Walking and Writing, Art and Curiosity

We believe that a good naturalist walks with ever-growing attentiveness, curiosity, wisdom, wildness, and creativity. We have found that drawing, writing, and other contemplative and creative exercises help us to grow in these ways.

winter books

Reading and Writing Nature workshop.

Our writing workshops have been lead and mentored by John T. Price, Matthew Low, Genevieve Williams, Joe Janowski, and Laura Johnson Dahlke. Essays and Poetry produced in these workshops has been featured on our blog: Loess Hills Nature Writers.



Sauntering by Robert Smith.

Our visual arts workshops have been lead and mentored by Sarah Berkeley, Anna Stoysich, and Christina Narwicz, Mark Hirsch, and Madeline Cass. Each of these visual artists has featured nature-themed art and photography in publications and galleries to celebrate the Loess Hills and challenge our concepts of nature and how humans interact with the natural world.




Credits clockwise from top left: Becky Colgrove, Sarah Berkeley, Cub Phillips, group haiku, Michelle Miller.

We seek to sharpen our attentiveness, mindfulness, to see with new eyes, and to find ourselves in unfamiliar light. No experience is necessary, only curiosity. And desire.

October 2017 nature-writing workshops: Sunday mornings at Hitchcock Nature Center. October 8th, 22nd, and 29th, 9 – 11:30am.  Workshop leaders: Genevieve Williams and Jack Phillips. For more information and to register, contact Jack at newtreeschool@gmail.com. 

Autumn Saunters: Saturdays, November 11th, 18th, and 25th at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa, 9 – 11am. No tuition, but registration is required. Contact Jack to register and for meeting place. A Pocket Guide to Sauntering is available for a $10 suggested donation.

November Nature Writing workshop, Sunday the 19th, 9am at Hitchcock Nature Center. Please register with Jack.

Poetry of Walking Loess: A Nature-writing Retreat

Sunday, December 3rd at Waubonsie State Park, 9am – 4pm.


A Saunter in the Loess Hills, after Thoreau. (Photo by Robert Smith.)

Matt Low, Ph.D. and Genevieve Williams, MFA (candidate) will be our writing mentors in the woods and by the fire as we discover how writing poetry and reflective essays can sharpen awareness and mindfulness in nature. The day will include art activities, quiet times for contemplation, a bit of yoga, bright conversations in our cozy cabin, and rugged walking for those who love to saunter late in the season.

Tuition: $40; full time students: $20. Registration by December 29th is required. More details and a list of what to bring will be provided. Contact Jack Phillips at thenaturalistschool@gmail.com or 420.571.7460 for more information and to register.

December Saunters* at Waubonsie and Hitchcock

Sunday, December 10th, 9 – 11am. Waubonsie State Park, Fremont County, Iowa. We’ll meet at the overlook parking lot. Sunday, December 17th, 9 – 11am. Washawtee Unit. We’ll meet at the lodge parking lot.

Solstice Saunter

Thursday, December 21st, 7 – 9pm.  Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Iowa, Contact Jack for meeting place and other details.

* A Saunter is a quiet and contemplative walk after the manner of Thoreau. To prepare, read Thoreau’s essay “Walking.”

Please contact Jack to let us know if we can expect you, and to announce changes due to weather: newtreeschool@gmail.com or cell: 402.571.7460.