Susan Eirich, Ph.D
“When I was about five years old I remember asking my mother about why animals didn't have equal rights to humans. Studying for my PH.D in psychology, a scrawny kitten crawled on the farm where I was living and I experienced the deepest love of my life. I hadn't even had an affinity for cats. It was the beginning of growing into an awareness of the profound connection that is possible with animals that continues to expand and amaze me.”
Susan B. Eirich, Ph.D. is Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute. Ever since she can remember, she had an instinctive understanding of the value of all living beings and how important it is not to treat them mindlessly or disrespectfully, for our sake as well as theirs. She pursued studies in biology and psychology, to build a bridge between our scientific and spiritual understanding of animals.
After traveling world-wide and living in several “primitive” cultures, to learn to see through non-western eyes, she founded Earthfire Institute. Her goal was to explore how human/animal interaction could lead to new insights about conservation, and thus to more effective action. She believes that intellectual understanding, while essential, needs to be balanced by a heart-based, visceral, intuitive and spiritual understanding that can best be accessed in the actual physical presence of animals and nature. Only with an interdisciplinary approach, input from our full brain and body intelligence, and a deep connection with nature, can we come to solutions leading to lasting ecological renewal. The emerging field of spiritual ecology is a good place to start.
Dr. Eirich is a pioneer in the conservation movement through her Conservation Conversation retreats for thought leaders from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds. Her ability to connect these leaders with the animals at Earthfire provides a powerful new element for subsequent conservation discussions and meaningful, actionable outcomes. By giving wild animals a voice at the negotiation table Dr. Eirich promotes a sense of community that includes all living beings. The impact is to change people’s perception of the role of wild animals in our community and, ultimately, the health of our planet.
“I felt an immediate draw for the environment and the people at Earthfire. Together we make a jumbled up team of creative people. Earthfire gave me a real sense of purpose, for the first time in my life, I was making a difference!” Raised in a small Central Texas town, Sally is the daughter of Jean & Swan Hagler. She has one son, William Jaster. Sally moved to Longview Texas in 1994 and worked for J W Power Co as the cost accountant and then worked for Zack Williams Reals Estate. After 20 years working as an accountant and office manager in Texas, Sally was ready for a new adventure in life. She took a vacation to Jackson Hole and fell in love with the mountains. She knew she wanted to move here and, when she found the office manager position at Earthfire, well the rest is history.
When Jean was five he drew a picture of himself walking in a park in France with animals following him. His mother said they always did. Studying to be a vet in Paris, he realized that he wanted a deeper relationship with animals than that would allow. He moved to the Rocky Mountains and taught himself how to train wolves through living with and understanding them. This led to a career training wild animals for movies, where he developed techniques based on reward and an amazing grasp of each species and each individual of that species. In 1989 he founded The Wild Bunch Ranch so that he could train based on his unique understanding of each species, and each individual of that species. He has trained and consulted on feature films, documentaries, commercials and still shoots, and worked with many of the most famous wildlife artists and photographers in the country. He is known in the industry for his humane training methods, his safety record, the beautiful condition of his animals, and his ability to get outstanding performances from them. Jean brings his talents in understanding and handling wild animals to Earthfire, as well as serving as consultant on animal welfare, safety and animal home design. To see how he works with Humble Bumble, the learning-disabled grizzly bear, or Mr. Pinkerton the blind lynx, is an enlightenment. The knowledge and thought he gives to designing homes and playgrounds for the animals gives us delightful insight into their emotional and physical needs and pleasures. Jean@earthfireinstitute.org
“From the beginning I was impressed by Susan’s ability to think big, her network and determination to make a change in the world. I feel fortunate to be part of the Earthfire team and look forward to help implement Earthfire’s new strategy; to develop a movement that engages people in various types of Conservation Conversations leading them to spiritual and ecological renewal.”
