Herbal Medics Academy Faculty 2023
Sam has worked extensively with herbs since 1987 and formally as a clinical herbalist for over 15 years. He served in the US Army for 10 years of which 6 were as a US Special Forces Medic (aka Green Beret Medic, 18D). He is a registered herbalist (RH) with the American Herbalists Guild, a Wilderness EMT (WEMT), and a Wilderness First
Responder instructor. Sam has BA in Linguistics and a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM), and is currently (2023) working on obtaining his acupuncture license in New Mexico. He also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Jamie Miller (Renzo Gracie San Antonio).
Sam’s primary goal for the school has become the creation of an integrative medical model that embraces western herbalism, advanced botanical medicine-making, vitalism and western emergency & functional medicine. However, beyond medicine, he has strived to create curriculum that also focuses on off-grid environments (e.g. austere medicine) where herbalism is possibly the only truly sustainable medicine.
Sam has created over 1000 hours of instruction for Herbal Medics Academy and The Human Path. These programs include clinical and austere herbal medicine, advanced medicine making, off-grid engineering, self-defense, functional fitness, wilderness survival, medical reconnaissance. Clinically, Sam has worked with thousands of patients in both urban and remote, post-disaster and under-served areas.
Suchil is the Director for The Human Path as well as Herbal Medics Academy. She brings a diverse background to the Provider program at the school, with a strong history of preserving and canning foods, a love of wildcrafting and a mission to take the school into more sustainable and off-grid directions whenever possible.
She has a degree in Fine Arts Photography and studied journalism, worked as a neuromuscular massage therapist for a decade, received her Permaculture Design Certificate from Geoffrey Lawton in 2015, and helps to organize and manage apothecary operations in clinics and classes.
Suchil teaches homesteading courses at the school and helped to develop The Apothecarist program, an intermediate medicine making course that she helps to instruct with two others. In 2019, she released the Female Medic program for specialized health care in the field environment.
Kyla Helm, M.D.
Dr. Helm-Swanson received her Medical Doctorate from the Academy of South Dakota School of Medicine in 1993 and is triple Board Certified in Family Medicine, Pain Medicine and Anti-Aging, Functional and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Helm completed a Family Practice Residency at Ft. Benning, GA in 1999 and served in the US Army until 2001.
Given her passion to find and treat the root cause of illnesses, Dr. Helm obtained training in integrative and complementary interventions to augment her traditional medical education. She used these techniques to manage complex medical conditions such as chronic pain and fibromyalgia, and obtained her Board Certification in Pain Medicine in 2004.
Dr. Helm became Board Certified in Functional and Restorative Medicine in 2011 and completed her Advanced Fellowship in Restorative Medicine the same year. Dr. Helm uses an integrative functional medicine approach to provide comprehensive, individualized healthcare to her patients. She has provided these services to adults and children with great success.
Dr. Helm has traveled extensively with her husband who is a career US Army officer. She and her family recently moved from the Texas Hill Country to South Dakota.
Steve Pehrson, M.D.
Dr. Steve Pehrson’s career in medicine began in 1977 as he entered and completed the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course as a Special Forces Medic (18D). Following his residency he returned to Utah transferring back into the 19th Special Forces Group and was assigned as the Battalion Surgeon for the 1st Battalion of the 19th SFGA.
Dr. Pehrson has been a licensed practicing physician since 1986. He attended a family medicine residency in Wisconsin. Steve is also board eligible in emergency medicine and spent much of his early career in that field. He was awarded the State of Utah EMS Physician of the year award in 1994, and the State of Utah Emergency Physician of the Year award in 1995.
Dr. Pehrson is active in instructing wilderness and prolonged pre-hospital care. He developed a 350-hour curriculum for prolonged pre-hospital care which was approved and adopted by the State of Utah for advanced EMT’s and paramedics.
He retired from the Indian Health Service in 2013 as a GS-15 with his last assignment being the Clinical Director for the Ft. Duchesne Indian Health Center on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, a position he held for seven years.
Midwife, Doula, Family Herbalist Instructor
Katia LeMone is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) serving as a homebirth midwife for the Las Cruces New Mexico and El Paso Texas area since 1991. She is the senior midwife for All Natural Birth, a homebirth service for Dona Ana county. Katia is certified through the North American Registry of Midwives and she is a licensed midwife in New Mexico.
Katia has been serving women and homebirth families for many years as a midwife in Las Cruces and El Paso. She was trained at Maternidad La Luz in El Paso in 1991 and has attended over 500 births including home births and birth center births. Katia has lived and worked with Native American communities, East African villages and she grew up on the US/Mexico border. She has a Masters Degree in Public Health and is a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Midwife in New Mexico.
Mel Bailey, RN
Midwife, Doula, Instructor
Mel Bailey is a Midwife, Nurse, Certified Health Coach, Family Herbalist, and Yoga instructor. She is also an Evidence Based Birth Instructor and Evidence Based Childbirth Educator. Mel has been involved in women’s health care for over 20 years, attending her first birth in 1997. She is the Assistant Director of EarthWise Midwives & Doulas, and an instructor and evaluator at Academia Tierra Sabia in Cuatemoc, Mexico.
