About Us

Earth Knack Stone Age Skills for the 21st Century

Primitive and modern life skills training: Don’t just survive. Thrive!


Earth Knack has been offering primitive skills courses, wilderness treks, and sustainable modern life skills teaching to people of all ages since 1990. The Earth Knack school site is near Crestone, Colorado, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.



ROBIN BLANKENSHIP owns and operates Earth Knack and has been working in the outdoor field since 1978 when she began leading horse packing trips into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness for Adventure Unlimited Ranches, eventually directing their mountaineering program. She began teaching for Larry Olsen’s School of Urban and Wilderness Survival in 1984, the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound. She holds a B.A. in English Literature, a minor in Spanish from the University of Colorado, Boulder, as well as a B.S. in Education with a Colorado elementary teaching certification. Currently she also “moonlights” as the 4th and 5th grade teacher at the Crestone Charter school, which she helped to establish in 1995. She is the author (and illustrator) of How To Play In The Woods, published in 2016 by Gibbs Smith, Publishers, and co-authored and illustrated Earth Knack Stone Age Skills for the 21st Century, also published by Gibbs Smith in 1996. Robin made a friction fire for Katie Couric on The Today Show, has been featured in publications including Outside Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Denver Post, and appeared on Channel 4 news programs in Denver featuring self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyles. All her Air b-n-b listings on the Earth Knack property are self designed and architected, hand built, homemade, alternative and eco-friendly buildings; methods that she also teaches through her Earth Knack programs.

See our Earth Knack in history page under Earth Knack In The News.



“Cattail” BOB SEEBECK is the author of Survival Plants of Colorado and Best-Tasting Edibles of the Rocky Mountain West. He has been an Earth Knack instructor since 1993. Cattail Bob has been conducting outdoor education classes in the Rockies since 1975, offering instruction in wild useful herbs, wilderness survival, and mountain cabin building. Cattail is a back country guide and former squad boss of the Larimer County, Colorado, search, rescue, and fire crew. Cattail Bob’s excellent wild plant field class was featured on The Today Show during an Earth Knack Family Gathering Program. He currently resides in a self-built solar cabin near Estes Park, Colorado. See our Art-N-Facts page to order a copy of his book. To book a course with “Cattail”: 970 214 1647 cattailbob@hotmail.com




Ranger JEFF WOLIN works for the National Park Service in Florrisant, Colorado, and has worked throughout the Canyon Lands and Arches regions of Utah and the Four Corners. Jeff is a musician, outdoor educator, and primitive skills instructor, and has been an Earth Knack instructor since 2000. Jeff holds a B.A. in Geography from the University of Illinois and a Master’s in Environmental Education from Prescott College. Jeff’s CD, In Your Backyard, won the Children’s Web Fest Award in 2003 and is recommended by the Parent’s Choice Foundation. The National Park Foundation recently published two volumes of Songs For Junior Rangers, a CD set of Jeff’s original songs performed by him with many other nationally known artists. See our Art-N-Facts page to order a copy of his CD In Your Backyard CD or, for either or both volumes of Songs For Junior Rangers, visit www.nps.gov.




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ALYCIA CHAMBERS: midwife, herbalist, homesteader, musician, and cheese maker extraordinaire! Alycia has been involved with Earth Knack since 1998. Currently practicing midwifery locally, Alycia is also teaching music at the local charter school, making CDs, milking a lot of goats, and operating Choke Cherry Farm in Crestone, Colorado. She shares her knowledge and experience teaching at Earth Knack programs and in the local community. Visit her website at www.blessedbemidwifery.com. To order her CD, see our Art-N-Facts page.




