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The Earth Studies Lifestyle & Animal Connection (Course ID: 1FG-2018)

  • The International School for Earth Studies 197 Chemin Fierobin Ladysmith, QC, J0X 2A0 Canada (map)

The Earth Studies Lifestyle & Animal Connection (Course ID: 1FG-2018)

Length: 6 weeks
Dates: Sep 10 - Oct 21, 2018
Age: 18-22 years
Cost: $7,244.00 USD (all inclusive, tax included)
Prerequisite: Previous experience working with animals, comfortable in the outdoors.

Ground Policy

Students should be: self-motivated, physically fit, able to exercise appropriate independent living skills, and willing to engage in all activities. Ensuring respect and safety for students, resident animals and staff members is the responsibility of all course participants.


Course Description

The Earth Studies Lifestyle & Animal Connection

Autumn is a season of change: changing leaves, changing bird migrations, and changing animal foresting patterns as they prepare for winter. It’s a season of hard work and organization. This environmental leadership course teaches students about outdoor lifestyle and emergency skills, environmental literacy through leadership language and animal connection, so they may become more nature savvy in this busy time of year.

At Earth Studies we believe that maintaining a strong connection between people and nature is paramount. The Earth Studies Lifestyle + Animal Connection course focuses on creating and reinforcing this connection by following our four pillars: environmental literacy, animal connection, outdoor recreation and self-defence. In addition, this unique program brings together North American, European and First Nations students.

Structured daily activities, group discussions and critical thinking exercises inherent to operational tasks and chores immerse students in an environment that nurtures and expands the qualities of character essential to leadership. Ultimately, this program will provide gappers with the confidence and basic skill sets with which they can act as responsible and engaging stewards of the environment regardless of their future career


List of Course Components

Component 1 of 7: The Earth Studies Lifestyle (80 hrs.)

Cooperative group living, living an active outdoor lifestyle, acting out daily chores and discovering nature by learning indigenous edible plants, growing organic vegetables and nurturing a medicine-wheel garden highlights the Earth Studies lifestyle. Stargazing, moonlit hikes and midnight paddling connect students with elements of the natural, nocturnal world. Learning outdoor survival skills, flat water canoeing and wilderness canoe tripping further complement the course.

DVDs, group discussions and a 10-day field studies tour to the eastern Great Lakes help students gain awareness of pressing North American land use issues, such as increasing energy demand and the nuclear energy debate, diminishing Great Lakes water quality and stability of fish stocks, the systematic destruction of natural habitats and the effects on regional Indigenous populations, their cultures and traditions.

1.1 Curriculum involvement;
1.2 Meal preparation & housing accommodations; 1.3 Camping, canoeing, swimming;
1.4 Leave No Trace;
1.5 Outdoor wilderness survival;
1.6 Animal environmental impact;
1.7 Teamwork and leadership;
1.8 Interdependent studies workshops; and
1.9 Limited free time.


Component 2 of 7: Animal Connection (40 hrs.)

Since settling on the shores of Indian Lake in 1990, wild and domestic animals have been part of the Earth Studies lifestyle. In 1994 the Cushing’s acquired a special Wildlife Observation Permit issued by the Government of Québec to rehabilitate indigenous birds of prey and mammals. To date, their efforts have successfully rescued and released hundreds of wild animals back into the wilds. Earth Studies remains one of the only privately funded facilities offering this service in the province.

In addition, and core to our Animal Husbandry program, are the sled dogs. In 2002, Cushing Kennels began rekindling an old heritage bloodline known as the “Seppala Siberian Husky,” which dates back to the famous serum run in 1925 and the saving of children from the deadly diphtheria epidemic in Alaska. Cushing Kennels is presently home to 18 huskies and is dedicated to promoting Sled Dog Sports through Dog Behaviour Training, consulting and education that focuses on establishing healthy people-dog relationships.

While researching for a breed of horse that would represent our school and equine program, our attention kept getting drawn to the hardy ‘little iron horse’ known as the ‘Canadian.’ After owning several horse breeds, we added our first Canadian in 2001 and have never looked back. The ancestries of the equine partners here at Earth Studies are famous in their own right, as the Canadian helped carve a nation. Our herd presently consist of five Canadians, one Friesian-Paint and a Newfoundland Pony.

2.1 Introduction to resident animal groups;
2.2 Student training with dogs and horses;
2.3 Confident leadership & responsibility;
2.4 Code of conducts;
2.5 Environmentally normalized social interactions; and
2.6 Ethical treatment of animals.

Component 3 of 7: Seasonal Dog Musher Training (40 hrs.)

The Dog Masters USA has partnered with Earth Studies to offer a Dog Musher Training course. In this component you’ll learn about the incredible traditional art of dog-powered sports through 40 hrs. of immersive group and individual workshops with the Earth Studies’ pack of 18-Siberian Huskies.

By the end of this course, you will have a solid foundation of skills and experience living with dogs and supervising pack dynamics to pursue your passion in animal education and outdoor travel. Upon completion of this course, you'll also receive a certificate.

3.1 Dog Behaviour Training;
3.2 Dog Psychology and Education;
3.3 Sled Dog Sports Training;
3.4 Leadership and Risk Management; and 3.5 Animal Husbandry.


