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For over 40 years, Jon Young has been a leader in the field of nature-based education, implementing vital advancements in the understanding and benefits of effective nature connection modeling. Jon is a deep nature connection mentor, wildlife tracker, peacemaker, author, workshop leader, consultant, inspiring public speaker and storyteller.


Jon and his dear friend Xhota enjoying time together in the Central Kalahari. 

Jon Young 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. He has authored and co-authored several seminal works on deep 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. Jon appeared as a presenter at Notre Dame University’s Center for Social Concerns Sustainable Wisdom Conference (2016) and contributed a chapter to the text from the proceedings entitled Indigenous Sustainable Wisdom: First-Nation Know-How for Global Flourishing (2019). 


As the creator and architect of the 512 Map, Jon Young has established a best-practices process for nature connection mentoring and cultural revitalization. He is a leader in an international network of consultants and trainers working to cultivate effective nature- and people-connection mentoring programs in communities and organizations, and is dedicated to aiding and promoting nature-based cultural regeneration for the benefit of current and future generations. Jon is currently part of a global design team founding an innovative enterprise to scale self-, people-, and nature-connection modeling through a collaboration of digital platforms, media, a global network of practitioners and a team including original San Bushman cultural elders.

Jon's most recent project is located at the Living Connection 1st Village




Kamana Naturalist Training Program

Beginning in 1983, first published iteration 1994. Master naturalist and deep nature connection learning pathway to support motivated independent studies to build a foundation in natural history knowledge, experience and sensory integration. Graduates world-wide contribute to leadership of nature connection mentoring communities. (Pre-requisite for Shikari Tracker Training Program). Currently undergoing revision & integration into the Natural Mind Journey based on the 512 Map at Living Connection 1st Village

Shikari Tracker Training Program

First draft program 1983, first published 1996. Advanced master training course, independent studies, designed for motivated learners to advance in the many pathways and skills associated with holistic tracking, modeled on the mentoring Jon & Ingwe received from indigenous trackers in Africa and North America, supported further by Jon's research, 1979 to present. This program is also currently undergoing revision & integration into the Natural Mind Journey based on the 512 Map at Living Connection 1st Village

Shikari Tracking Guild

Apprenticeship / mentoring, 1997 to present, providing mentoring support, field experience and networking for members of the Shikari Tracking experience. This guild currently resides as part of the Living Connection 1st Village

North American Master Shikari Sequence

CyberTracker sequence to mentor wildlife trackers

Early draft starting 1999, prototype for database for 8 Shields research & development

Art of Mentoring & Village Building

From 1983 through present in continuous iterative design. First adult trainings 1992, first public offering 1995 (continuing) to present, expanding to global community leadership training, U.S., Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, U.K., Ireland, Poland, Sweden, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Botswana with other countries developing projects. These learning and training pathways are currently undergoing revision & integration into the Natural Mind Journey based on the 512 Map at Living Connection 1st Village

Bird Language Leaders network

Based on Art of Mentoring and first piloted as training in 1992, brought forward in 2013 in support of bird conservation organizations and 8 Shields community leaders. Training model to support nature connection in collaboration with conservationists & nature connection mentors.  

Research & Development of Scaling Model

From 2007 to 2019, working with a number of consultants intensively to research the trends, challenges and positive effects of the 8 Shields model through the global network and related movements. Research included organizational design, branding, marketing, product & service development, strategy, potential collaborations, interfacing with technology and media, international law, finance and quality assurance strategies. 

1978 - 1983

Cook College, Rutgers University

Environmental Science (Natural History & Anthropology)

1983 - 1998  Co-founder, Trainer & Design Leader

Wilderness Awareness School 

First project, today in Duvall, Washington, USA

1983 - present

Practical Research 

Applied connection mentoring & modeling, multiple initiatory experiences and relationships with several traditional lineage holders and elders from North America, Africa, Europe and elsewhere. Support of Tom Brown's Tracker School and Children of the Earth Foundation throughout this time. 

2000 - 2017

Founder of OWLink Media (now 8 Shields Media)

Supporting publishing of books, e-books, on-line courses, audio and video media related to the work of 8 Shields.

2011 - present

Founder of 512 Natural Pathways LLC to support mentoring technology

In research, development and seed phase (2020)

2011 - present

The Origins Project

Collaboration with San Bushman community to advance development of scalable mentoring and connection modeling globally. 

2012 - present

Advisor to founding of

Nature Connection Mentoring Foundation &

8 Shields Institute

Educational outreach and fundraising to support original cultures and practitioners world-wide

2016 - present

Founder of Project 512

Support of database, media and app development. First 64 units filmed with audiences. First 50 consumable videos prepared for viewing. In research, development and seed phase (2020)

2017 - present

Founder of the Living Connection 1st Village

Membership platform to support iteration of products & services, and mentoring support for practitioners network. The 512 Project is also coming to its final production stages. 


Founder of the Voices of the Earth Trust

A trust dedicated to the beneficiaries of deep nature connected people who can bring these teachings and pathways to the Future Generations. 

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