Advisory Circle

Help us build our new bear gardens

Sierra Flanigan

Sierra Flanigan

Based in Snowmass, Colorado, Sierra works at the nexus of leadership development and systems regeneration through a broad set of collaborations and via her own change agency Living Lab. Sierra is a facilitator, coach, yogi, artist and visionary. She has spent her career working to integrate holistic sustainability initiatives into schools, businesses and people. She is a big-picture, creative thinker, an empath, an optimist, a lover of life and a cheerleader for what’s possible when we step out of our problems and into our potential. In 2009, Sierra received her undergraduate degree from Wheaton College (Norton, MA), where she planted an apple orchard that laid the groundwork for her career in campus sustainability. In 2019, Sierra earned her graduate degree from the Blekinge Institute of Technology (Karlskrona, Sweden) with a Masters in Strategic Leadership Toward Sustainability. Sierra believes that the systems change we need so desperately is possible through a deep connection with nature and the moment. Sierra is intent on leveraging her professional network to advance the goals of Earthfire and amplify the practice of Reconnection Ecology® on a global scale. 

Maura Connolly Anderson skiing in the mountains with a dog

Maura Connolly Anderson, DVM

Maura Connolly Anderson DVM graduated veterinary school from Washington State University in 2003 Magna Cum Laude. She worked in mixed practice in Wyoming before settling in Teton Valley. Maura loves working on all types of animals. In addition to dogs, cats, horses, and cattle, Maura also enjoys camelids, goats, exotic pets, and any opportunity to help on wildlife projects. She has been part of the Victor Vet team since 2010. In the spring of 2017 Dr. Maura Connolly Anderson bought Victor Veterinary Hospital, continuing a legacy of professional work with Dr. Linville.

Linda Bender

Linda Bender, DVM

Dr. Linda Bender holds a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine, is a gifted healer, intuitive, and spiritual teacher. She is an internationally renowned animal advocate, speaker, and author of the award winning Amazon best-seller Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals. Her work has been endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, and many more.

During the fourteen years she spent living in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, her work included the rescue, rehabilitation, and protection of wildlife. This work deepened her passion to be a strong voice for the voiceless in the world. Her interest in spirituality led her to study many of the world’s wisdom and healing traditions, she is a certified teacher of meditation, Ayurveda and energy medicine.

She is the co-founder of From the Heart, a non-profit charity that directly serves animals and their habitats.

Rose De Dan with a dog

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 website to see upcoming classes, events/ceremonies, videos and articles.

Kareen Erbe picking broccoli

Kareen Erbe

Kareen has a BSc. in Environmental Science from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and is an experienced permaculture practitioner. She obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2006 and completed an advanced permaculture program taught by renowned designer Geoff Lawton, at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. This included specific training in earthworks, composting methods, soil biology, and urban permaculture design. Kareen was also trained in teaching permaculture by Rosemary Morrow, author of the Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture.

She has a Master Gardener Level 1 and Master Composter Certification, training in Ecology Action’s Grow Biointensive methods and participated in a Food Forest Design Charrette for Helena’s 6th Ward Garden Park with author, teacher, and designer Dave Jacke. She has also worked as a permaculture consultant for the sustainability organization GoodtoChina in Shanghai, China, and volunteered on numerous organic farms in Australia, New Zealand, Western Massachusetts, and Montana, including Gallatin Valley Botanical and Three Hearts Farm in Bozeman. Kareen is currently one of 40 teachers involved in the Online Women’s Permaculture Design Course and has also been teaching with Jerome Osentowski, author of Forest Garden Greenhouse and founder of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

Kareen is a regular contributor to Rocky Mountain Gardening Magazine, Permaculture Women Magazine, and was featured in The New Pioneer.

Wendy Francis

Wendy Francis

“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 be a member of the Advisory Circle and to help share the message of what connects us all.”

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. Trained in biology and law, Wendy served at senior levels leading wildlife or wilderness protection campaigns with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) in Calgary, Ontario Nature in Toronto, and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative in Banff, Alberta. Most recently, Wendy served as Executive Director for the Sunshine Coast Foundation, a position from which she retired early in 2022. In 2012, Wendy received both a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wilburforce Foundation’s Conservation Leadership Award in recognition of her efforts.

