Plants, People, and Community

Herbalist Training Program info


The Herbalist Training Program is designed for anyone who wishes to develop their skills as an herbalist in the Pacific Northwest bioregion. Our classes span the harvest season—from Poplar buds in the early spring to the roots of late fall. The program covers foundational herbal medicine topics while emphasizing the reawakening of a core way of knowing that encourages trust in our own senses and places authority in direct experience.

Students learn how to find and identify plants in wild areas, how to ethically wildcraft, and how to make medicines such as salves and tinctures. In addition to time in class, we spend many days in the field, including multi-day wildcrafting trips. Several classes are led by guest lecturers and elders from the herbal community who generously share their knowledge and wisdom.
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The 2019 Herbalist Training Program

Dates: Feb – Oct, 2019

Times: Thursdays 6-9pm & Saturdays 10am-5pm, with occasional Sundays and camping trips

Location: TBA

Total Hours: 300+

Class Size: 18 students

Tuition: $2900

Early-bird Special: $2400 (due by Dec. 1st)

Payment Plan Available


Core Classes


Materia Medica

This class is conducted in the classroom and also in the field during our numerous outings to local wild areas. It is the essential class in which students learn about the herbs themselves. Discussion of the plants will include their appearance, ecology and distribution, as well as medicinal uses, methods of preparation, historical background, dosage, and safety. We cover many core Pacific Northwest herbs in great depth, as well as others that we might come across on our field trips throughout the year.


Anatomy & Physiology

This anatomy and physiology course will focus on creating a clear picture of what is going on inside our bodies in states of wellness and imbalance. In the first section, we will learn about the organ systems individually in detail and explore the interconnections between them. In the second section, we will build from our knowledge of normal physiology to disease processes within the systems. We will discuss underlying causes of disease, symptoms of disease, and how to choose the appropriate herbs given the person’s individual presentation. Wellness and disease will be addressed from a holistic perspective, taking into account the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of each person.



Who is related to whom? Notice a familiar flower shape or leaf arrangement on a plant? Come play in the giant web of plant relationships and learn to follow these individual threads to family, to genus, and then all the way to a positive identification of a particular species. We will study some of the common plant families of our bioregion, what distinguishes them, and what general characteristics to pay attention to when placing a plant in a taxonomical context.


Medicine Making

This class will cover the continuum of herbal pharmacy, from the proper gathering of plant material through processing techniques and the best extraction methods. We will discuss folk and scientific tincturing methods, harvesting guidelines, solubility factors, and dosages. Students will learn to prepare their own herbal medicines including poultices, tinctures, oils, salves, teas, facial astringents, lozenges, and much more.


Plant as Teachers

Throughout history, humans have been intimately connected with plants. They provide us with food, shelter, & clothing and healing for body, mind, & soul. In addition to their physical healing properties, all plants possess a particular spiritual insight and wisdom. In this class we will sit in meditation with Pacific Northwest native plants in an effort to explore these physical and psycho-spiritual healing properties. By coming together with this intention, we create a container that amplifies the plant’s effects and allows us to have a direct experience of the sometimes profound insights, teachings, and healings that they have to offer. We will refine our sensory impressions and learn ways to understand plants on a deeper level through Plant Provings, the Doctrine of Signatures, Herbal Energetics, intuition, song, and exploring other modes of “seeing,” concentrating on the intelligence of the heart and its role in direct perception.


Clinical Skills

In this class, we will practice the arts of observation and interviewing. Using the techniques of examination, such as looking, listening, palpation and questioning, we will seek to understand the signs of wellness and imbalance. We will not emphasize the particular theories of other traditions, but rather go back to the source of the observations of patterns that inspired the ancient ideas. Methods such as pulse taking, tongue observation and listening skills will be incorporated into this class, along with developing a practiced intuition. In a space of honesty and respect, students will share with each other and practice these skills with other members of the class.




The year is divided into four sessions, each building upon the experience and knowledge acquired during the previous session

(Feb -Apr ) We will focus on the basics−we will have a few field days to see winter twigs and some of the plants that emerge early in the Spring. A&P and Botany will be covered in depth to prepare us for…
(Apr -June ) when we will spend a lot of time in the field identifying medicinal plants, learning about ethical wildcrafting, and developing deeper relationships with the plants. We will also spend a weekend at the coast harvesting seaweed and have a three-night wildcrafting trip in the Cascades in late June.
(Aug – Sep ) will be similar to the previous session with a four-night trip to Southern Oregon in early August (including a tour of the Herb Pharm Farm in Williams). We also spend time in the woods harvesting medicinal and edible mushrooms, making herbal formulations, and learning about physiological imbalances and advanced clinical skills in preparation for…
(Oct)  the Mock Clinic, where we will collectively interview and design herbal protocols for several guests.

Trips and Special Topics

The Elderberry School experience includes several multi-day wildcrafting trips and many guest lecturers from the herbal community who generously share their knowledge and wisdom. Last year we had many great guest speakers covering a wide variety of topics including: Constitutional Herbalism, Medicinal Mushrooms, Making Herbal Wines, Ceremonial Uses of Native Plants, Flower Essences, Herbs for Pregnancy, Healing with Plant Spirits, and Herbal First Aid.



Register for the Herbalist Training Program

To apply for the Herbalist Training Program, please use our online form. Contact us at 503.432.0842 or if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
Register Online


After we receive your application, you will be contacted to arrange for an interview, after which we will inform you if you have been accepted into the program. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis. If you are accepted, there is a $300 non-refundable deposit due within 14 days of your acceptance. The deposit is not extra and counts toward your tuition, and it holds your place in the program.

Payment Plan: For individuals who need it, we have a payment plan that allows for half the tuition to be paid in advance and the balance to be paid in four installments through the year.

Things to consider when applying: Can you commit to the entire program? Once the program has started, the tuition is not refundable. The field trips include hiking and can last all day. Rain is persistent here in the Pacific NW. Are you physically able to hike for several hours, and are you willing to hike in inclement weather?

Refund Policy: Your pre-paid tuition will be refunded in full (less the $300 non-refundable deposit) if you notify us three weeks before the first day of class, after which refunds will be partial. Once classes begin there can be no tuition refunds.

If tuition is not received by Feb 1st, we will open the class up to applicants on a waiting list and you may lose your place in the program.