Reconnect with your wild side!
A wildcrafting apprenticeship with Will is an amazing opportunity to build a deep connection with the healing herbs. You will gain hands-on experience helping Will produce his 70+ herbal products, including but not limited to gathering and processing herbs, making fluid extracts, bottling, packing orders, and selling herbs to the public. Please note that Will’s particular expertise is in truly ethical wildcrafting, not growing herbs.
“My goal for students in the apprenticeship program is for everyone to build a solid herbal foundation, to get a good grasp on what these healing plants look like, and to learn how to use and connect with them. “-Will
In the past 30 years, Will has had over 490 apprentices, most of whom have spent two years as apprentices. The apprenticeship program is very different from Will’s classes and workshops because of the closeness and trust that evolves between Will and his apprentices. As a result of the time invested in this program, many apprenticeships have developed into personal friendships. The Wills Wild Herbs apprenticeship program is essential to Will's business and is one of the most satisfying things he has done in his 42 years as an herbalist.
Wildcrafting with Will
Will and the apprentices meet 8am-5pm on Fridays, year-round (though not every Friday; see detailed guidelines below for more information), including a one-hour lunch break taken together. Out of the 8 working hours, 20 percent is pure teaching. Teaching time is tailored to the individual’s interests, and/or what Will believes the individual needs to learn.
Every week is unique. Sometimes tasks are repeated, but there is always a balance of activities. An apprentice needs to be flexible, and willing to do various jobs according to the plants, the weather, and the business' needs. This program often requires menial, monotonous work, and is sometimes strenuous, or vigorous, but it is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. We do not say this to scare you away; rather to give you a realistic expectation of what this career is like. Moreover, it is through such laborous work that an individual begins to develop a relationship with the herbs.
Some circumstances, or projects, may prevent or shorten teaching time. If this is the case, the missed teaching time will be made up, generally within the month. Herb gathering work counts as teaching time.
The remainder of the time will be spent cleaning, rubbing, sifting, grinding, extracting, bottling, drying, packing bags, and orders, and inventorying the 70+ herbs that Will’s Wild Herbs produces. Most people, including Will, enjoy gathering herbs most of all, but gathering only accounts for 20-25% of the work that needs to be put into fully processing the herbs.
Most similarly experienced herbalists around the country charge a great deal of money for such an apprenticeship, but Will believes deeply in the oral tradition — which is a very fragile one — and recognizes it is primarily the apprentices who carry on the practice of herbalism for future generations. To make his knowledge as widely available as possible, Will has never charged for this program* but expects all apprentices to work seriously in trade for the knowledge gained. Normal job ethics apply.
* Please note that there is a one-time nonrefundable application fee for all new applicants to the apprenticeship program which helps to cover training and the cost of the trial period, which is first month of apprenticeship. Once this fee and the requisite trial month have been met, and both Will and the apprenticeship applicant have fully committed to a minimum of 52 weeks of apprenticeship, no further payments need be made to Will to continue participation in the apprenticeship program.
Steps to be completed in order:
1. Read apprenticeship guidelines and whole website, including testimonials and press; watch all videos and listen to the podcast and radio resources.
2. Call Will at 919-451-6643, so you can ask each other questions.
3. Attend a minimum of one class, so you know what we're about.
4. Write, or email Will a letter telling him why you want to be an apprentice, and what you intend to do with the knowledge, and the experience you will gain.
Include 3 references with telephone numbers, so that he may call them, and a signed copy of the apprenticeship guidelines document.
5. Begin! The apprenticeship has always been an opportunity that does not cost money. However, there is a one-month pre-paid trial period before you and Will both fully commit. To begin the trial period, apprentices must pay Will $274 in advance. Once you and Will have both committed, and the 1 month trial period is over, the apprenticeship will continue on a work-for-knowledge basis, with no further money changing hands.