Michael Bredal received his BS in Finance from The University of Utah in 1989 and an MBA from Thunderbird (AZ) in 1990. He worked 6 years in Norway, his home country, and Germany where he expanded European Distributor Networks for US medical manufacturers. He married in 1993 and settled down in Teton Valley as V.P. for Action Products, Inc., a small US medical manufacturer out of Maryland. In 2013 he took local jobs and started renovating old houses to spend more time with his three kids. In 2015 he came across an Earthfire ad and have since been working for them in a project management capacity, both inside and outside the office. Michael enjoys working with dynamic people sharing a vision to ultimately make a worldwide impact in conservation.
Susan Eirich, Ph.D.
“Thus Earthfire serves as a successful powerful seed center of ideas, stimulating and reframing the discussion of conservation by including the voices of living beings usually outside our perceived community.”
Dr. Eirich holds a B.S. in biology from Cornell University, an M.A. in psychology from the New School for Social Research, and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kentucky. She worked for The Nature Conservancy for eight years as Executive Director for their Manitoga preserve, and has taught at universities here and overseas. During her career she has interwoven psychology, biology, education and conservation. Her goal is to forge a better understanding between humans, animals and nature, leading to a new conservation ethic that brings nature directly into the circle of our concern rather than as a peripheral consideration.
Through retreats, articles, newsletters, speaking, videos and social media, she engages with an international audience. She established the www.earthfireinstitute.org website, an effective technological platform resulting in nearly two million people viewing Earthfire’s animal videos. Dr. Eirich has written over 100 conservation themed articles. Her stories are typically illustrated by vivid observations of the wild animals at Earthfire, some of them shared in her “Wisdom of the Wild” article, published in the online Noetic Sciences Journal, January, 2012. Her most recent article “The Animals Are Calling Us to Council” was published in the Kosmos Journal on May 3rd, 2016. In 2015 she was filmed for the Emmy awarded PBS series “The Embrace of Aging,” where she discussed finding meaning in life by drawing on the wisdom of nature. The excerpt can be found on the Earthfire YouTube channel.
In addition to leading retreats at Earthfire she has spoken at numerous conferences including Connecting for Change, A Bioneers Event, 2013 and 2014; California Institute for the Arts 2012 - 2014; Science and Non-Duality 2014; International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, 2014 and Minding Animals International, New Delhi 2015.
Allan Blitz, Ed.D.
“Earthfire’s goal is to connect with Life. That, is nourishing. Connecting with animals is a grounding for us into Life. The modern world has strained relations with what Life is; all species, all Life including our environment – the earth, the sky. a good foundation Earthfire is on a path to relate us in a good way, enhancing our connection to the foundation of life so we can work in harmony with Life, not separate from it. We use animals and trees as a resource without regard to who they are and we have lost all connection with and respect for who they are… a potentially fatal arrogance on our part.”
Allan Blitz, Ed.D., has worked as a psychologist in universities, in private practice, and for 20 years in the NYC school system as a school psychologist. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in clinical school psychology. Additionally, he has an EDD in educational psychology. Allan has spent many summers travelling around North America on his motorcycle and particularly enjoys working with children. He now has a therapy dog who is working with both adults and children. His relationship with Earthfire allows him to explore his joy for the outdoors and wildlife and he has a profound respect for life and believes life needs to be nourished and dealt with positively.
"Earthfire has a unique place in the multitudes of environmental organizations around us. Jean and Susan speak for the animals but more importantly they help us, the supposedly most intelligent species on the planet, learn to listen to the animals voices. If there was one gift, talent or learning process that I wish for our species it is to truly learn the language of all species and that we evolve into a world of balance and understanding."
John Towner is a Registered Professional Land Surveyor and has owned and operated a surveying business in Colorado for 18 years. He has been involved for over 25 years with three different non-profit boards working to restore the wolf and its habitat to the Southern Rockies ecosystem. During this time, John was fortunate enough to meet Susan and Jean of Earthfire and he witnessed first-hand the true communication that is possible between humans and animals. “It has been my great fortune,” says John, “to be involved with Earthfire and watch the vision Susan and Jean created come to fruition.” https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-towner-2297391a
Elizabeth M. Kutter, Ph.D.
