News

Coyote Trails recognized for green initiatives

By Caitlin Fowlkes for the Mail Tribune, June 21, 2016.

Oregon Business magazine has named The Coyote Trails School of Nature in Medford No. 2 on its list of "100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon."

This is the second year Coyote Trails has placed, according to Molly Kreuzman, director of the center. More than 15,000 employers responded to the magazine's survey.

"We missed first place by less than a point," said Kreuzman. "We did beat Standing Stone in Ashland. So that was kind of fun. Although I do love Standing Stone."

Coyote Trails is a nonprofit organization that offers day camps and educational programs on areas of nature such as animal tracking, fire cultivation, primitive shelter building, edible and medicinal plant identification and wilderness immersion skills. The center sits in the middle of seven acres of the U.S. Cellular Community Park and overlooks 1,500 feet of Bear Creek.

"To me, winning the award shows people that we're walking the talk," said Kreuzman.

Coyote Trails came close to first for good reason. The center composts, recycles, uses solar power and cloth towels, has two pollinator gardens and a monarch butterfly way station. The way station is an area dedicated to milkweed and pollinator plants to help the monarch population, as well as bees and birds that pollinate the local area.

The center offsets 100 percent of its energy use with its solar power. The center actually produces more solar power than it needs, and the excess power goes back to the grid and benefits local low-income families, according to Kreuzman.

Coyote Trails has reclaimed 5 acres of land surrounding the center, cleared out invasive plant species and replaced them with native plants. The center has 18 bird boxes, four duck boxes and two bat boxes installed by Boy Scouts.

The center offers weekly overnight camps at the Earth Teach Forest Park branch in the Cascade Mountains. An intense program offered to a select few in the school allows for students to live a year in the mountains, mostly off the land. A group of five young women recently participated in the program and filmed a documentary on their experience titled "5 Women; 4 Seasons; 1 Journey. The documentary directed and produced by Kreuzman is expected to be released by the summer of 2017.

A preschool program will begin September 12 for children under 5. Coyote Trails also works with local schools in the area to teach youths about nature.

"We took stewardship of this center for two reasons," said Kreuzman. "One, we thought kids in the area needed a nature center in this end of the valley; and two, we wanted to be a demonstration area of green initiatives for the area."

For more information, contact Coyote Trails at 541-282-8577 or www.coyotetrails.org.

Contact Mail Tribune reporting intern Caitlyn Fowlkes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

5 Women: 4 Seasons Documentary

Imagine, if you will, voluntarily spending a year in the woods, living only in the shelter you and a few others build, warming yourself with fire only you build with no matches and using only basic tools, such as an ax or knife.    Imagine you are all under-25 women with no iPhones, outside friends, no parties, alcohol or any “distractions.” Now imagine doing this as a character-building project that you pay for.    That's exactly what’s happening with five young women from all over the country who are three-fourths of the way through this challenging adventure, called Caretaker, in the Cascade range, east of Ashland — a class put on by Coyote Trails School of Nature.   

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The participants pop into town weekly for supplies and vittles and, they admit, they sometimes look at the beer, but ask themselves, “Why would I want to do that?”    Their job at Caretaker, where they receive occasional help from an experienced wilderness guide, is to confront that great unknown creature called “me,” look at her motives, tame her cravings for society’s diversions and experience, as Maddee Roseberry, 19, put it, “being yourself under all conditions.”    Medford-based Coyote Trails has been running the yearlong program since 2010, usually for about five people, both genders, who have previously taken their much shorter trainings. Eighteen have graduated. The name of the training, Caretaker, means they are taught to take care of nature, the land and themselves in deeper ways, says Joe Kreuzman, director of Coyote Trails.    Watching the five women literally disappear below the earth on a wooded embankment at Earth Teach Forest Park, Kreuzman tells how they harvested the poles with hand saws and debarked them with draw-knives, moving big rocks around with leverage to build the primitive shelter at the 4,500-foot elevation.     The shelter is called a TRUG — Through the Roof Underground, a structure common in indigenous societies.     “It’s warm in winter and cold in summer,” he says. “It’s insulated with clay, mud, grass and also bark, which drains off the rain. There’s no plastic. They build the fire to heat it and they do it without matches. It’s a very different mentality to not impose the egoic will on nature.”  

