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  • Saskia Vanderhoop

Summer Fundraiser 2019

Can you help us meet our goal of raising $25,000 by September 15?

This summer our Repair Fund gave out over $20,000 in aid

MOSTLY to Native Youth.

Link below for donations:

Summer Camp 2019 Crabbing during "Water" Week

Summer 2019 Fundraiser

David and Saskia Vanderhoop founded Sassafras Earth Education in 2005 with a mission to deeply connect people to nature, to themselves and to others. Sassafras is a primary resource for the entire island with many year round programs for all ages. It is the only school of its kind on Martha’s Vineyard and it is strongly tied into the local community and beyond. Sassafras has become a leader among the 300-plus collaborative of affiliated organizations (The “Nature Connection Network”), and the growing number of nature connection organizations worldwide. We offer unique and empowering nature experiences that go beyond ‘learning’. Our programs are designed to remember who we are as human beings. Natural landscapes are our primary teachers and an integral part of what, how, and where we do what we do. Our mentors guide with care, competence, and spirit, resulting in the development of joy and vital life skills in young people. Today, providing a place to fully ‘unplug’, to reset to natural rhythms, and to get in touch with ourselves, has become even more important amidst increasing social and environmental challenges. We are committed to cultivate resilient, passionate, and caring leaders that are connected to the natural world, with a purpose beyond self toward a healthy future. Sassafras is run on very special land that remains in unbroken Wampanoag lineage. David, a Wampanoag elder, brings an unparalleled perspective and wisdom to our teachings based on a lifetime spent roaming, hunting, fishing, and gathering in the Aquinnah woods and waters. As a team, the Vanderhoops bring a strong message of social justice, particularly surrounding issues of historical trauma, systemic racism, cultural appropriation, decolonization and strategies for repair. Nature Connection Mentoring is a holistic approach to nature immersion that includes many elements of living in a traditional village setting. In a beautiful Aquinnah hollow, we practice earth-based immersive living, naturalist and survival or ancestral skills, while we foster respect for the environment and encourage interpersonal understanding and individual expression. We acknowledge that most of our teachings are based on Native and Indigenous teachings and wisdom, coming from a strong culture that was kept alive despite centuries of systemic and overwhelming oppression. Combining our goal of deep connection to our island with Native People’s strong identity and connection with their homeland, Sassafras has adopted a hopeful repair strategy. We offer all programs to Native people, especially our local Wampanoag tribal members, at no cost. We believe that giving back to Native People, is especially important in all outdoor and environmental programming. We hope to honor our forebears, and begin to heal and restore a relationship of respect to those people who have suffered so much at the advance of western ‘civilization’, and yet whose practices we now seek to cultivate as an antidote to those same forces.

The Sassafras Reparation fund which allows Native Youth to attend our programs at no cost, has already resulted in a Native Youth attendance of 24% for Summer Camp 2019. We also continue to offer Youth of Color and any other Youth, financial support through our policy “No-one turned away for lack of funds”. This summer we gave $20,000 in Financial Aid mostly to Native Youth.

Will you please join our quest for connection and reparation, and support us in these important times? Our primary funding needs, beyond financial aid for programs, are to increase our staff and to pay these outstanding teachers what they deserve. And lastly, we dream of building a welcome shack to serve our participants and staff. I hope you feel that this is a worthwhile destination for your contributions. Our goal is to raise $25,000 by September 15thand we really need your help. Please donate or help us find others who may be interested!

Thank you,

The Sassafras Board of Directors

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