Component 4 of 7: Eastern Great Lakes and Nuclear Energy Field Studies Tour (10 days)

For 10 days students will embark on a study tour of discovery to the eastern Great Lakes region and explore beautiful rugged landscapes steeped in culture and history. This adventure also introduces students to the history of Canada's nuclear power industry, some of eastern Canada's active reactors, the challenges faced during their decommissioning and the growing problems in containing radioactive waste.

This tour will travel entirely within the vast traditional territory of the Anishinawbeg/Ojibway First Nations, the Indigenous People who thrived in these areas for millennia prior to colonization. Students will have ample opportunity to meet with Anishinawbeg/Ojibway people, especially with those actively working in the fields of environmental stewardship and long-term sustainable development. Time and circumstances permitting, students will also visit nearby environmental science research centres working on research related to climate change and the ever-increasing number of threats to the health and sustainability of the region's ecosystems. Interacting with scientific and Indigenous experts, students will gain a wide range of insight and perspectives about the unique and rich biodiversity of the region.

4.1 Tour two Canada Nuclear Laboratories and a de-commissioned reactor site in Chalk Rivier/Roplhton and have conversations with local expertise;

4.2  Learn more about the City of Sudbury and their massive citizen-generated environmental clean-up initiative;

4.3  Visit Manitoulin Island/North Shore Anishiniawbe and learn more about the Ojibwe First Nations culture and their environmental work and perspectives;

4.4 Study the ecosystems of the Bruce Peninsula/Georgian Bay/Eastern Lake Huron Shore areas and the ecological risks that endanger them;

4.5 Interact with scientific and Indigenous People’s experts from Nawash and Saugeen First Nations;

4.6  Visit the Cape Croker/Nawash/Neyaashiinigmiing/Lion's Head/Douglas Point Nuclear decommissioned reactor/Sauble Shores;

4.7  Visit Ste Marie Among the Huron’s national historic site first established by French Jesuits in 1639; and

4.8  Visit Algonquin Park, the oldest provincial park in Canada est. in 1893.

Component 5 of 7: Introduction to Krav Maga Self-Defense (10 hrs.)

Krav Maga is a military and civilian self-defense and fighting system that derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, Aikido, Judo and Karate along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is known for its simplicity of execution, focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency. A motto is, “Do whatever is needed to cause as much damage as possible to your attacker and get away safely”.

This course is an introduction to self-defense and awareness training, as youth and adults of all genders continue to be victims from various forms of assault and abuse.

There will be ample opportunity to ask questions throughout the course. It is expected that students will keep an open mind, be ready to learn, and practice the drills and techniques with great care. By the end of this course you will understand:

5.1 The basic principles of self-defense;
5.2 The difference between a hard target and an easy target;
5.3 The importance of awareness;
5.4 How everyday items can be used for self-defense;
5.5 Some of the commercial products on the market for personal protection; and 5.6 Basic physical tactics for personal protection.


Component 6 of 7: Introduction to Natural Horsemanship (10 hrs.)

The focus of this course component is on the history of equine, horse care, groundwork, conditioning and riding stable management. This instruction provides students with unique opportunities to engage and connect with horses. Our natural horsemanship methods are adopted from several equine trainers, including world renowned Tom Dorrance, Guy Maclean, Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli, Margrit Coates and Dr. Rowling.

Horses are one of the fundamental building blocks to becoming an animal savvy individual. Students of all ages can experience the magic of being around these amazing animals and gain invaluable understanding of horses in society. Principle highlights of our equestrian course are to:

  • Confidently assess horse and human safety in any situation

  • Become horse savvy

  • Ride safely

  • Learn different methods of natural horsemanship and gain insight to holistic

    equine connection

  • Learn and apply practical knowledge

  • Be able to care for a horse by yourself

  • Promote high safety standards by requiring all riders to wear CSA approved

    riding helmets and vests

  • Have fun with horses!

Our herd is core to the Animal Connection that students experience while at Earth Studies. We believe there is always a more responsible and accountable way when working with any animal group. This approach has led to our natural horsemanship program. You will discover each of the horse’s personalities while you take part in their care and well-being. Goals of this course are:

6.1 Herd dynamics;
6.2 Animal language;
6.3 Horse behavior & training; 6.4 Horse psychology;
6.5 The 4 horsenalities;
6.6 Situational awareness;
6.7 Methods of training;
6.8 Introduction to Parelli 7-Games; and
6.9 Equine nutrition, conditioning & maintenance.


Component 7 of 7: Advanced Sled Dog Sports (80 hrs.)

This unique 2-week course runs consecutively to the Earth Studies Lifestyle & Animal Connection course and builds on the experiences, skill sets, and confidences acquired during the Animal Connection component. Students will have opportunity to canicross, go bikejoring or dog carting as the huskies are trained in preparation for the winter sledding months ahead. Students will also engage in therapeutic aquatic canine conditioning and rehabilitation. The primary course goals focus on:

7.1 Extended sled dog dry land training experiences;
7.2Trail, kennel and equipment maintenance;
7.3 Daily log entries and case history development;
7.4 Nutrition, conditioning, triage and aquatic therapy; and
7.5 Volunteering at the Canadian Dryland Sled Dog Championships, Bristol Québec.




For additional information and planning details, please contact Mr. Geoffrey Cushing, Director of Operations for any Internships & Gap Course related questions at 819-647-3226 or