"Susan and her wolf-hybrid Tatanka lived with me for a year while she was team-teaching a course with me at Evergreen State College. He played a major role in drawing me into Susan's vision and dream. Later I met her whole young wolf pack. Holding one of the cubs, Stardance, feeling her immense vitality, drew me even more deeply into the pack and into strongly supporting Earthfire in its early struggles."
Elizabeth Kutter, Ph.D. is a professor emerita at the highly innovative, collaborative, nature-oriented Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she began teaching in 1972, a year after the college opened. She became drawn into the vision and promise of Earthfire when Susan Eirich, Ph.D. spent a year teaching with her in 1992-1993 in the full-time "Human Health and Behavior" program she had developed there, integrating psychology, sociology, health, nutrition, developmental biology, psychoneuroimmunology and related fields, and she has been a dedicated part of Earthfire since its founding. She still heads a Laboratory of Bacteriophage Biology there that she opened in 1973, working with the molecular biology, ecology and therapeutic applications of bacteriophages -- viruses that very specifically kill bacteria and have been used as very effective antimicrobials in some parts of the world, from France to the Republic of Georgia, since the 1930's. She put on her 22nd biennial Evergreen International Phage Meeting there last summer, drawing over 200 people from 48 countries, and has given invited talks about phage on all 6 inhabited continents, working toward their implementation in both human and animal health. She also heads a nonprofit Phagebiotics Research Foundation (See http://www.phagebiotics.org) working both internationally and locally to support phage therapy research and implementation. They have just published a case-series article in the Journal of Wound Care on their successful use of phage to treat diabetic toe ulcers which had not responded to conventional treatment, including antibiotics, and where amputation had become the major other option.
Member at large
"It is really important to know the animals in their entirety. When you see an animal you want to be able to look into its eyes and feel them, and Earthfire gives you that. The whole crux is to make sure that animals and humans live together in unity because we all live together on this planet and it is important for us to know each other."
Michelle Lund has been a member of the Sharon D. Lund Foundation since 1993. She is a great lover of animals, nature and people. “I know the significance of the three coming together and complementing the world we live in.” Being the Board’s newest member, Michelle looks forward to making an impact and thanks Earthfire for including her on this adventure.
Member at large
"I was drawn to Earthfire because of the respect they gave their animals."
Andrew Torgove is a managing director and head of the restructuring group at Lazard Middle Market. He has more than 25 years of experience in executing restructuring transactions, as well as M&A transactions and refinancing for both distressed and healthy companies. Recent engagements include representing Standard Register, Allen’s, American Safety Razor, Chem Rx Corporation, and the Unsecured Creditors Committee of Global Geophysical Services. Prior to joining Lazard Middle Market, Mr. Torgove was a managing director at Stairway Capital, a $330 million fund focused on buying distressed middle market companies, with a focus on purchasing senior debt positions. From 1996 to 2004, Mr. Torgove worked at HoulihanLokey Howard & Zukin and was co-head of their distressed M&A practice in New York from 2001-2004. Mr. Torgove received a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research, a Master’s Degree in economics from Boston College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi Honors Societies. https://www.lazard.com/our-firm/leadership/andrew-torgove/
“I have taught a number of courses and retreats on telepathic communication with the loving participation of the animals at Earthfire, thrilling and life-changing for all the students who attended. Earthfire treasures what I treasure: the integrity and sacred connection of all species as individuals and groups. We are One Life.”
Communicating with animals telepathically throughout her life, Penelope Smith discovered in 1971 that animals could be relieved of emotional traumas and other problems through the same counseling techniques that helped humans. The training and experience that have contributed to her success are her educational background, with bachelor's and master's degrees in the social sciences; years of training and experience in human counseling, nutrition, and holistic body energy balancing methods; research into animal nutrition, anatomy, behavior, and care; plus the firsthand education from the thousands of animals she has contacted.