tori 

Opening the hand-fashioned door and crawling inside the narrow, upslope tunnel is like stepping into a Paleolithic past of 10,000 years ago. The women cozy together in the upper portions of the underground hutch and, whipping a bow and tinder around, quickly get a fire going. Smoke trickles out of what appears to be a pile of sticks and dirt on the slope.    In the midst of this year’s program, local filmmakers are shooting a documentary movie, paid for by Coyote Trails, on this most unusual venture into adulthood. It’s called “Five Women; Four Seasons” and producers hope it will be shown at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and other similar venues.    “It’s fun and exciting learning what they learn,” says filmmaker Kelly Cassinerio of Ashland. “It’s amazing to see the progress they’ve made since they started in September.”    The film seeks funding of $30,000 starting July 1 on Kickstarter.   

Seeing such an extreme form of boot camp-style training, the question springs to mind why these five women would pay to do this — and what they seek from it.    “I’m drawn because, here, all the distractions of society are taken away,” says Roseberry of Ohio. “You get the opportunity to know yourself. Watching TV or partying, no — here, you can’t do that. It’s a chance to really work on yourself and evolve, to be yourself under all the layers you find.”    Tori Davis, 19, of Ohio, says she was drawn by her passion for the woods. “I completely fell in love with it in the Coyote Trails trainings. It’s such a magical experience. You get amazing lifelong skills that build you up. It’s an awesome place to be.”    Davis says she plans to pursue environmental science in college and a life in that field, as well as outdoor photography.    For Thea Smith, 23, of Colorado, it’s about getting to know herself better, mastering outdoor skills and learning to motivate herself.    “I’ve always been shy, never hugely social and here I get to know my true thoughts and feelings and be happier with them,” she says.    Hannah Schiestel, 21 of Truckee, Calif., notes the “very accepting environment” of Coyote Trails classes and wants to “create great memories here” and eventually become an instructor.    The yearlong training, she adds, has a big spiritual dimension.     “It speaks louder here and instead of half-full, you feel it overflowing sometimes,” she says.    Emma Trucco, 19, of Portland, says she loved the primitive skills she picked up in earlier Coyote Trails classes, “helping me to find the connection back to nature and everything on the planet."    "That’s what really makes me overflowing with happiness.”    If you think it would be hard to live in the mud, rain and sunshine with a small group for a year, you’d be right, they say.    “It’s still a little rough around the edges,” says Roseberry. “If it bothers you, it’s most likely about you. If someone says something aggravating to me, I step back and look at what’s going on with me. The instructors set a good example of this and once you feel the power and try to go back to the old way, it’s hard. It’s about holding yourself accountable. It can be really tough.”   

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Dirk Minton, 27, a 2012 graduate of Caretaker, says, “It helped me ground more in my physical body and the natural landscape and myself. It inspired me to pursue my own connection to myself.”    Another 2012 graduate, Amanda Smith, 26, of Colorado, now mentoring the young students, says, “It’s made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life and challenged me like nothing else. … I’m most afraid of social dynamics and was a pleaser but I’ve figured out now how to please others and myself, too. Happy? You choose to be happy.”   

For information, see www.5women4seasons.com and www.coyotetrails.org or call 541-772-1390.    John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Feb. 7, 2015: Solar pavilion going up at Coyote Trails

By John Darling
for the Mail Tribune

Volunteers will build the project at U.S. Cellular Community Park Overflowing with a gaggle of grants, Coyote Trails Nature Center in Medford will break ground today on an $84,000 “solar pavilion” — an open-air educational center that can be used for its nature programs, as well as for presentations and classes for schools. It will also be used for performances.   