Mel facilitates trainings both state-side and internationally for birth workers, as well as disaster relief workers and others in need of emergency birth skills. Mel is also the founder of Wellness Within, providing personalized wellness guidance to individuals during pregnancy and birth, and nurturing new families.
Carol is an herbalist, naturalist and environmental engineer. A free-roaming child of the hills & forests of Western Pennsylvania, she has foraged and taught others about the natural world from a young age. For the last 15 years she has lived on a small homestead in Central Florida, growing subtropical medicinals in her food forest and getting to know a bioregion vastly different from her beloved Appalachia.
Carol believes in promoting self-sufficiency and fostering people’s connection with the natural world through teaching others how to use locally abundant plants for food and medicine.
Carol began studying with The Human Path in 2011 to improve her skills as an herbal clinician in daily and post-disaster scenarios. She assists and teaches courses for the Herbal Clinician Program, and mentors student clinicians participating in the Tele-Clinic Program.
Botany, Spanish Language Instructor
Originally from Texas, Michael has honed his ethno-botanical and herbal knowledge through years of study with elders in Mexico, Guatemala and California.
He earned his BA in Latin American Studies with a minor in Spanish at Alliant International University, Mexico City and has been studying plant medicine and clinical herbalism for over twenty five years.
Michael has been working with The Human Path for over five years and recently has started teaching bioregional plant identification and botany for herbalists courses.
Michael and Suchil have also developed a clinical Spanish language program specifically targeted to health care professionals and herbalists, bringing clinical Spanish language aptitude into the skill-set for practitioners.
Rick Murphy has nine years of experience as an active duty naval officer in both nuclear engineering and signals intelligence. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and earned a B.S. in Chemistry with a Japanese minor.
His desire to help others took him to Korea for two years as a Korean-speaking missionary and ordained minister for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That same desire recently inspired him to pursue the Doctor of Chiropractic program at Parker University in Dallas, TX in addition to the Apothecary program.
Rick grew up primitive camping in the Sonoran Desert with his family and lived off-grid with his grandparents in south-east Idaho during high school. He brings that background, professional intelligence training, and over a decade of studying Ninjutsu and other martial disciplines to the Scout curriculum.
Lisa Ganora began studying traditional Western herbalism in the ‘80s. Later, she lived and wildcrafted in the Appalachians where she studied with folk healers and created herbal products to sell as she travelled the festival circuit with her herb booth. After practicing as a community herbalist for a decade, Lisa retuned to college and graduated from UNCA summa cum laude with multiple awards in biology and chemistry. After graduation she focused on studying pharmacognosy and phytochemistry.
In addition to directing the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism since 2012 and managing Elderberry’s (a Rocky Mountain herb farm and education center in Paonia, CO), Lisa has also served as Adjunct Professor of Pharmacognosy at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and has lectured and taught classes at numerous schools and conferences around the U.S. She is the author of Herbal Constituents, a popular textbook on herbal phytochemistry for natural health practitioners, which is used by schools and universities worldwide.
Lisa is available for consulting in medicinal plant chemistry, synergy, and formulation for the herbal and natural products industries.
Beth is an herbalist, alchemist, yoga teacher, and photographer doing *all* the things in San Antonio, TX, but born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. What started as a curiosity as a kiddo running around barefoot in the woods, connecting with the Earth and making mud gumbo with local plants has blossomed into a passion for working daily with the magic and medicine of botanicals.
After earning her BA in photography in Louisiana, Beth set out to Texas to pursue and earn her MFA in photography. During her studies, she fell in love with the city having finally found resources for all the studies she ever wanted like energy work and herbalism. Fate brought her to The Human Path a few years ago and she’s been a part of the team since as part of our local Herbal Medics chapter and teaching in our onsite Apothecarist intensives.
Beth incorporates herbal medicine in her life daily as tonics, in ritual and ceremony, gardening therapy and plant friends, and potent medicinal preparations in her growing home apothecary. At the heart of her work with plant medicine is the connection to the natural world and the importance of working in right relationship with plants.
David has a wide variety of skills and interests, which include a range from construction, metalworking, woodworking, photography, cooking, and pretty much anything artsy, craftsy, or tasty.
David’s personal mission to be more self-sufficient and recapture ancestral skills led him to The Human Path, where he quickly became a part of the blacksmith and herbal medicine programs. Following a belief that one learns more through helping or teaching others, you may find David assisting or teaching across a variety of subjects at our school, most notably Blacksmithing and Herbal Medicine, or their related subtopics.
David is also part of a trio of instructors that teach The Apothecarist Program, an herbal medicine making program for intermediate herbalist students.
