Sassafras Earth Education was founded in 2003 with a mission to offer programs, events and trainings that reconnect youth and adults to the earth through native mentoring practices, to create a truly equitable community space, and to restore earth-based regenerative indigenous cultures.
We preserve traditional knowledge, cultivate wisdom, and restore balance using earth-centered education. Youth exposed to this model become rooted individuals that are deeply connected to our mother the earth. They develop character and regenerative leadership qualities, and become deeply invested in giving back to their communities and the earth.
Sassafras gives preference to native and BIPOC youth and adults, and provides full tuition coverage for those that choose. We engage in LandBack initiatives and developed our LandCulture project, a local permaculture project that restores the land to first people's values and practices. We offer trainings for organizations that want to educate themselves, improve their understanding and break with harmful patterns rooted in colonialism. Sassafras speaks out in our island community and beyond, on native matters and encourages people to activate.
David Two Arrows Vanderhoop (Executive Director), Aquinnah Wôpanâak elder, was born and raised on the island of Nôepe (Martha’s Vineyard). David co-founded Sassafras Earth Education in 2003, he is an avid hunter, fisherman, naturalist, and open fire chef. David has facilitated webinars and conferences on topics like decolonization, truth in history, cultural appropriation, racism, and acknowledging the role of the first peoples. David is recognized in his community as a leader and holder of Wôpanâak history, legends, and traditionalist knowledge.
Saskia Vanderhoop was born and raised in the Netherlands, and she moved to the US in 1998 where she married Aquinnah Wôpanâak David Vanderhoop. Together they founded Sassafras Earth Education in 2003, where she has worked for 20 years in multiple directive functions in both office and field. Saskia is a mentor, educator, organizer, public speaker, and naturalist. She loves to work outdoors with people of all ages, and speaking truth to power. She is deeply committed to respecting the earth, the first people of this continent, and all peoples by creating a more balanced and equitable human experience.
The Sassafras Board of Directors is 100% native Wôpanâak.