The Acorn team

‘The creation of a thousand forests are in one acorn.’

We are delighted to have such a wonderful, experienced and inspiring group of facilitators for this event. Read more about the team………

Jon Young


Jon Young was mentored at a young age by Tom Brown Jr who was mentored by an Apache Shaman and Scout, Grandfather Stalking Wolf. He developed a keen and advanced connection to nature because of this mentoring. Jon began his work in anthropology over 30 years ago and has been spending time with indigenous people around the world ever since. From his observations and experiences he has seen how all these people have cultural similarities and customs. It is from these observations that he realised these earth-based peoples’ customs and practices created and sustained something that is often missing in our own culture ~ connection to nature, to ourselves and to each other. Jon is an author, mentor,  and founder of the 8 Shields Institute.

Rebecca Card


Rebecca is a Guide, Facilitator and Ceremonialist of Nature-based Wisdom, Culture Repair and Soul Initiation. She is a qualified and experienced Yoga teacher, Meditation Instructor and Somatic Movement educator. Her encounters with the other-than-human world and the tracking of the souls’ journey inspire her poetry writing. She has trained in the ways of Apache Scout and Shaman, Grandfather Stalking Wolf and is involved with the 8 Shields UK and is part of the Village Builders cultural mentoring team, working at a regional and national level. She has convened and facilitated on a number of 8 Shields events. Rebecca has also participated in a number of Animas Valley Institute programs both in the U.S. and here in the U.K. and has trained as a Wilderness Rites of Passage Guide with The School of Lost Borders. She offers one-to-one mentoring and guide work for rites of passage, including Vision Fasts and Medicine Walks & Council as well as deep nature connection where she is based on Dartmoor. She believes in the power of ceremony, community and sitting in circle for deep healing and authentic connection. Her passion is in the re-membering of Wholeness and finding creative ways to explore that. She writes a monthly(ish) blog:

Peter Cow

smiling-smallerPeter is an international permaculture facilitator and trainer. He helped set up an eco community
in Devon in 2000 (Steward Community Woodland), and lived, played and learnt in that ‘village’ for 7 years. He leads 8 Shields Introduction weekends, Permaculture Design Courses, Nature Connection events and ‘People and Permaculture’ trainings around Europe and beyond, passionately sharing and embodying patterns of good communication and group collaboration. He is lead coordinator for the 2017 Art of Mentoring week.A keen singer songwriter and conscious culture designer, Peter is deeply involved in the 8 Shields Britain network and is currently part of the Village Builders cultural mentoring team, working on a regional and national level. He is deeply inspired by the 8 Shields indigenous wisdom and cultural models, and weaves this into all his events.

Klaudia van Gool


Klaudia has worked in the environmental field for nearly twenty years advising and training businesses on environmental improvement systems, auditing and social responsibility. She also uses the sustainable design system of Permaculture to teach, mentor and tutor individuals and provides land-based and non-land-based designs. She has a particular interest in People Care design. In addition to these skills, her areas of expertise include facilitation of deep nature connection, Active Hope, a deep ecology based motivational work, resilience practices, eco-constellations and she holds the Inipi, Lakota tradition Sweat lodges and related ceremonies for healing and environmental change. She is interested in wild foods & medicines, gardening and exploring ceremony. More info:


Robin Bowman


Birder, wilderness lover and researcher of early human history, Robin runs Nature Connection and Bushcraft events and camps with a variety of schools and organisations, including Schumacher College, WildWise and Embercombe. Robin was also one of the founding members of Landmatters Permaculture Community. He currently runs Hunger Games themed camps for teenagers through WildWise as well as working with young prisoners and recovering adult addicts for the charity Write to Freedom. In his spare time he lives with his young family in the middle of Dartmoor running a smallholding and managing a large woodland. Robin shares his skills, knowledge and experience with passion and humour.

Jack Payne-Cook

jack-in-canoeJack jumped headfirst into a year’s apprenticeship at the social enterprise Embercombe, falling hopelessly in love with the natural world. From there he went on to spend a year on the Anake Program at The Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA,  immersed in the 8-shields model and gained a naturalist certification from the school. He cares deeply about restoring our natural connections and awareness of Nature, fostering healthy communities and is exploring what it means to be a protector for the more-than-human ecology at this time of the world. He loves to move and play like an animal, make fire like his ancestors and listen to what the birds say.

Dr Deborah Benham

Deborah has been a student of Jon Young’s, deb-benham_0
and involved with 8 Shields and
Art of Mentoring since 2011. She is currently part of the 8 Shields Global Leadership Programme; and closely involved with setting up 8 Shields UK. Deborah has a PhD in wildlife conservation, environmental education and the people/nature interface. After 15 years working in this field she moved into broader areas of regenerative culture and design for sustainability; with a particular interest in social sustainability and social enterprise. She is Managing Director of the Newbold Trust, a retreat and education centre for sustainable living and wellbeing in NE Scotland. Prior to this she founded and ran Wild at Heart, providing nature connection programmes, ecotourism consultancy and wildlife guide trainings. She now offers consultancy, trainings and workshops in nature connection, regenerative culture, sustainability and youth empowerment.

David Smart Knight

david-smartknightFollowing a thriving career as a communications consultant managing international projects, events and conferences, 25 years ago David began to ask: “What does it mean to live sustainability?”. This enquiry has resulted in studying & applying Permaculture, shamanism, Non-Violent Communication, storytelling, teaching and social enterprise. It has also seen David run a smallholding, plant and manage coppice, make greenwood furniture, keep livestock and hold ceremonies, all of which he has woven into his second career as an environmental educator, devising and delivering a European-wide environmental education teacher training program, creating and piloting a curriculum for secondary schools with sustainability as their core context, establishing two award-winning Environmental Education Centres and running eco-build projects as community empowerment exercises.
Concluding that “sustainability” by necessity requires both personal fulfilment and social justice, David wholeheartedly supports and promotes 8 Shields’ work, incorporating nature connection and culture repair into his own life and activities.

Phil Greenwood

philgaiaOver the last 16 years Phil has been immersed in practicing, studying and teaching the core routines of nature connection through the lineage of Grandfather Stalking Wolf, Tom Brown junior, Jon Young and Thomas Schorr-kon. Phil also journeyed deeply in shamanic practices for some time and now carries the insights from these into his life, especially his work.                                                  He is the Managing Director of a land-based community project in East Sussex where he lives with his wife and daughter. He has been mentored by Jon Young and is part of the Village Builders UK – Cultural Mentoring program with the 8 Shields Institute.                                                                               In his previous life Phil was a soldier in the Royal Marines, an outdoor activities leader in the UK and in Canada, as well as completing a training in horticulture, arboriculture and biodynamic agriculture with the thread of nature connection running through all of these and from a young age.
He is deeply honoured to be able to express that love to others today; especially the upcoming generations and too support others to light their own fires of connection to all those relationships.