It’s in a natural bowl in the heart of U.S. Cellular Community Park on Bear Creek. The structure will sit on a concrete pad, with the solar array close to the ground so it can be used as a teaching tool for young students, said Molly Kreuzman, manager of Coyote Trails Nature Center.    “It’s one of the first solar arrays where kids can see and understand how it works,” she said, “and we hope to have a meter that shows how much electricity it produces. It’s a multiuse, free-standing amphitheater. It will be volunteer-built, mostly free of labor costs.”    The project won many grants because it serves so many positive functions in the community, including education, green energy, community gatherings and restoration of nature in the area, she said.   

Grants came from Pacific Power Blue Sky Program ($32,451), Oregon Department of Energy ($12,419), Energy Trust of Oregon ($12,949), Carrico Family Foundation ($10,000), West Family Foundation ($7,500) and Plum Creek Foundation ($5,000).    Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District gave them $10,000 for a monarch butterfly way station. This helps butterflies and other pollinators.   

“It’s really exciting. All these take Coyote Trails to the next level,” she said.    Coyote Trails took the site over from Jefferson Nature Center three years ago. It sits on leased city land. Part of the lease agreement is that Coyote Trails will restore the land near to its natural state, a project that city parks has helped on considerably, she says.    Some of their work includes clearing blackberries and other non-native plants, creating a pollinator garden, adding more than a mile of trails, hauling much asphalt and old tires out and putting in bird boxes. It hosts many school classes and visitors from the general public, many of whom are on site to see ball games. It’s free and open to the public.   

True South of Ashland will provide the solar array. Other volunteers on the pavilion are Gene Abell, Abell Architectural Group Inc.; Richard Anderson, Disabilities Recreation Project; Dave Bish, Plant Oregon; Steve Cossin, Coyote Trails; Marty Daniels, Valley Electric; Eric Hansen, True South Solar; Ralph Henderson, Rogue Community College. Construction Department; Kerry KenCairn, KenCairn Landscape Architecture; Sharon Keppler, Evergreen Roofing; Karin Onkka, Onkka Design; Dave Ouellette, music teacher; Roger Owen, Owen Woodworking; Lynne Reardon, Coyote Trails; Shawn Schreiner, True South Solar.   

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

January 12, 2015: Wolf OR-7 and His Young Pack?

By Joe Kreuzman
for the Mail Tribune

  Dec. 19, 2014

The day following Thanksgiving was solo time to head into the woods to camp and track, just wandering as each whim dictates. Whether a scent on the breeze points to the east or the sound of running water pulls slightly northward, it was pure tracking with no time or destination. My dog, Taru, and I found ourselves on the leading edge of a large storm with dropping temperatures and heavy rain.

Finally
Finally Found Him

Holy smokes, is that a wolf track? Right there in the snow beneath our feet — Why is this not a domestic dog? A team of instructors from Coyote Trails has been searching for wolf OR-7 since 2011. Is this really him?

Not only are these potentially the alpha male but also the alpha female and a few others all moving together. Wow! Now to prove this right or wrong. With the storm looming, it was time to backtrack this trail to determine more about these canines. Did they originate from a truck? Are humans walking along with them? What can be learned to corroborate this working hypothesis that these tracks are indeed from OR-7 and his little pack? The tracks have been through numerous freeze-thaw weather patterns, which tend to distort a tracks actual size, so much more research is needed before it can be safely said.

This back trail led for five miles directly into deep wilderness. The track patterns revealed the canines were moving in an “overstep trot” gait pattern with no veering off to scent mark or sniff at random squirrel tracks. This erratic behavior is suited to the short attention span of domestic dogs, which are constrained all week in homes or backyards and find the freedom of the woods so enticing they explore and wander everywhere. This trail was focused for miles. What domestic would do this? While travelling with three other domestic dogs? Not even farm dogs have this style of discipline and focused attention.

