Hi Steven, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 1997 graduate of the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. A few years after graduation, I moved to Northern New Mexico, where I worked for a few stores: Herbs Etc., Wild Oats, and Pharmaca. I briefly taught botany and Native American Plant Spirit Medicine at Southwest Acupuncture in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

In 2009 I decided I needed a change, but one that still allowed for the spiritual and medical aspects I felt I was craving. I became a Wildland Firefighter. I am now qualified, or am a trainee, in several positions grouped under the heading of Single Resources. These involve Engines, Crews, Saws, Heavy Equipment, Firing operations, certain medical procedures, Logistics, Safety, and now Helicopter Operations. I’ve been carrying vials or bottles of tinctures for years, and utilize herbs from across the country in the field as needed. 

I have become a National Pro Board Certified Structure Firefighter and Instructor as well. I volunteer at home, in Missouri, with a local department where I serve as a Lieutenant.

You’re both a firefighter and an Adjunct Professor at Mineral Area College. What do these positions entail?
My firefighter certifications, both Wildland and Structure, working and volunteering respectively, have given me a niche experience we call the WUI, or Wildland Urban Interface. Over the last two years we’ve expanded the Structural grant program to include Wildland classes, the first of which started during the spring semester this year. The object of these classes is twofold: first, where I live is the second largest WUI in the state. Training all departments in this area is crucial in bridging the gap between the two facets of fire. The second is being able to offer a full curriculum of Fire Science Technology, encompassing both facets of fire, and enabling more job opportunities in a rural, limited professional, and economically depressed area.

Are there any herbal remedies that are especially effective in your firefighting duties?
There are several formulas that continue to be highly effective in field operations:
Kick Ass Biotic
Kick Ass Immune
Deep Lung
Serious Cough

**I’m interested in trying the Muscular-Skeletal but haven’t got there yet.

As a side note, my wife and daughter use the tinctures also, particularly my daughter. Favorites include:
Daily Immune
Kick it Immune
Sweet Echinacea

We noticed that you attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Are you able to find the time to engage in any of the arts?
I’m currently working on our Initial Attack crew’s logo. It’s taking longer than anticipated, but I’m close to finishing. I’m constantly being pulled into various aspects of my work and teaching environments. I do a ton of photography in the field and am finding myself in need of equipment that stands up to the rigors of the work.

My daughter has expressed herself a lot more creativity lately. We color, paint, and create. That’s been a huge rebirth for me when I’m home!!

What is the natural products environment like in Doe Run, Missouri?
Expensive and very limited. There’s one store. I’ve mentioned WishGarden multiple times to them, but with no success in having WGH products carried there. I’m persistent and one day I hope to see it happen!

WishGarden has started an Ambassador Program which you are a part of. How’s the Ambassador work going?
The Ambassador Program has been amazing! The initial box I received I took to the company I currently work for, Chloeta Fire’s Fall Academy, in October 2016. Every product was passed out there. I was called to aid in Hurricane Mathew’s relief during that time, so recently accepted WishGarden Ambassador Matt Hagy (who is our crew EMT) took over the table management. After he was also called to duty, another friend, and recent Chloeta hire, Kyle Albertina, took over. Through text and email, we were able to answer attendees’ questions. He did an outstanding job in representing WishGarden at the Academy.

Most of the crew has had one of several products at one time or another. They literally help us stay healthy and fit for duty.    

Natural products seem to be all the rage these days. Do you think we are witnessing a change in consumer attitudes towards the environment and natural products?
You know, it’s odd — maybe cyclical, really. When I was in school, they called it a renaissance. And I believe for that time it was an explosion. Many students I was in school with went on to create amazing businesses in aromatherapy, cultivation, cosmetics, teas, clinics, etc. I stuck with the Native American aspects and followed in the footsteps of my two Native heritages. I help people, and don’t charge a monetary fee. I can’t, traditionally speaking. I feel free to give people all I can through traditional attributes. I’m a witness and aid to healing — profound healing, even profound death. It’s honoring for me and I feel strength in walking with people on their path. It took a while to understand that it was about them, and not my idea of what healing was supposed to look like. Honoring people’s choices is a huge part of helping them on their path.

What is your favorite herb and why?
Hands down, Arizona Cypress. Catherine Hunziker taught me and guided me with this amazing tree. I’ve used it as a catalyst in formulas, as well as Aromatherapy, smudge in lodges, etc. There’s nothing it doesn’t get into. It’s become a huge aspect of how I approach life, even in how I view “treating” people. In 20 years I’ve learned so much from its song and its teachings. It’s been an amazing teacher.