Saskia and David Vanderhoop founded Sassafras Earth Education in 2005 with a mission to deeply connect people to nature, self and others. David is a Wampanoag Native and programs are offered on his ancestral lands. Sassafras has built long term mentoring relationships with many young people and their families on Martha’s Vineyard and beyond. Sassafras is a leader among the 300-plus affiliated nature connection organizations worldwide, David and Saskia are coordinators for the Nature Connection Network.
What is Sassafras?
We offer unique and empowering nature experiences that go beyond ‘learning’. Our programs are designed to remember who we are as human beings. Nature is our primary teacher and an integral part of what we do and how. Our mentors guide with care, competence, and spirit, resulting in the development of vital life skills in young people. Today, providing a place to fully ‘unplug’, reset to nature, and to get in touch with ourselves is even more important, amidst increasing social and environmental challenges. We are able and committed to cultivate resilient, passionate, and caring leaders for a healthy future.
Nature Connection Mentoring Lineage
Nature Connection Mentoring is a holistic nature immersion approach that has many elements of living in a village setting. In a beautiful natural setting, we practice naturalist, earth-based and survival skills, while we foster respect for the environment, interpersonal and equitable relations, and individual growth. Our approach is based on indigenous teachings and as such consists of cultural appropriation. We give credit to indigenous ancestors for these teachings and are committed to give them back to Native Youth and Youth of Color. The Nature Connection Network that we are affiliated with, is working towards aligning and forming guidelines on the above goal.
Sassafras - though co-ounded by a Wampanoag tribal member - is not in any way affiliated with, or representing the Wampanoag Tribe.