For over thirty years, Penelope has been the founding pioneer for the field whose name she originated, interspecies telepathic communication. Author of the popular classic books in the field, Animal Talk, When Animals Speak, Animals in Spirit, many audio recordings, and editor of Species Link magazine, Penelope has held the hub of the growing community of animal communicators worldwide for decades. http://animaltalk.net/meet.htm
Always passionate about the natural world, Jean has been working with animals since 1971. In 1989 he founded The Wild Bunch Ranch so that he could train animals based on his unique understanding of each species, and each individual of that species. Jean brings his talents in understanding and handling wild animals to Earthfire, as well as serving as consultant on animal welfare, safety and animal home design. To see how he works with Humble Bumble, the learning-disabled grizzly bear, or Pinkerton the blind lynx, is enlightenment. The knowledge and thought he gives to designing homes and playgrounds for the animals gives Earthfire meaningful insight into their emotional and physical needs and pleasures.
“There is much that I love about Earthfire Institute. I love their noblest of aspirations based on well thought out principles and goals: to create a healthy world through an opening of connection to the rest of life, not just human life. I love that they love and care for individual animals on site; animals whom they treat as individuals, with love and respect and genuine connection. In this care, they "walk the talk" of their aspirations. I love that they are open to all of us who want to join in their mission. They do not stand on ceremony, or title, or dogma, but rather they are inclusive and inviting to all who want to join in this necessary work. I love that they want to hear from all of us; our ideas, our hopes, our energy and our passion. They listen, and they share their ideas with us. I love that they invoke hope as opposed to fear, possibilities as opposed to hopelessness, and collaboration as opposed to lecturing and shaming in all that they do to motivate and educate. Finally, I love that they understand that the "answers" are pathways to greater joy and happiness for human and all other life, not painful measures that require sacrifice and misery in order to save ourselves. It is my honor to be part of the Earthfire Institute team.”
Jon Schwartz, M. Ed. has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years, both as a clinician and in leadership positions within mental health organizations. Jon served as the Executive Director of Urban Peak, a center for runaway and homeless teens in Denver, CO and as Executive Director for Poyama Day Treatment Center outside of Salem, OR. He also served as Director of Foster Care Services for the Albertina Kerr Center in Portland, OR. Jon began his directorship of The Center for Self Leadership in 2008. Jon earned a bachelors degree in Psychology from Macalester College and a Masters of Counseling Education from The College of Idaho. He is married to his wife Sara and lives in Salem, Oregon with his sons Max and Elijah, and their dog Aja. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jon-schwartz-6a22b113
“Earthfire to me is an important place to connect with other life forms that make this planet whole, meaningful, and possible.”
Janet brings her love of the outdoors and the natural world to the Earthfire Advisory Circle, as well as her non-profit skills. With a B.A. in Outdoor Education and an M.S. in Experiential Education, Janet started the non-profit Four Corners School of Outdoor Education in 1984 – an outgrowth of her love for the Colorado Plateau and desire to teach others about the need to understand and protect it, and the power of place-based education to change lives. Prior to founding Four Corners School, Janet worked for over 15 years as a backcountry ranger and wilderness specialist for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service, and as an educator and guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Colorado Outward Bound, Prescott College, and other outdoor programs. She retired at the end of 2016 after completing the construction of the Canyon Country Discovery Center, a portal to place-based education about the Colorado Plateau and new campus for Four Corners School on 48 acres just north of Monticello, Utah.
A retired advertising and television executive, Linda moved to the Teton Valley from Los Angeles in 1998. She was introduced to Earthfire in 2000 when friends from England visited the sanctuary – seeking a “unique animal experience”. Passionate about animals and their rightful place in the world, Linda was instantly hooked on the Earthfire vision. Linda now serves as an Advisory Circle member, sharing her skills in writing, public relations and all things animal.