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CLARK PATTTON: tracker, wilderness and primitive skills instructor, teen leadership expert, hypnotherapist, and vet tech. Clark has been teaching with Earth Knack since 2006. Over the years, he has worked in collaboration with the Logan School, Colorado Academy, Cottonwood Institute, PAST Skills Wilderness School, School of Urban and Wilderness Survival (SUWS), and the Montana Awareness Education and Equine Rehab Association (MAERA). In 2010, Clark lived in a tipi and completed a three-month Earth Knack Internship for college credit from the Prescott College. He brings the art of sacred inner awareness into our programs; his proficiency with the skills is a vehicle for a much deeper experience. Currently, Clark runs his own hypnotherapy business, Inner Wisdom, in Missoula, Montana. www.InnerWisdomMissoula.com



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BEN HURD has three decades of experience doing historically accurate stone masonry bridge, fort, and cabin restoration around the U.S. He is also an experienced “mule skinner” mule-team driver, and has been working with Amish communities for 40-some years. For the last two years, Ben has been offering classes in stone masonry and horse and mule cart driving for Earth Knack interns. His nationally renowned Ozark Timber Frame business creates trusses and timbers for log building in a horse powered (literally) work shop. Bass Pro contracts Ben’s company to build the enormous Bass Pro Store log lodges. View Ben’s work here: www.ozarktimberframe.com.




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NICK CHAMBERS is a bio-mass energy researcher, collaborating and studying in New Mexico and China, and was also instrumental in the launching of Colorado’s statewide ‘green’ organic food distribution business, Source Local Foods. He is constructing Crestone’s first bio-mass energy generator at Choke Cherry Farm. Nick began his association with Earth Knack at the age of 12, while participating in a Cherry Creek Schools spring break expedition in Canyon Lands National Park. He came to Earth Knack after college for our summer instructor’s course in 1997. He offers excellent classes in primitive pottery, stone tool making, fire making and many other primitive and survival subjects. He lived along the banks of Cottonwood Creek in a tipi for many years.




100_2664KEN WEE: published author, buckskinner (traditional hide tanner), bow-and-arrow maker, primitive technology instructor, historical mountain man rendezvous expert, and painter. Ken has been teaching classes for Earth Knack since 1990, our founding year, sharing passion, extensive knowledge, and know-how in bow-and-arrow and atl atl-making and use, traditional hide tanning, hatchet-throwing, fire-making, and a full gamut of outdoor, survival and primitive skills. Ken holds a Master’s degree in Sculpture from the University of Colorado–Boulder, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture and Painting from Wichita State University (Wichita, Kansas), and B.A. in Pre-Med from WSU, with minors in Biology, Art History, and Chemistry. While at WSU, Ken was also a karate and archery instructor, as well as the track coach for Shocker Striders Track Club. He was honored at the Colorado Muzzle Loading Association’s Winter Convention with the Muzzle Loader of the Year Award. Ken’s research and instructional writing, on a myriad of primitive, survival, hunting, weapons technology, and authentic Native American life skills subjects, has been featured in national and international magazines and journals for many years. He is a frequent contributor to Backwoodsman, Primitive Archer, Wilderness Way, and The Bulletin of Primitive Technology. Ken has lived in a tipi or wall-tent for decades, on the front range of Colorado, and is the “real deal” survival and primitive skills outdoorsman. To book a course with Ken Wee: 303 417 6279 beardedhorse@yahoo.com



KYLE TYREE BLANKENSHIP grew up “in the business” and often helps instruct Earth Knack courses. He has worked as a trail guide, staff trainer and counselor for Wilderness Quest, camp counselor, and paint ball range expert for Mountain Trails Youth Ranch, and spent several years as a commercial and service electrician. He holds a Wilderness First Responder certification through the Wilderness Medical Institute. The picture shows his Mahi Mahi catch in St. Croix, where he helped teach a primitive skills program at Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute called Bushskills (see visfi.org) and help build an outdoor classroom on the VISFI farm for local high school students. Tyree is currently finishing an associate’s degree with an emphasis on film and computer animation at the State College of Florida and moving into mechanical engineering in the coming year.He makes his living as a fine arts painter, doing personal commissions.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALAYTON TEALE BLANKENSHIP holds the fastest posted time for making a hand drill friction fire ember! He has worked as a hunting guide and horse packer for Fish Tail Ranch, a camp counselor and ropes course expert for the Mountain Trails Youth Ranch, and a trail guide for Wilderness Quest. He is Reserve National Guard, having been awarded several top national physical fitness awards, winning first place at the Fort Carson marksmanship competition, recieving receiving several leadership distinctions, and passing the entry test for Ranger training. He has earned an associate’s degree in agricultural business management, has recently returned from deployment in Africa and is currently studying mechanical engineering in Minnesota, where he resides with his wife Avery.. Teale, who grew up “in the business,” instructs Earth Knack classes as well. With his focus and persistence, he helps participants to succeed. He is certified in First Aid and CPR.


