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Astounding Earth

Classes That Connect

Current Class Offering
Ecosystems of Souther Applachian Mounains

Current Class Offerings

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Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachian Mountains April 10th - May 29th, 2024

An awesome seven week experiential-ecology series on the Native Plants and Forest Communities of the Southern Appalachians!  

Wednesdays: April 10th - May 29th. 

(No Class May 8th)

9:30 am to 4 pm.
Asheville, NC Area.

Limited to 14 participants.
This class is now Full.  

Join us for seven wonderous Wednesdays of exploring and discovering the magnificent forests of our Southern Mountains!  

In this series, we will enter and explore 12 of the verdant natural communities of our region, learning the significant ecological principles and plant and animal species for each. We will utilize experiential approaches in meeting each ecosystem with hands-on and sensory activities to complement lectures and discussions.    
Focus Topics include: Plant, Tree, and Mushroom ID, Delineating Ecosystems and Ecotones, Keystone Species, Past and Present Disturbance and Threats, Ecosystem Succession, Species Relationships and Big Picture Appalachian Ecology.       


This Class is Fun, and Active.  You will learn a phenomenal amount about the forest-life of this region and end each day grateful for time well spent.

Tuition:  sliding scale (please pay as high as you are able based on your means):  $530- $800

Payment Plans and Work Trade available.

No one turned away for lack of funds.  

For More information email Luke at

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"What you get when you step into the woods with Luke Cannon is more than just rich and informed instruction but an immersion into the forest, one that will change your relationship with the forest itself. Small plants you'd perhaps overlook become ancestors carrying countless stories; sapling and virgin growth trees alike become messengers, bearing a history of human interaction and evolution. Time and again, I've seen just how Luke instills vivid curiosity and deep knowledge, and from a slight bit of moss to a bird calling far off, he's there to translate the forest for everyone in his classes, giving us a true and lasting literacy of the kingdom of green."   ~ Nickole Brown

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Spring Bird Apprenticeship

The Spring Bird Apprenticeship 2024

Ten Mondays: March 18th - May 27th, 2024
(No class April 22nd)
7 am to 1 pm. 
In the Asheville NC area.

Limited to 10 participants.  
This class is now FULL. 

You may still register to join the waitlist. 

Come take a deep dive into the incredible world of Southern Appalachian Birds. This is a fun, active, in- the-field class, where we get out and meet, observe, and learn about dozens of resplendent birds as they traverse the wilds of Western North Carolina.

We will explore: bird I.D., song and bird language, habitat and behavior, as well as conservation issues, and species surveys - all while participating in an international citizen science project.   


Get ready to fall madly in love with our feathered friends and have your mind blown by the beauty and diversity of birds in our region. 


Beginners Welcome. 

​Tuition: sliding scale (please pay as high

on the scale as you are able based on your

means)  $640 - $1000

Payment Plans and Work Trade available.
​No one turned away for lack of funds. 


For more information email Luke at  


Quotes from past participants: 

"My life is so much richer for having joined Luke's Spring Bird Apprenticeship. I learned how to identify birds and understand bird behavior in more depth, but I also learned far more than that too. Luke creates a learning environment where curiosity and wonder and joy are constant companions, even after the classes has ended."  

“I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Spring Birding Apprenticeship. Luke is an extremely gifted nature educator who combines a playful curiosity and a respectful attunement with our natural world, and inspires others to do the same. This course was a wonderful introduction to the diverse birds living in and migrating through our bioregion, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to connect more deeply with our feathered friends.”  

‘I went into the Spring Bird Apprenticeship with minimal knowledge of birds and a curiosity to know more. I came out of the course knowing so many birds, -not only their names,  but also their calls and behaviors, just by walking through the woods one day a week with a small group of other curious minds. Luke inspires a wonder and curiosity that permeates his classes. Highly recommended! "


The Sacred Naturalist School

The Sacred Naturalist School 2024
Our fourth year running!


The Sacred Naturalist School is a 30-day naturalist immersion located in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina & Tennessee. We stretch out in time to luxuriously embrace the full glory of the Appalachian seasons - from spring ephemeral wildflowers and the long sunshine of summer to the rainbow of trees, mushrooms, and wild fruits in the fall.

We meet for six, 5-day sessions: Wednesday dinner through Sunday afternoon, to deeply build our relationships, reverence, and knowledge of this astounding bioregion. We dive deep into the immense diversity of the region, meeting and exploring the lives of plants, trees, birds, fungi, mammals, insects, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as traditional Cherokee lifeways (taught by Cherokee elders) and the cycles and ecosystems that weave it all together.

Blackberry Blossom Farm in Tennessee will be our base camp for walks, talks, embodiment practices, yoga, dance, story telling, camping, hiking, swimming, fires, games and much more!  Additional locations include Cherokee, NC and several regional fieldtrips.  

For more information and to register visit:

Earth Path Education.  


