Columbines School

News & Events:

Our Instructors and Staff:

Howie Brounstein has taught botany, herbalism, and wildcrafting extensively for decades, including at such herbal establishments as the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. He is the co-owner and a primary instructor of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies and has a busy clinical practice in Eugene, Oregon. He is well known for his brilliant in depth teaching style and his passionate love of plants.

Steven Yeager has been studying our local flora and ecology since 1995, both wildcrafting and preparing herbal preparations for himself and the community. He enjoys botanizing and exploring Oregon’s wild places. He was the manager of the Columbines and Wizardry herbal business and has been a teacher in the Apprenticeship Program since 1997. He is laboratory and quality control manager at Mountain Rose Herbs. In 2011 Steven became an elected trustee of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and is currently participating with many of the AHPA’s committees.

Heron Brae is a northwest-born botanist, herbalist, rewilder, and wildcrafter. Since 1997 she has studied plants through the Wilderness Awareness School, Columbines School of Botanical Studies, Colette Gardiner, and Evergreen State College, where she earned a BS in botany and ecology. She lives in the woods near Ashland, Oregon, and spends her time working towards interdependent ways of living with wild plants through restoration forestry, crafty harvesting projects, community building, and independent ethnobotanical research. She guest teaches regionally in various venues, specializing in wild foods tending and rewilding culture.

Mel Kasting is the administrator and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. In addition to Columbines, she has taken online classes though the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism and has interned with Howie Brounstein and other herbalists in the Eugene area. She spends her off hours seeing clients, wildcrafting, and medicine making for her business, Artemis Herbs.

Second Year Apprenticeship Program

Second Year Curriculum

This program is two-fold. The field series will focus on the plant ecology of Oregon, and how to familiarize yourself with new ecosystems. It is open only to students who have completed the first year Apprenticeship. The lecture series is designed for intermediate students who have completed one year of herbal training with any herbalist. One can take this series independent of the fieldwork.

Second Year Field Series

Either two one day trips or one overnight trip per month will be offered during a six month period. Each trip will consist of one-third botany skills, one-third ecology of the ecosystem, and one-third wildcrafting and using new plants. The goal is to learn how to get an overview of new ecosystems.

Balsam Root, Balsamorhiza sp.

Botany: We will continue to use our taxonomic skills for identifying native plants using the Flora of the Pacific Northwest by Hitchcock and Cronquist. New botanical field skills will include familiarization with more plant families and population monitoring.

Ecology: After a botany review, the class will focus on desert, forest, and alpine ecology. We will be visiting a variety of ecosystems at their peak blooming times. We will learn common plant associations for each ecosystem and use these to locate medicinal plants.

Wildcrafting: We will harvest mostly new plants, and may have an opportunity to replenish our supplies of familiar plants. We will enhance our locating and harvesting skills as we search for new medicinals.

The Apprenticeship will run from April to November. Successful completion of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program is required. We accept only eight students for the field trips, so timely enrollment is encouraged if you wish to take the complete program. The instructors are Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Second Year Lecture Series

Topics may include local materia medica, handling and using drop dosage herbs safely, clinical intake, case history review, and clinical assessment techniques. This class is designed to help the student of herbalism understand chronic illness in a clinical setting.

This lecture series will consist of 18 three hour evening lectures over a six month period. The class will run from April to November. Completion of Herbal Concepts or one-year of herbal study required. The instructor is Howie Brounstein. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Second Year Electives

Springtime in the Sonoran Desert

This botanical field trip will explore the desert ecosystems of Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico. This trip will not include harvesting of plants; however, it will provide a varied overview of the Sonoran desert. Camp on the beach along the Sea of Cortez and wander through old growth cactus ’forests’ with free time for personal exploration.

This adventure is offered in March. There will be five teaching days and two days for travel and personal research. Successful completion of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program is required. We accept only eight students, so timely enrollment is encouraged. The instructors are Howie Brounstein and Heron Brae. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Southern California Botanical Adventure

Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea.

This adventure will tour the southern California ecosystems from coastal chaparral lands to the Sonoran desert. You will not want to miss seeing hillsides of shooting stars in the early spring. We will start in Santa Barbara and end near San Diego.

This adventure is offered in March. There will be five teaching days and two days for travel and personal research. Successful completion of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program is required. We accept only eight students, so timely enrollment is encouraged. The instructors are Howie Brounstein and Heron Brae. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Chasing Spring Option

Take both March field trips back to back. Start with the blooming flowers along the Sea of Cortez on mainland Mexico and follow spring north over a two week stretch into Southern California. The class ends at an appropriate time to chase spring north through California to the blooming Calypso Orchids of Eugene, Oregon!

This option is offered in March. There will be ten teaching days and four days for travel and personal research. Successful completion of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program is required. We accept only eight students, so timely enrollment is encouraged. The instructors are Howie Brounstein and Heron Brae. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Physical Assessment Skills

This lab class teaches pertinent physical assessment for the clinical
herbalist. Topics may include legalities, ethics, vital signs, deep tendon reflexes, neurological screening, HEENT (head, ears, eyes, nose and throat), and other clinical assessment skills. This is not a class in diagnostics, but rather one of “red flag” assessment.

This lab series will consist of 6 three hour evening lectures over a nine day period. The class will run in November. Enrollment or completion of the Second Year Lecture Series, or comparable experience required. The instructor is Howie Brounstein. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Academic Calendar

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