8 Shields

The 8 Shields is a global movement worldwide that utilizes a finely tuned, tried and true mentoring model that has proven to create healthy and vibrant natural leaders, and nature-based intergenerational mentoring communities around the world. Thank you for your support in helping to hand down a legacy of health, well-being, and harmony with the natural world and each other to future generations.

Our north star is to re-awaken these attributes in people, and in turn, help heal the widespread disconnection with nature and loss of connective culture worldwide.

Our Story

Over the past 30 years, 8 Shields has developed training pathways that support mentors and leaders to change individual lives, and entire communities, in becoming more connected. This model incorporates traditional mentoring and deep nature connection practices, fully supported through our neurological, emotional, and physical connection to the natural world.

The 8 Shields alumni network has over 300 programs worldwide that have been inspired by our model for creating a culture that connects one to self, nature and others – igniting a deep desire to care for our planet, each other and to share one’s gifts.

Jon Young – Founder, Speaker, Author

Jon Young is a nature connection mentor, naturalist, wildlife tracker, peacemaker, author, workshop leader, consultant, sought after public speaker and storyteller. As a leader in the field of nature-based community building over 30 years, Jon’s research into the impact and significance of nature on human intelligence and development has influenced tens of thousands of people worldwide.

Trained from an early age by renowned animal tracker Tom Brown Jr. , and later by Lakota elder Gilbert Walking Bull and many other indigenous leaders from around the world, Jon has delved deeply into the arts of nature awareness, holistic tracking, bird language and ancestral living skills– fundamental knowledge that shaped the formation of human neurobiology and the way our species connects and learns. He has appeared as an expert in numerous documentaries concerning nature and ecology and travels to teach widely throughout North America, Europe, Australia and southern Africa.

Jon has authored and co-authored several seminal works on nature connection and connection mentoring, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013), and Coyote’s Guide to Connecting to Nature (2007). In 2016, he received the Champion of Environmental Education Award for his innovative work, which has inspired positive developments in the field, and fostered the growth of the nature connection movement on a global level.

As co-founder of the 8 Shields Institute and OWLink Media, Jon has established an international network of consultants and trainers working to cultivate effective nature connection mentoring programs in communities and organizations. As the originator of the 8 Shields model, a best-practices process for nature connection mentoring, Jon has implemented vital advancements in the regeneration of nature-based cultural knowledge for the benefit of current and future generations.


Nature Connection Pathway

Learn core routines you can do anywhere to connect with the natural world and access your unique genius.

Awakening the Senses
Online Course

Experience guided daily sensory practices in this engag 6 week online training. Jon Young & Josh Lane share proven techniques for more presence and connection with nature. Learn More…

Backyard Bird Language Online Course

Birds are sentinels of the forest. their calls spread warning of people, hidden animals, and hawks on the wing. Learn ​to read nature’s “secret” language in this 6 week go-at-your-own pace training with Jon Young & Josh Lane. ​​Learn More…

Embodying Nature Online Course

Deep nature connection, bird language, and holistic tracking are core routines that empower your connection with the earth. Hear inspiring stories and get an overview and introduction to these arts in this series recorded from 3 live trainings. Learn More…

Kamana Naturalist Training

Revolving around the sit spot practice, this depth training guides you in naturalist skills blended with traditional wisdom practices. Your understanding of nature will reach a new level through this go-at-your-own pace training. Learn More.