Now the coordinator of the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering, Fuz Sanderson’s journey into the natural world started as a small child, when as a boy wandering the suburbs of central North Carolina, he was constantly searching out new places to explore.
Fuz has always been a nature boy, and as a child he found the greatest peace and intrigue with the outdoors. “There was an ah-ha moment,” Fuz remembers, “while by myself outdoors as a kid, when I first became aware of my own awareness. Nature did that.”
Fuz first came to the earthskills movement in 1995 when he began teaching primitive skills and nature awareness at The Green River Preserve in Cedar Mountain, NC. But long before that, as far back as 1988, he taught subjects pertaining to nature at a 4H afterschool program. He loved teaching in these areas because it didn’t feel so much like work but more like sharing something he was already excited about learning. Snow Bear, a co-founder of Earthskills Rendezvous, invited him to be a work trader at one of their events, and Fuz fell in love with the skills and people right away. He felt he had found his people!
Fuz’s guidance has come from multiple teachers (Mike Matthews and Snow Bear, specifically), professors, and from Nature herself. Birds, especially, influenced his view of the world. Working at summer camps has also played a big part in showing him the ways of the natural world.
Fuz’s training comes from various avenues. His Fisheries and Wildlife Science degree gives him a solid background in ecology. He spent years training at camp and expedition programs and then became a wildlife biologist working in the field. He was also a Wilderness First Responder and worked in leadership development. As well, his own personal time in nature contributes much to his current teaching and outlook.
When asked what the Firefly Gathering means to Fuz, he answered, “All the earthskills gatherings have their own vibe, and they change over time. Firefly, in particular, has the opportunity to reach a large audience. Having directed gatherings, it’s nice to be just a teacher. I’m enjoying becoming one of the more ‘mature’ instructors and assisting with the Ancestor Fire.” When Fuz was the coordinator for the Rendezvous Earthskills Gatherings, he served as an adviser and consultant to Natalie Bogwalker as she and Kaleb Wallace were conceptualizing and creating the first Firefly Gathering.
Fuz believes that the single most important thing we can do to make the world a better place is to show love and to develop an interconnectedness with Earth and with each other. “Spending time in nature has so many benefits for us on a mental, physical and spiritual level.”
Fuz sees the earthskills movement as a place where people come together in order to make the world a better place. It’s a positive, empowering experience. He desires for all the gatherings to build each other up, rather than viewing each other as the competition. No matter which gathering a person chooses, it’s for the benefit of the movement and the individual as a whole. We ask, why choose one? Check out all the East Coast gatherings and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did! And be sure to catch Fuz being a beak geek, beating on a drum or crafting a beautiful bamboo didgeridoo at an earthskills gathering near you!