The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain is dedicated to healing the Human-Earth relationship. Our educational farm and regenerative learning center offers a unique community residential program for young adults, healing retreats for non-profit leaders and activists, community gatherings and celebrations, workshops and courses.

Apply to the Odyssey Fellowship Program today, where young adults are redefining the collective story of our time. 


Are you feeling disconnected from your spirit, from the spirit of community, and from the spirit of Earth? 

Do you find yourself dreaming of the possibilities of a new world? 

Are you ready to step into your fullest expression and play your role in the co-creation of that world?

The Odyssey Fellowship Program is a ten week residential immersion for people in their Odyssey Years of life, or the wandering time between adolescence and adulthood, that offers foundational permaculture understandings, skills, and inner development- cultivating one’s unique gifts and passions to be offered towards the healing of our world.

The goal of this program is to cultivate an authentic, dedicated, growing community of young adult leaders who hold a vision of a future that is ecologically resilient, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling for all beings.


*Space still available*

The Eco-Institute is offering many Natural Building workshops in 2016!

Join us to learn more about natural building methods such as Straw Bale and Slip Straw, Natural Plastering, Building with Cob, and more. We will be touring the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building and local, permitted natural homes!



Heart-Based Environmental Educators Training

Apr 01, 2017
Food included
Heart-Based Environmental Educators Training

rekindling hope for the future generations

a four-day intensive, exact dates to be selected

Does your heart open while you’re outside with children?
Would you like to discover how you can follow your heart’s calling to work with children as teacher, parent or counselor?
Do you want to develop the skills to inspire natural curiosity and wonder in the people around you?

We have created a 4-day training program to empower you to take the next steps in the heartfelt path of teaching and learning. The world needs more people who carry these skills. Together with a team of professional naturalists and teachers, you will gain the skills to enrich children's lives with a nourishing deep nature connection. Our team is passing on the torch, offering the best practices that we have learned over decades of working with children. This program will support a rekindling of your own heart-based experience in nature so that you will be ready to inspire the next generation to walk a path of ecological literacy and leadership.

This is for you if:
You are a teacher, environmental educator, parent, homeschool community member, or aspiring counselor.
You want a toolkit of proven skills that are used by nature connection programs across the country
You are ready for support in your journey as an educator and guide of children
You want experience with a unique model for teaching and learning that you can use every day in almost any educational environment

You will:
Practice techniques for harnessing curiosity, building community, and encouraging the eight attributes of deep nature connection in people of all ages
Learn games, activities and core routines that empower an enhanced nature connection
Experience Story-telling techniques, songs, and ways to incorporate music and stories into the learning process
Connect with experienced mentors and peers who will support your ongoing adventures with children
Get a guidebook of resources and tools to take home
Gain a stronger personal connection with nature to inspire you

Wholesome farm lunch provided each day
Cost is $400 (scholarships available)

Participants in this program will receive preferential hiring in the new Children's Programs at the Eco-Institute and get up to 20 hours of Criteria II credit towards NCEE Certification.

Leadership Team:

Sarah Haggerty helps people get in touch with what really matters. In an increasingly fragmented world, we need connection with the deeper aspects of life more now than ever. She has developed her approach over the past 20 years, and has supported thousands of people on the path of deep nature connection and personal growth. Through this work, she has helped remove the grief of disconnection, awaken attributes of leadership, nourish dreams and bring a sense of meaning back into daily life. She was the winner of the 2012 North Carolina Environmental Educators of the Year award, was Program Director at Schoolhouse of Wonder, founded the Natural Mystery School, is the current Director of Education at Piedmont Wildlife, and a graduate of the Eight Shields Institute.

Meg Toben co-created the Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain as a sanctuary for nature connection, renewal, and healing the human-Earth relationship. Meg has twenty years of experience as an environmental educator, and ten as an executive director, during which time she has learned useful techniques for cultivating balance while keeping a holistic awareness. Meg believes in the essential value of reconnecting with the inspiration that originally led us into our career paths of service as leaders. Meg is the mother of two biological children whose feet know Pickards Mountain as their home. In 2015, Meg was honored with the Piedmont Environmental Leadership Award. Meg's love for art, ritual, Earth, and humanity inspire her to offer healing space of deep renewal to her colleagues who are working to heal our world.

Tori Heller is an apprentice to the transformative power of the natural world. Through her experience as an outdoor educator, group facilitator, and musician, she helps people connect to both inner and outer nature. Most recently she has been a children’s program instructor at Piedmont Wildlife Center in Durham, NC and a co-facilitator of the Community Leadership Program, a six month mentor training with Sarah Haggerty. She spent two years studying the Art of Mentoring, a model for experiential nature education, at the Regenerative Design Institute in California. She is particularly fond of wandering in wild places, making friction fire, creating community ritual, writing and singing songs, and asking good questions!

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Odyssey Intensive Spring Break 2017

Mar 13 - Mar 18, 2017
Food included
“We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being.”— Thomas Berry




This condensed nature immersion experience makes the Odyssey Fellowship available to young adults (ages 18-28) who want to escape their regular lives for a week of deep nature connection and inner exploration but don't have a semester or season of time available.

Over the course of the week, participants will connect deeply with the natural world, meet a tribe of allies, more fully clarify their purpose and articulate their visions. Focusing on authentic personal development, participants will also learn frameworks, techniques and strategies to move forward in their life with an awakened sense of purpose and a more vivid picture of their passions and purpose.

Odyssey Intensive students live in a yome village in the forest, cook meals together in the community kitchen, and learn and grow together in powerful ways. In personal time they have the freedom to meditate under the cedar log gazebo, write in the barn loft, jog around the pond, dance in the grass and the elderberry field, create music together, hold space at fire circles, and so much more.

The Odyssey Intensive is valued at $750. Tuition, which includes room and board, all meals and all workshops, is currently offered on a sliding scale from $600 – $800 and generous contributions will help others unable to pay the full cost. Subsidization by the Kalliopeia Foundation ensures no applicant is turned away because of finances. Upon acceptance, participants will be required to send in a $300 non-refundable deposit. Payment plans are available.

Check out the Eco-Institute website and see who we are: eco-institute.org/five-day-odyssey. Express yourself and your needs and we will meet you where you stand to work together. Don't hesitate to reach out! Send any questions to Brenna at pmeioffice@gmail.com.

"This is what school is supposed to be like." — Patrick Cox, past Fellow


Delicious meals made collaboratively from wholesome farm-raised and organic ingredients

Self-reflection, Reading, Writing Time

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Increased Social & Environmental Awareness

Cultivating Personal Spiritual Practice

Stimulating Conversations

Pond Swimming

Sunday Morning Yoga

Personal development – Identify Strengths/Weaknesses

Identifying and Connecting with Passion & Purpose

Community Service

Manifesting from a Place of Purpose


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Key Stats.

Year founded


Size of project site

15.4 hectares

Dry season

March to November

Languages spoken

  • English

People on site

12 - 30

Wet season

November to February

Living Conditions.


  • hammocks
  • shared rooms
  • tent camping


  • Omnivore
  • communal kitchen access
  • communally cooked meals


medium: voice calls (no video)

Ongoing classes

  • permaculture
    3-5 times per week
  • yoga
    1-2 times per week


The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • ODyssey fellowship scholarship
  • odyssey permaculture fellowship
  • natural building workshops

Contact The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain.

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