols and dietary protocols for each illness or class of illness, which will be invaluable later in an herbal practice.

Each prospective apprentice must have a reliable vehicle which is capable of driving to areas of mountainous and desert regions on field excursions.
(I will not be supplying transportation on the field trips, except perhaps some shorter day trips.)

The last, (but not least important) thing is the cost of the program. The cost of this training for 9 months is $3,000.00 (three thousand dollars), which must be paid in two parts, as follows:

You MUST give this careful consideration

Initial enrollment fee is $300.00. This is a non-refundable deposit to hold your seat in this years classes, and to assure me that you are sincerely interested in attending. Then, by the first day of classes, the remainder, ($2,700.00) is due.

After payment has been recieved, there is always a trial period of one month, (during which a refund of $2,700 is possible, should there be a personality conflict or other unavoidable reasons for termination of the apprenticeship.) After the 30 day "trial period" has passed, no refunds will be given.

Unexpected emergency family situations or other serious events beyond the apprentice's control which necessitate early termination of the apprenticeship would be considered as valid reasons for partial refunds of the tuition costs.

The main thing I'm trying to get across here is that: should you wish to apply for the apprenticeship, and are accepted, I will wish for your learning process to continue on, uninterrupted, to its completion. I want my students to be successful and knowledgeable in their future herbal practices and endeavors.

I never have had more than 3 or 4 apprentices simultaneously, since I believe in as much direct student / teacher training as possible. I prefer teaching by demonstration and through practical, hands-on experience, rather than relying on book materials alone. Also, it is recommended that the prospective apprentice purchase a few books from time to time during the apprenticeship, in order to support the ablilty to understand physiological processes, terminology, and as basic plant identification and plant constituent references. (The cost for these will not usually exceed $300 unless you're a "book junkie" :-). Some of these books may be purchased from local bookstore or university book store inventories.

If this sounds like a program which would work for you, and you really have the determination to see it through to its completion, then please do send me your letter of application. (Note:) If the available apprenticeships have been filled for the year, we will place a notice at the beginning of this page, but will still leave the text.)

With kind regards,

Richard McDonald, C.H.
Clinical Herbalist
Owner, Desert Bloom Herbs


Richard McDonald, C.H.,
c/o Desert Bloom Herbs
1606 N. Florida
Silver City, NM., 88061

phone: 505-388-3542

email: Desert Bloom Herbs

website: http://www.desertbloomherbs.com

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