Wolves are keenly aware and when it is time to travel, they move in a trot as this movement conserves more caloric energy than even walking. Is OR-7 heading down in elevation and taking his young pack with him?

Lying in my dry shelter, as snow fell only 700 feet in elevation above, I pondered the day’s progress. As a scientific tracker, we must first see what the track is not. It is just too easy to make a track into whatever you want it to be. By developing a working hypothesis, it leaves one open to add new information as discovered, thus one tracks within the facts. Comparing these large canine tracks to a coyote track from the same time stamp provided good contextual evidence.

Tomorrow will be spent following the trail forward in the direction of travel. Dawn ushered in with two bald eagles perched in an old pine snag and the call of two Northern Harrier Hawks. What? More tracking mysteries to solve, but this will need to wait as the excitement to trail wolves in Southern Oregon is much more exciting today than bird identification.

Due to the recent weather patterns, the tracks are very clear to see in the forested debris, leading in and out of snow fields, across multiple creeks and finally with fading daylight into a well-protected area with numerous bones strewn about. All of these bones have been opened by a large canine to access the tasty and nutritious marrow.

Cougars, bears and coyotes all open large femurs with a telltale sign that is unique to its species. The bones reveal signs of old age and disease due to the many open pocks in the bones joint structure. This is the last needed confirming piece of evidence to prove the hypothesis of why these tracks are OR-7. To a tracker, there is no better day.

Joe Kreuzman is director of the Coyote Trails School of Nature.

By Joe Kreuzman
for the Mail Tribune

Posted Dec. 19, 2014 @ 12:01 am

The day following Thanksgiving was solo time to head into the woods to camp and track, just wandering as each whim dictates. Whether a scent on the breeze points to the east or the sound of running water pulls slightly northward, it was pure tracking with no time or destination. My dog, Taru, and I found ourselves on the leading edge of a large storm with dropping temperatures and heavy rain.

Finally

Finally

Holy smokes, is that a wolf track? Right there in the snow beneath our feet — Why is this not a domestic dog? A team of instructors from Coyote Trails has been searching for wolf OR-7 since 2011. Is this really him?

Not only are these potentially the alpha male but also the alpha female and a few others all moving together. Wow! Now to prove this right or wrong. With the storm looming, it was time to backtrack this trail to determine more about these canines. Did they originate from a truck? Are humans walking along with them? What can be learned to corroborate this working hypothesis that these tracks are indeed from OR-7 and his little pack? The tracks have been through numerous freeze-thaw weather patterns, which tend to distort a tracks actual size, so much more research is needed before it can be safely said.

This back trail led for five miles directly into deep wilderness. The track patterns revealed the canines were moving in an “overstep trot” gait pattern with no veering off to scent mark or sniff at random squirrel tracks. This erratic behavior is suited to the short attention span of domestic dogs, which are constrained all week in homes or backyards and find the freedom of the woods so enticing they explore and wander everywhere. This trail was focused for miles. What domestic would do this? While travelling with three other domestic dogs? Not even farm dogs have this style of discipline and focused attention.

Wolves are keenly aware and when it is time to travel, they move in a trot as this movement conserves more caloric energy than even walking. Is OR-7 heading down in elevation and taking his young pack with him?

Lying in my dry shelter, as snow fell only 700 feet in elevation above, I pondered the day’s progress. As a scientific tracker, we must first see what the track is not. It is just too easy to make a track into whatever you want it to be. By developing a working hypothesis, it leaves one open to add new information as discovered, thus one tracks within the facts. Comparing these large canine tracks to a coyote track from the same time stamp provided good contextual evidence.

Tomorrow will be spent following the trail forward in the direction of travel. Dawn ushered in with two bald eagles perched in an old pine snag and the call of two Northern Harrier Hawks. What? More tracking mysteries to solve, but this will need to wait as the excitement to trail wolves in Southern Oregon is much more exciting today than bird identification.

