To our Coyote Tracks and Fox Walkers communities:
As we approach the end of another year, we can’t help but reflect with gratitude on the challenges and accomplishments of seasons past. So much has changed in the world around us; but the foundation from which we’ve been able to adapt and carry forward is the continued relevance of a mission we believe in and the unyielding support of friends, families and supporters around the world – YOU!
Whether you attended our programs this year, told a friend about 4E, donated goods or money, or took your kids outside after seeing a post on our Facebook page… THANK YOU for contributing to our mission to guide children, teens and families toward a pure connection to the Earth through direct experiences in Nature.
Despite the pandemic, we have delivered an uninterrupted schedule of nature connection programming for all ages. This year, we expanded our teen programs on the East Coast and reintroduced courses specifically for Adults and Educators in California. We retained our talented and dedicated staff by increasing compensation, expanding access to health and family benefits, and providing continuing education for instructors. And we continue to strengthen long-standing relationships with native lands and leaders.
We very literally COULD NOT have done this without generous financial support from the Tracker community and friends of 4E. This Giving Tuesday, please consider a tax-deductible donation to 4E’s mission – to further Grandfather’s vision for us all. Continue reading below for more on the history of 4E, or mission, and what we are up to.
** Facebook pays the processing fees, so 100% of your donation goes to 4E!
A little history, and what we've been up to...
from Rick Berry, Executive Director, 4 Elements Earth Education Inc.
In 1999, Coyote Tracks started on the East Coast as a youth program under Tracker School. In 2001 Coyote Tracks led to the nonprofit “Children of the Earth Foundation” (COTEF), with a goal to provide affordable youth and family programs through the help of donations from the Tracker community and beyond. I served as Director for 8 years before moving West.
In 2010 I moved west and founded 4 Elements Earth Education Inc. (4E) on the same Vision as Coyote Tracks and with the help of Juan Villarreal and support from Tom Brown Jr.
For the past 12 years, 4E has developed its own Fox Walkers youth programs on our land in Nevada City, with support and friendship from the Siakumne Tribe. This has allowed us to give back to CA Indians, as well as to receive Old Ways Traditional Ecological Knowledge from them—opening doors for us to have more relations with traditional peoples of Turtle Island and continue our mission to connect youth and families with Nature as best we can.
In 2019, 4E absorbed the Children of the Earth Foundation at Tom Brown Jr.’s request; and we now run Coyote Tracks on the East Coast and Fox Walkers on the West Coast, under our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, 4 Elements Earth Education.
4E serves as caretaker of the Burton Educational Preserve in Nevada City, CA. Our ongoing relationships on the land include Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Educational Farm and the Siakumne Tribe, which are included in our agreement with the land transfer from Bear Yuba Land Trust. Planned collaborations for the year ahead include Farm-to-Table events with Sierra Harvest; entertainment events; educational programs for the Nevada County Indian Education group, Foster Youth groups, and local and regional school field trips; and a partnership with the Woolman School to work with youth from the Bay Area.
With Coyote Tracks in the East, we are investing in highly qualified instructors and taking the time to rebuild what was a thriving program during the years I was there, now several years go. It is careful, intentional work to ensure Grandfather Stalking Wolf’s teachings and vision are held strong at the core and passed on.
Alex Carney and Kristi Knapp were both Coyote Tracks students when they were teenagers, having many adventures in the Pines, and both now serve on the Board of Directors for 4E. With their help, 4E has offered family weekends every Spring and Fall for the past 3 years, as well as week-long Teen and Family Summer programs in the Pine Barrens Primitive Camp. These weekends have been very popular, drawing up to 100 participants or more for a special opportunity to enjoy the special places where Tom learned so much from Stalking Wolf. We also started a Teen Leadership Program that brings teens together in the Pine Barrens for one weekend each month, led by instructors Jamie Coyle, Jorge Brana, Kristi Knapp, Alex Carney, and others.
A respected Cherokee Leader whose family knows the Delaware tribe of Oklahoma (the largest group of Lenape tribe), recently requested that we host a Lenape Youth and Elders gathering in the Pine Barrens Primitive Camp. He asked if these youth could come to Tracker’s beautiful camp, the homeland of the Lenape, to reunite with their ancestral homeland. From Tom’s own words—this is ‘coming full circle’.
For 4E to reach Native Youth as Tom requested, and to give back to Indigenous Communities of Turtle Island, we have to invest time and care in building relations with each Community/ Tribe/ First Nation in order to share the old skills with integrity and honor to our lineage from Stalking Wolf.
In the past year alone, 4E has contributed significant resources to Indigenous-based projects and events, including $100,000 in financial support and countless days of cooperation, labor and friendship. Included below are some of the highlights.
We look back on the past year with gratitude for the progress we've made, and we look ahead optimistic for what's to come. But none of it is possible without help from our community of supporters. If you're able to make a financial contribution this year, please consider a tax-deductible donation to 4E's mission and programs.
Thank you for your support, encouragement, and all you do to keep the mission alive year after year!
4 Elements Earth Education Inc.
- Tom Brown Jr.