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November 9, 2023

Wild Foods & Medicines spotlight: Shawna Zierdt

Wild Foods & Medicines spotlight: Shawna Zierdt

We are so thankful for Shawna, who shares her knowledge and love of plants with her community in many ways. Here is her story in her own words!

Shawna and a micro-prairie mound featuring purple camas blooms.

"My name is Shawna Zierdt (she/her, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians citizen), I am pursuing my Masters in Teaching at Evergreen State College and as a part of my journey towards becoming a certified teacher in the state of Washington, I will be strengthening my practice as a community educator and cultural knowledge carrier through an internship with GRuB’s Wild Foods and Medicines team. My ongoing and upcoming collaborations exemplify models of ecosystem gardening and implementing WFM curriculums and resources. Some current projects include completing the design of a food forest and micro-prairie at Thurgood Marshall Middle School’s CSI Institute, the integration of Tend Gather and Grow Curriculum Modules and Plant Teachings for Growing Social-Emotional Skills into the Evergreen State Colleges MiT program, restoration of the Native Plants Trail at GRuB, co-developing signage connecting plant teachings that include Lushootseed language of Squaxin peoples, and consulting with professionals serving schools and community, all while continuing regional support towards increasing access and restoration of native plants and cultural practices. 

I have learned from many on my path, but the first teacher that reminded me that plants are our relatives and teachers felt like calling home. This teaching completely transformed my relationship with our living world. As a guest teacher and learner in a number of WFM teacher trainings, plant teachings workshops, and Tend Native community cohort gatherings, I have witnessed countless people coming to their own transformational knowledge growth. These experiences connect people and plants with friendship and allyship that will last a lifetime, transmitting knowledge and strengthening relations that move forward into future generations.  The living Indigenous cultural values that the Wild Foods and Medicine program centers in a respectful way transcend limiting beliefs about nature and activate remembering of our long-evolved relationship to earth where all our lives flow from. The Wild Foods and Medicines program creates access to a pathway of learning that is layered with teachings and stories passed from time immemorial, reminding us how to be good stewards of a place that was always loved and tended by Indigenous communities whose land we make our lives in. Humans are an essential key to healthy ecosystem function and we each have gifts to offer as an act of reciprocity and care towards shared abundance and health. I look forward to offering my gifts through a continued journey of community building, cross-cultural sharing, and cultivating extremely joyful experiences that wake up our senses and awareness, increase our mindfulness practices, and motivate action to Tend, Gather and Grow. 

In friendship and allyship, Tuwuuk (Takelma, it is good)."

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