Due to the recent weather patterns, the tracks are very clear to see in the forested debris, leading in and out of snow fields, across multiple creeks and finally with fading daylight into a well-protected area with numerous bones strewn about. All of these bones have been opened by a large canine to access the tasty and nutritious marrow.

Cougars, bears and coyotes all open large femurs with a telltale sign that is unique to its species. The bones reveal signs of old age and disease due to the many open pocks in the bones joint structure. This is the last needed confirming piece of evidence to prove the hypothesis of why these tracks are OR-7. To a tracker, there is no better day.

Joe Kreuzman is director of the Coyote Trails School of Nature.

- See more at: http://www.coyotetrails.org/fieldnotes/?p=1980#sthash.YuwPgQtX.dpuf

By Joe Kreuzman
for the Mail Tribune

Posted Dec. 19, 2014 @ 12:01 am

The day following Thanksgiving was solo time to head into the woods to camp and track, just wandering as each whim dictates. Whether a scent on the breeze points to the east or the sound of running water pulls slightly northward, it was pure tracking with no time or destination. My dog, Taru, and I found ourselves on the leading edge of a large storm with dropping temperatures and heavy rain.

Finally

Finally

Holy smokes, is that a wolf track? Right there in the snow beneath our feet — Why is this not a domestic dog? A team of instructors from Coyote Trails has been searching for wolf OR-7 since 2011. Is this really him?

Not only are these potentially the alpha male but also the alpha female and a few others all moving together. Wow! Now to prove this right or wrong. With the storm looming, it was time to backtrack this trail to determine more about these canines. Did they originate from a truck? Are humans walking along with them? What can be learned to corroborate this working hypothesis that these tracks are indeed from OR-7 and his little pack? The tracks have been through numerous freeze-thaw weather patterns, which tend to distort a tracks actual size, so much more research is needed before it can be safely said.

This back trail led for five miles directly into deep wilderness. The track patterns revealed the canines were moving in an “overstep trot” gait pattern with no veering off to scent mark or sniff at random squirrel tracks. This erratic behavior is suited to the short attention span of domestic dogs, which are constrained all week in homes or backyards and find the freedom of the woods so enticing they explore and wander everywhere. This trail was focused for miles. What domestic would do this? While travelling with three other domestic dogs? Not even farm dogs have this style of discipline and focused attention.

Wolves are keenly aware and when it is time to travel, they move in a trot as this movement conserves more caloric energy than even walking. Is OR-7 heading down in elevation and taking his young pack with him?

Lying in my dry shelter, as snow fell only 700 feet in elevation above, I pondered the day’s progress. As a scientific tracker, we must first see what the track is not. It is just too easy to make a track into whatever you want it to be. By developing a working hypothesis, it leaves one open to add new information as discovered, thus one tracks within the facts. Comparing these large canine tracks to a coyote track from the same time stamp provided good contextual evidence.

Tomorrow will be spent following the trail forward in the direction of travel. Dawn ushered in with two bald eagles perched in an old pine snag and the call of two Northern Harrier Hawks. What? More tracking mysteries to solve, but this will need to wait as the excitement to trail wolves in Southern Oregon is much more exciting today than bird identification.

Due to the recent weather patterns, the tracks are very clear to see in the forested debris, leading in and out of snow fields, across multiple creeks and finally with fading daylight into a well-protected area with numerous bones strewn about. All of these bones have been opened by a large canine to access the tasty and nutritious marrow.

Cougars, bears and coyotes all open large femurs with a telltale sign that is unique to its species. The bones reveal signs of old age and disease due to the many open pocks in the bones joint structure. This is the last needed confirming piece of evidence to prove the hypothesis of why these tracks are OR-7. To a tracker, there is no better day.

Joe Kreuzman is director of the Coyote Trails School of Nature.

- See more at: http://www.coyotetrails.org/fieldnotes/?p=1980#sthash.YuwPgQtX.dpuf