Jeff Hogan with camera

Jeff Hogan

“If it takes me a whole day or two days to get a shot of a beaver coming down the stream, I don’t need patience. While I am waiting there is unlimited entertainment. To be amongst all that life, sitting in the middle of it, is incredible. I am in awe of the life around us. The wild just blows me away.”

Cinematographer Jeff Hogan has been filming and photographing wildlife around the world for over 30 years, earning numerous awards for his work, including several Emmy nominations for cinematography. Being a naturalist at heart, Jeff’s passion is to witness wildlife behavior and to provide us a privileged view into the secret lives of wildlife, capturing intimate imaging that illustrates just what it takes for our wildlife to make a living and highlighting the unique stories that abound throughout the natural world. Jeff resides in the heart of the Yellowstone ecosystem with his wife Karen and son Finn, with homes in Jackson Hole, WY, and Silver Gate, MT. Living at the doorstep of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Jeff often captures behavioral sequences rarely witnessed in the wild. Bringing these images and stories to the screen is Jeff’s goal, with the understanding and hope that society will respond with a desire to conserve and protect all life and treasure our incredible natural world.

Dahr Jamail standing on a rocky coastline

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is the author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption (The New Press, 2019), a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Science Writing Award. Dahr has also won numerous other awards including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism and the Izzy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Media.

More recently, with Stan Rushworth, Dahr co-authored We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices Speak On the Changing Earth (The New Press, 2022). Dahr feels this book has been the single greatest contribution from his writing career to life on Earth to date.

Living in Port Townsend, Washington, on the coast of the Salish Sea, Dahr spends as much time as possible outdoors, listening.

Ann London standing under an African Elephant

Anne E. London

Anne E. London is an internationally recognized American artist whose work combines two of her passions: visual art, and the conservation and celebration of endangered species. Through her earlier Intaglio engravings, to her latest work with impressionistic charcoal and watercolor, Anne brings to life breathtaking portraits of wildlife in their natural habitats. In 2020, Anne received the prestigious Simon Combes Conservation Award from the organization Artists for Conservation. 

Susan Marsh

Susan Marsh

“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.

Janet Ross

Janet Ross

“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.

Stan Rushworth headshot

Stan Rushworth

Stan Rushworth is Faculty Emeritis at Cabrillo College, in Aptos, California, having taught Native American Literature for thirty years, including similar work at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a lecturer. He also worked for eighteen years at Cabrillo’s Watsonville Center teaching basic skills and critical thinking surrounding Indigenous peoples’ issues, including six years as Co-Director/Instructor of the Puente Program, an educational project focused in the Chicano community. He currently writes and speaks towards issues concerning Indigenous peoples both local to his area and beyond. He authored  Sam Woods: American Healing (Station Hill Press, New York) in 1992; Going to Water: The Journal of Beginning Rain (Talking Leaves Press, Freedom, CA) in 2014, and Diaspora’s Children (Hand to Hand Publishing, Los Angeles) in 2020. His current publication is co-edited with  Dahr Jamail, We Are The Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices From Turtle Island on the Changing Earth (The New Press, New York) 2022.

Penelope Smith with a dog

Penelope Smith

“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.

Matthew Zylstra

Matthew J. Zylstra, Ph.D.

Matthew is a systems ecologist and outdoor practitioner passionate about deepening the human-nature relationship for the long-term health of people and planet. He has 20 years of international experience in social-ecological research, field education and immersive facilitation. His transdisciplinary PhD in Conservation Ecology and Education through Stellenbosch University (2014) explored how meaningful experiences and nature connectedness support pro-environmental behaviour and deep learning. His work has since informed several global initiatives, such as #NatureForAll, #GoSlowforaMo, and the Planetary Health Alliance’s guiding education framework. Matthew is a Research Associate with CST-Stellenbosch University, and Scientific Advisor for The Connective and the Kwendalo Institute, where his contributions centre on nature connectedness and harmony for psycho-social wellbeing and transformative education.