Sarah McLean is a best-selling author of Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation. She is an inspiring, contemporary meditation teacher who makes meditation accessible to everyone. As the founding director of the Sedona Meditation Training Company and the McLean Meditation Institute, Sarah makes the practice accessible to everyone through meditation and self-discovery retreats, and by training health professionals and individuals how to teach others to meditate. Deepak Chopra recommends her work saying it’s “entertaining, informative, and inspiring for even the most experienced meditator.”
“I value the care with which the animals at Earthfire are treated and honored as beings whose lives are as important to them as ours are to us.”
Susan Marsh is an award-winning writer living in Jackson, Wyoming. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service for over thirty years. With degrees in geology and landscape architecture and a lifelong interest in creative writing, she has combined her interests into a body of work that explores the relationship of humans to wild country.
"Collectively, we human beings seem to have a knack for creating futures that none of us want. What I love about Earthfire Institute is that it is widening our field of awareness to include the voices and wisdom of our animal co-travelers on this Earth. This gives me hope that we will find a way forward together."
Richard Landry is the founder and CEO of richmedium, a social innovation design firm that helps purpose-driven organizations discover new ways to create value in our interconnected world. A senior executive with more than thirty years of experience leading emerging enterprises through periods of transformative change, Landry is an innovator and thought leader in the convergence of media, technology, and social purpose, and has been at the forefront of new ways to fund and grow social enterprises. Landry works with business and nonprofit leaders, investors, and funders to design and implement powerful, collaborative solutions that address our most pressing challenges, fulfill human needs and aspirations, and secure our planet for future generations.
Landry was editor-in-chief and associate publisher of PC World magazine, and chairman and CEO of HyperMedia Communications, publisher of NewMedia, one of the first advertising-supported media ventures on the Internet. He has served as a member of the board of directors of Social Venture Network and Zen Hospice Project.
“I remember my first trip to Earthfire and the awe with which I beheld the wild animals that are sheltered there. I immediately could see the power of helping people to make connections with wild creatures. I'm very honored to have been asked to join the Advisory Circle and to help share the message of what connects us all.”
Currently acting as a Senior Advisor for Y2Y, Wendy has spent most of her career advocating for wilderness and wildlife. Her love of nature was nurtured during her childhood in Ontario, where all weekends and summer holidays were spent outside in neighborhood woods or at the family cottage near Algonquin Provincial Park. Wendy cut her teeth on conservation issues as a volunteer with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) in Calgary, participating in successful public campaigns to oppose development in Banff National Park. In 1991, then-Premier Ralph Klein appointed Wendy to a review panel that led to strengthening the province’s environmental protection legislation. In 1996, she decided to make her career in conservation, going on to help protect southern Alberta’s Whaleback region, create Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, and secure provincial park protection for Kananaskis Country. She later helped to create a new Endangered Species Act for Ontario and was a key member of the project that launched the Canadian Boreal Initiative and led to Ontario’s commitment to protect 50 per cent of its northern boreal forest. Educated in biology and environmental law, Wendy was the founding conservation director for CPAWS in Calgary, director of conservation science for Ontario Nature in Toronto, and was program director for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative for several years. In 2012, she received both a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wilburforce Foundation’s Conservation Leadership Award for her efforts. https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button
Philbin de Got
“In my heart, I truly believe that we all need to learn to respect all people and to do that we have to learn about them. Lack of knowledge breeds lack of understanding. Our lack of respect and fear of many animals stems from that same lack of knowledge. I also realize that we all need to be responsible in our actions and use good sense when in the homes of wild animals. To have a learning institution that promotes and shares information to help humans and animals coexist, is a gift to Teton Valley as well as far reaching locations. Personally, I love to sit and watch these animals move, sleep, and watch me right back. They are a joy..”
