Tracks and Roots

Our mission is to help children and adults form deep bonds with nature, each other, and themselves.

Operating as usual


Totally Agree! I wish our kids were taught as many of the lost skills as possible not just because they are fun but also because various lost skills are super valuable and great for mental health. Also I feel like many of us don't learn many adulting skills needed after the college years during childhood - though they should be part of daily life in childhood. These include things like replacing light fixtures, hanging a shelf, taking care of a yard/lawn, cooking, how to change a tire, etc. Most of us will figure it out, but it's nice being 22 years old and knowing these things. Here are a few on my mind, though the list is endless:

- Baking bread
- Tracking animals
- Stalking deer
- Seeing movement
- Moving silently through the woods
- Local wildlife - naming them and understanding their habits, tracks, signs, and calls
- Crocheting
- Gardening
- Basketry
- Making knives
- Woodworking (modern carpentry is also a great skill)
- Baking and cooking
- Chopping wood with an ax
- Sewing
- Pottery
- Sod hut building
- Fence building

Photos from Little Pine Learners's post 03/29/2024
Photos from Tracks and Roots's post 03/29/2024

Did you know tracking was the gateway to reading for humans?

Tracking animals is one of my biggest passions that I don't talk about nearly as much as foraging. When I first started attending survival schools, it was foraging I was most interested in. But when my instructors found porcupine tracks in the bathroom and then coyote tracks in the sand, I was hooked!

Tracking allows you to know where the animals in the forest are living, traveling, hunting, what they're eating, how many individuals there are, and all sorts of things. In other words, there are millions of reasons to fall in love with tracking even if you never plan to hunt. It's a way to connect deeper to the forest.

Societies that tracked animals could see the movement of the animals like a picture when they followed their tracks, just like we might see pictures when we read a novel. They'd move, dance-like, across the landscape copying the movements of the animals.

It's an ancient art that is another piece to what we are missing in today's world without even realizing it.

I'll be posting at least one tracking course soon for May 17th where you'll have the chance to make your own track molds so stay tuned!


You might have heard of these highly invasive insects! If not, let us introduce you to the spotted lanternfly. They're spreading throughout the commonwealth and you'll probably encounter them soon enough!

Here's a handy pocket guide you can use for IDing spotted lanterflies. Save it to your phone photos.

A NEW pub on SLF control:

Image text:
Spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, arrived in Virginia in 2018 and continues to spread across the state. This invasive pest strongly prefers feeding on tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, but it also feeds on many other plants. SLF is a pest of grapes and can be a nuisance around residences.
Identification tip: Check Tree of heaven, grapes, maple, and near-by plants and structures
Egg Mass: Found September-April | Actual size: 25-35 mm or 1 to 1-1/2 inch long
Early Stage Nymph: Found April to June | Actual size: 4-9 mm or 3/16 to 3/8 inch long
Late Stage Nymph: Found June to September | Actual size: 16–19 mm or 5/8 to 3/4 inch long
Adult: Found September to November | Actual size: 25 mm or 1 in long with wings folded
Preferred host species: Tree-of-Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
Panicles of yellowish flowers
11-41 leaflets leaves 12-36”
Samaras - yellowish or brown
Stems - Stout and hairless, numerous bundle scars, large triangle-shaped leaf scars
Images: SLF eggs, numphs, adults, Eric Day, Virginia Tech; Tree-of-Heaven: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson


Via Holy Flow Parenting


Sounds about right to me!

Monday work tip!



Harry Potter-Inpired Victoria Sponge Cake 03/24/2024

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry's rotund cousin, Dudley, is on a strict diet of celery sticks and grapefruit for the summer. In desperation, Harry sends his snowy owl, Hedwig, to all his friends begging for food. Ron's mom makes this cake, called a "Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake" in the book.

You can use any type of jam, of course, but we prefer foraged or homegrown berries!

Harry Potter-Inpired Victoria Sponge Cake One of our favorite cookbooks is The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz. We made at least one dish from this book every week and have been steadily making our way through all of the …


As kids get older, their schedules fill up, their workload increases, and there is less time for the outdoors.

But filled schedules and increased workloads are also the very reason why time outside becomes even more important for our teenagers!

In the face of stress and anxiety, teens need time to wander, to explore, to relax, to wonder, to be refreshed… all of which are a side-effect of spending time outdoors.

So let's get them outside!

>> link in comments below

Women’s Nature and Foraging Retreat – April 26-28, 2024 03/11/2024

What's new at Tracks and Roots?

We're looking for 2-3 women who'd like to share a skill or help out for the women's retreat to make it a better experience for everyone! Receive $100 off to teach yoga, teach meditation, offer another skill or spiritual healing type of exercise, or just help out by carrying supplies. Send me a message on Facebook if you'd like to help out!

Women’s Nature and Foraging Retreat – April 26-28, 2024 Relax, recharge, and make lasting friends at this women’s retreat at an amazing location with 1 mile of river access, a lake, and hiking trails! Do you ever wish you could be a kid again and …

Photos from Tracks and Roots's post 03/10/2024

We've been spending a lot of time lately picking up trash! It started with finding 8 great blue herons and 4 nests next to a drainage pond. Seeing all the trash there, we knew we needed to step in. We've seen hawks, geese, kingfishers, a great egret, and more all sharing this small, very polluted pond.

It's important not just to teach your kids and grandkids to fall in love with nature, but also how to help.


We made this recently using a Harry Potter-inspired cookbook! You can use any jam, foraged or not, but foraging for berries is one of my favorite activities (of course!).

The recipe will coming out tomorrow!

Fire-Starting Course – May 11, 2024 03/06/2024

Planning a camping trip or backpacking trip this year? Or just looking to get outside while meeting cool people for a few hours?

Learn the fastest way to get a fire started and various fire-starting methods to keep you warm, fed, and purify water during a backpacking trip or emergency.

- 5 Minute Fire
- Friction Fire (Bow Drill / Hand Drill)
- Flint and Steel
- How to Find the Best Materials for Heat or Light

Instructor: Steve Pullinger

Fire-Starting Course – May 11, 2024 Join us for a fire-starting course taught by Steve Pullinger with 30 years of fire-making teaching experience! Learn the fastest way to get a fire started and various fire-starting methods to keep …

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The Story of Tracks and Roots

Tracks and Roots has been many years in the making. The seed was planted when I was 17 years old and knew simply that I wanted to spend my life in the woods, studying nature, writing, and practicing survival skills.

Perhaps my dream wasn't concrete enough since my parents insisted I give college a try. They couldn't imagine me hiding away in the woods rather than solving pressing environmental problems.

At 17, I knew enough to know I didn't know enough, so I went to Virginia Tech . . . but I did it my way.

My first week, I searched and found two amazing mentors, Bill Sydor and Michael Blackwell, plus a group of college students to practice skills with. They taught me nature awareness exercises and ways to learn more efficiently. Bill had an extensive library for me to peruse.

Videos (show all)

Make your health a priority this year!Imagine making your own cough syrup, teas, medicinal honeys, and tinctures! Save h...
Are you ready to make your health a priority this year?
The benefits of an outdoors childhood are endless.
Ready to learn this?
Join us for a fire-starting course taught by Steve Pullinger with 30 years of fire-making teaching experience!Learn the ...
Foraging is a transformative skill - boosting mindfulness, awareness, and connection to the seasons.This skill also boos...
Looking for Founding Members!We're accepting 25 Founding Members to collaberate on our online Herbal Medicine and Foragi...




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