Other Instructors: ANNE DRUCKER, Master Herbalist. Ann runs a thriving herbalism and earth-centered shamanic healing practice, with classes and clients, in Boulder, Colorado. At Earth Knack Ann has offered medicinal herb, medicine making and wild edible classes since 1990. Contact Ann at drucker.ann@gmail.com for more information about her program. 

DOUG DAHL, Flintknapping: 303 288 7636 thearrowheadguy@yahoo.com

MIKE FOLTMER buckskin, parfleche, traditional tanning, and rawhide work, and canvas tent and awning: 970 339 5608 mikefoltmer@yahoo.com

SUSAN JEFFAY (Soapy Su!) and DAVE VAN HOOK, Soap, balm and lotion making: 602-620-3370 sujeffay@gmail.com

CHERYL NACHTRIEB, spin, dye, weave. owned the Recycled Lamb in Wheatridge, Colorado. For custom fiber arts courses email cnachtrieb@comcast.net

“Papa” DEAN SMITH, Blacksmith: deansmithphotography@gmail.com

RYAN “Drover” HALL, Blacksmith: 303-746-8338 ryanfarleyhall@gmail.com

RICHARD DART, traditional native life ways.



Ernie Wilkinson



ERNIE WILKINSON – We have had the honor and privilege of Ernie’s mentorship and instruction. His spirit and legacy live on in the thousands of students he has inspired.






High-tech support for our stone-age web page:

MARK PEESEL, BackLeft.com – website manager, designer, and host.Mike Agee, Mister Fargo, our secret mega byte weapons man

MIKE AGEE builds and maintains our office computer systems. Mike is a Microsoft ex-pat who spends time tanning hides for his recovery therapy. Mike aka Stick Boy made our first video program video, which can be viewed from the sidebar of this page.

KYLE TYREE BLANKENSHIP helps with web page design and maintenance assistance.

CHARLIE YOUNG created Robin’s women’s friction fire videos, which can be found here and here.

SCOTT WRIGHT shot the video for the debut of Robin’s song “Men in Skirts” at Rabbit Stick 2013.

SCOTT MCCUMBER and CYNTHIA NIELSON videoed the Earth Knack Family Gathering 2013 which can be viewed here.

JANET HIGHTOWER created the multimedia Oaxaca show on our International Learning page.

CAM BENTON created the “Earth Knack Property Tour” and “Earth Knack Modern Sustainable Home Construction” videos after the 2014 October Hide Tanning Class.

JANET “OM” SNYDER is our resident editorial perfectionist.



At 19, Tyree spent lots of time in the flintknapping pit on the Earth Knack school site.


A 10 year old Tikla loved to catch and fry up fresh trout from Cottonwood Creek, which runs through the Earth Knack school site.

At 16, Teale was the head-navigator on the 2005 Green River Canoe Trip.

Rosalyn makes a hand drill fire.

Kids class on onion skin dyes at Winter Count 2006.


Clark Patton teaches a camouflage class.

Robin shows how to make a deer skin bag.

A happy “ABO” girl!

Robin creates a “no-pattern” buckskin shirt for Peggy Patrick.


Dimitri holds a primitive arrow above his stone and wood “tool kit”.

Primitive living skills for the 21st century