Jen-Osha has over 20 years of experience as outdoor educator and activist, living in the mountains of West Virginia. She is the Director and Co-founder of the Mountain Stewardship and Outdoor Leadership School, a sister school of the Human Path.
At Mtn SOL, she is the lead instructor for the Medic path and co-instructor for the Scout and Herbalist Programs. She is certified as a Wilderness Herbal First Responder, instructor for Wilderness First Aid and helps lead the West Virginia Chapter of Herbal Medics.
She gratefully learned her woods skills from the wise women of Appalachia and her homesteading experience as a mother in West Virginia.
Adam Allen, DNP, NP-C
Adam currently serves as a Homeless Primary Care Outreach Nurse Practitioner with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and also practices as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to an underserved outpatient population in the Greater New Orleans area. He comes to herbalism mostly to serve his family and local community after realizing that herbalism offers an accessory pathway for addressing health and wellness challenges that have been almost exclusively relegated to allopathy in modern times. His primary herbal joys are making STRONG herbal medicine and growing fresh medicinal herbs. He is especially fond of adaptogens and has a respectful interest in low dose / high potency herbs.
Adam’s most common interests and past times include Filipino Martial Arts, backyard beekeeping, and polishing his public speaking skills with Toastmasters International where he serves as a club officer and past president for his city’s club. He also enjoys making mead, walks through the woods with his canine friend, and has a mild obsession with kettlebells.
Rockie is a community herbalist with a variety of passions and skills around land stewardship, agriculture, education, technology & coalition building. She has enjoyed her time building survival and disaster preparedness skills over the years with The Human Path as well as teaching and sharing with others. Her approach to learning is to understand that it can be both challenging and fun, and as a teacher her goals are to make the activity of learning accessible and to empower others to incorporate play and experimentation in the process.
Rockie is a proud alumni of Soul Fire Farm’s farmer immersion program class of 2017 and is a member of the SFF speakers collective. She presents and speaks on a myriad of topics around food, equity & herbalism.
She is currently the President of the Herbal Medics chapter in San Antonio, co-chair of the food justice work group in San Antonio and founder of Sustainable G’s, a local non-profit focused on everyday sustainability, wellness, food sovereignty and regenerative practices. In addition to this, Rockie considers herself a creative, working with various mediums to tell historical and cultural stories, and has had her art exhibited across Texas and nationally.
Rene Schultz RN, BSN
Apothecarist Manager, Instructor
Rene graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas Tech University and embarked on a 20yr + nursing career, spent mostly in surgical and post-surgical settings. The last 15 years were spent developing and directing 3 hospital-based out-patient clinics in 2 local hospitals. After that, Rene left the hospital system to become the director of an Ambulatory Surgery Center. After being diagnosed with 3 auto-immune diseases in 2012, and receiving no viable answers/options from western medicine, she left that career to find my own answers. This led her to functional medicine, and eventually to herbalism.
Obsessions: Helping others find “the root cause” of any health issue that has thus far gone undetected by doctors they’ve seen. That means solid referrals, constant research and education, and talking about lifestyle, diet, and herbalism to anyone that will listen!
Passions: teaching (anyone- from baby to grown up); growing herbs and medicinal plants; spending time in nature; spending time with her husband of 40 years, her dogs and pasture-raised, organically fed chickens, children and grandchildren; and of course, making medicine (as the current Manager and Lead Apothecarist for Herbal Medics Academy and Herbal First Aid Gear store).
Following an interest in traditional Scandinavian knifemaking, James began making knives by stock removal in early 2001. In 2009, prompted by the desire to make damascus steel, he acquired a small gas furnace and began making hand-forged blades, eventually learning to make damascus from ABS Master Smith Harvey Dean in February 2011. James’ passion as a bladesmith centers around salvaging old, worn, or otherwise discarded pieces of high carbon steel (i.e. automobile leaf and coil springs, bearing races, worn out saw blades and files, broken plowshares, etc…) and giving them new life on the anvil. He specializes in Scandinavian-style bushcraft knives, EDC’s, and hunters.
James has also led our team of off-grid blacksmiths to the jungles of Nicaragua to teach the Rama tribe forging skills for making their own spears, arrows and tools. He teaches a series of blacksmithing and blade-making courses for The Human Path that center around using reclaimed, recycled and found materials, with an emphasis on off grid techniques.
Thomas Bryant is a lifelong gardener who was taught about permaculture and integrated agriculture from his parents long before the term was used in common language. He grew up in the mountains of Idaho where he was taught to forage the mushrooms and berries from the forest, but to always leave some behind to propagate the next season’s harvest.
Thomas has built numerous aquaponics systems, operated a small scale commercial landscape nursery, spent years remediating the pastures at his property and has run a working farm producing both animal and plant products for two decades.
He has studied herbs with the Human Path for years and has completed the Family Health, Emergent Responder, Apothecarist, and is in the final stages of the Clinical program. Thomas has also taught numerous classes with the Human Path and is the Off-grid and Emergency communications instructor.