“Women of the Forest includes so many things: science, art, community and self-development. After several years of participating in Earth Arts programs, my daughters are familiar with the plants and animals that they encounter in their surroundings and they want to know more. They have an appreciation for their ecosystem and they want to help it thrive. They can gather natural materials, like clay and plants and rocks, and make pots and cordage and medicine. They are part of a group of girls and women who are different from the usual school crowd. Common interests that center on being outside drive their activities, not cliques and classroom competition. My daughters are very different: one is quiet, looking inward and the other one talks and thinks at the same time. The community at Earth Arts, guided by mentors who are loving and thoughtful, has helped both of my girls to become more themselves, to flourish as confident leaders in their own ways. A typical Women of the Forest gathering ends in a circle around a fire that the young women build themselves after a day spent exploring in the woods, playing games, making things, decorating their faces with mud. Everyone brings an ingredient to add to a big pot of soup that they cook together. And they eat and laugh and sing and pass around a talking stick to take turns sharing a highlight of their day. Does this all sound too ‘Kumbayah?’ Well, it is. And that’s a good thing.”