Philbin holds a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She has worked professionally in illustration, graphic design, jewelry design, portraits, still life, landscape painting and murals. She and business partner, Joe Rayman, opened the nationally recognized mural and trompe l’oeil studio, Rayman• de Got Studios, in 1985. Their work decorates public buildings and homes throughout the U.S. Philbin and her husband, Jim, moved to the Teton Valley in 2003 to be closer to their sons and their families. Philbin has always been inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of nature and its surroundings. Philbin’s art has graced two books by Earthfire, Swatworth, Josie and the Buffalo Girls, and Into the Space and Silence. She has also provided numerous illustrations for Earthfire’s website and presentations.
Rose de Dan
“Over the years the animals taught me a wild way to heal, and in return they requested that I bring people to them in ceremony so that the people and animals could co-create a new way of walking together in the world. I asked to be shown a place where it was possible to do that—one where the animals were recognized as physical, emotional AND spiritual beings—and I was guided to Earthfire Institute. When I met Susan, Jean and the animal ambassadors who call Earthfire home for the first time in 2010 I was deeply touched by all of them, but mountain lion teacher Windwalker and timber wolf Cucumber made a huge impression. Meeting them took what I had learned to a much deeper level and I am forever changed. Each year that I return feel the connections between the people and the animals shift to the next level, and I have hope for our future together. I am so profoundly grateful to Susan, Jean and the animals for the beauty they create together. It is a privilege to support their mission in every way possible so that the voices of the animals may be heard by many.”
In practice since 1996, Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing, blends animal communication and energy healing in a unique way. An early pioneer in the field of complementary healing for people and animals, and an animal shaman, Rose's work is inspired by a shamanic vision in which wild and domestic animals issued a call to action to save the Earth and assistance in co-creating a sustainable future. Her mission is to help people hear the voices of the animals and create lives in connection with All Our Relations. She offers private sessions and ceremonies for humans and animals, and teaches Reiki and shamanic teleclasses from Seattle, Washington. Visit her to see upcoming classes, events/ceremonies, videos and articles. http://www.ReikiShamanic.com
"My spirit has always needed and LOVED connection with Animals. To be able to connect to our wild brothers and sisters at Earthfire is enriching, uplifting and unforgettable! Something not to be missed...!"
Kris first came to the Teton Valley in 1978 when she performed with the Grand Teton Music Festival. She is an internationally renowned opera and concert singer who has over the last 28 years performed leading roles as dramatic soprano at many of the world’s greatest opera houses. Her love and appreciation for the Teton Mountains (she has climbed the Grand twice!) and Teton Valley and its community led her to join the Advisory Circle for Earthfire Institute. Kristine is married to Norman Bailey, world renowned Wagnerian bass-baritone and they are very well trained by their six wonderful adopted dogs. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristine-ciesinski-57460011
“I feel a deep resonance with the work of Earthfire Institute whose mission to connect with an ‘ever-expanding circle of life’ echoes my highest goals as a writer and researcher.”
A writer and ethnographer based in San Francisco whose work is rooted in the belief that an authentic story opens up a space of connection that creates the basis for understanding, communication and effective action. Jeffrey crafts clear, evocative stories that capture the essence of who his clients are and help them translate that story into an effective and actionable strategy to attain their goals. Jeffrey’s involvement with Earthfire Institute began with a storytelling analysis of Earthfire’s communication efforts. He looks forward to helping Earthfire move toward fulfilling its vision of transforming the relationship between humans and nature. Specializing in arts-related issues, Jeffrey provides writing & research services, project management and strategic planning. He is also a cultural analyst, whose writing on popular culture appears in scholarly and popular publications, and a creative writer and published poet. He received an MA in Music from UC Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA Musical Community, his MA thesis, examined the history of the blues nightclub district in North Richmond, California. His doctoral dissertation, French Fries in The Tagine: Re-imagining Moroccan Popular Music, looked at the emergence of an alternative music subculture in Morocco. https://decipheringculture.com/
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