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Mushroom Classes

Past Classes

Mushrooms of the Southern Appalachians 2023
A Seven Week Deep Dive into Mushrooms and Fungi

7 Mondays August 7th - September 18th, 2023

9:30 am to 4 pm.

Asheville NC area.

This Class is now FUll.

Join the mailing list for future classes.

Are you excited to take a Deep Dive into the fascinating world of Mushrooms and Fungi?  This fun class provides an in depth study of Mushroom Identification, Common Mushroom Families, Local Edible and Medicinal Species, Preparation and Tastings, Safety Considerations, Fascinating Fungal Facts, Mushroom Ecology and More!

We will share time each day finding fabulous fungi in the forest to discuss and admire, listen to and sometimes eat.  We will practice utilizing field guides and taxonomic keys for safe and accurate identification of our specimen. Fungal families and groups and potential poisonous look-alikes will be discussed in depth.  This class is appropriate for beginning and intermediate students.   

Tuition: sliding scale (please pay as high on the scale as you are able based on your means)  $460 - $600

Payment Plans available, with a $100, non refundable deposit. ​

For more information email Luke at


Trees of the Southern Mountains 
A Six Week Series

6 Wednesdays August 16th - September 20th, 2023

9:30 am to 4 pm.

Asheville NC area.

Limited to 12 participants.

Registration is now Full.  

Come join us in learning about the magnificent Trees of the Southern Appalachian region and their incredible lives and uses. This class provides a thorough introduction to Tree Identification, Habitats, Ecology, Edible, Medicinal and Utilitarian Uses, Interesting History, Folklore and More!

Each day we will visit various beautiful and wild ecosystems taking time to become familiar with the wondrous trees that preside there and their amazing life cycles and connections to the greater habitat.  Several classes will take us to extremely old individuals and rare species.  We will also practice hands on activities and navigating Tree field guides for ease in field identifications.    

Tuition: sliding scale (please pay as high on the scale as you are able based on your means)

$400 - $500

Payment Plans available.


For more information email Luke at

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An Introduction to Marvelous Mushrooms 
A Five Week Series 

5 Thursdays August 18th - September 15th, 2022

9:30 am to 4 pm.

Asheville NC area.

Limited to 12 participants.

Registration is now FULL.  

Come join us in discovering the marvelous and bedazzling world of Mushrooms and Fungi!  This class provides a thorough introduction to Mushroom Identification, Common Mushroom Families, Local Edibles, Important Safety Tips and Precautions, Mushroom Ecology and More!

We will share time each day finding fungi in the forest, identifying specimen, and learning helpful tips for field guide use. Safe and accurate identification and familiarity with common fungal groups will be primary foci. Taxonomic Keys will also be introduced and perhaps the mushrooms themselves will teach us a thing or two if we listen closely. We will definitely dine on some of our findings!

Tuition: sliding scale (please pay as high on the scale as you are able based on your means)

$300 - $400

Payment Plans and Work Trade available.
​No one turned away for lack of funds. 


For more information email Luke at

Seasonal Offerings

Regular Seasonal Offerings
Full descriptions for Open classes above

March - November
The Sacred Naturalist School

- Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians         (Spring session)
- Spring Bird Apprenticeship
- Explorations of Appalachian Mountain Plants

- Nature Connection Games & Activities for             Educators
- Birds of Summer
- Fantastic Mushrooms and Fungi

- Fantastic Fall Mushrooms and Fungi
- Our Magnificent Trees
- Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians         (Fall session)

- Introduction to Animal Tracking and Trailing
- Winter Tree ID 
- Our Birds of Winter
- Wonders of Winter Ecology Walk 

Custom Classes

Custom Classes


Discover the life all around you...

Luke Cannon, one of Western North Carolina’s premier naturalists and ethnobotanists is now available to bring a dynamic ecological experience to your school, business, group event, family, or home.  Luke offers private personal and g
roup plant, bird, mushroom, and ecology walks, custom nature connection and survival skills classes, plant and bird surveys, land consultations, and more....  

Luke brings decades of experience to a wide range of classes from beginner to expert level, and delivers exceptional content and experiential learning every time.  An accomplished mentor, Luke tailors each class with thoroughness and care, bringing his fervor for learning to all. Luke has taught alongside Doug Elliot, Sandor Katz, Frank Cook, Natalie Bogwalker, 7Song, Lena Eastes, and Alan Muscat, among others.

Popular classes include:

Half or full day Naturalist Walks at your home or favorite WNC natural area. 


One-on-one or small group instruction in:

Wild Plants

Mushrooms and Fungi

Birds and Bird Language

Animal Tracking and Trailing

Wilderness Awareness Skills

Hands-on workshops learning the skills of ancient fire making, lean-to survival shelters, spoon carving or rope from wild plant fibers.  

Afternoons of fun nature connection games and experiential activities for educators, parents, families, or teens.

To book with Luke call 804-384-2908 or email

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