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Briar Patch Outdoors


George Hedgepeth, Head Instructor

George Hedgepeth has been passionately interested in wilderness living, primitive culture and skills, and useful plants since he was a child. His family in Michigan and Alabama taught him about chasing fish and picking greens and blackberries. He read authors like Jean George, Scott O'Dell, Richard Graves, Euell Gibbons and Larry Dean Olsen voraciously, and spent as much time as he could developing the skills he found in their books.

While in college, he found an opportunity to teach some of these skills while working on archaeological digs. This spurred him to develop his abilities further, and in 1992 he started the Great Lakes Primitives, a group that focused on pre-iron technologies. He also started leading groups into wild areas for week-long survival training with Darryl Patton. All in all, George has taught and studied wild plants, flint knapping, survival, and primitive life ways in environments as diverse as southern swamps, the north woods, high and low desert areas, North Atlantic Islands, and the Alaska coast.

George is also a high school teacher, working in a program for at-risk youth near Flint Michigan since 1992. He teaches social studies and survival skills programs for students between 14 and 19. He works with adult groups as well, presenting women in the outdoors programs sponsored by several groups.

Rachel Mifsud, Instructor

"I hate going to the store. I do my grocery shopping in the woods."

As a child Rachel often camped, hunted, trapped, and harvested and preserved foods with her family. She is a lifelong student of the environment and primitive skills, with a special interest in understanding why nature creates those characteristics that give plants and animals their unique and useful qualities. She has her BS in Environmental Biology and her MS in Ecology. She has worked as field biologist and ecologist throughout the Eastern U.S. and is currently a lecturer in natural sciences at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. Through years of practice, Rachel's family has learned to gather, process, produce, and preserve a large proportion of the foods, medicines, and household products that they need. Friends fondly refer to her as The Mushroom Lady for her knowledge of wild mushrooms and mushroom cultivation. She is also known for her herbal teas and her culinary skills, receiving top recognition for 2 of her dishes in the 2013 Midwest Wild Harvest Festival's Cooking Contest. She has an innate skill for weaving and knotting and enjoys creating baskets, bags, jewelry, and artwork with cane and fiber. Rachel has been teaching for over 15 years and has spent considerable time working with students both in the classroom and outdoors. She is a strong believe in student-centered learning and will adapt her teaching methods to accommodate the audience and the situation.

Nick Dillingham, Instructor

Coming from a mixed native family, Nick has practiced indigenous skills since he was a child. His youth was spent in and around the woods. Skills that weren't learned through trial and error were taught to him by different tribal elders, such as traditional basketry and utility items, indigenous life ways, traditional wild food preparation, utility plants, and bush craft. He is considered one of the top traditional basket makers of his generation, and has worked along side and taught with master craftsmen and top survival/bush craft instructors. His work has been featured in magazines, traditional arts documentaries, and news papers, and he has taught all over Michigan for a variety of institutes, schools, public venues, and cultural centers.

- Woodsrunner Tips -

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Send an email to georgehedgepeth(at)hotmail(dot)com

Briar Patch Outdoors
219 Holmes Street
Durand MI 48429
(989) 288-0168

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