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Philosophy Walk: Foraging & Ethics

July 22, 2023 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT

Walk Details

Organic in structure with time for exploration, discussion, and reflection, this walk is an opportunity to get acquainted with local flora, our relationships therein, and to consider ways in which we might integrate foraging into our daily lives and communities.
Taking our cues from the plants and landscapes around us we’ll meander together and dive into the fun world of plant identification, talk about the various uses and values of the flora we come across, the kinds of relationships and conversations we can have with our landscapes (mystical, spiritual, scientific, philosophical), and along the way explore things like accessibility, resiliency, diversity/adversity, whether or not it makes sense to make hard lines between plants vs. weeds, foraging ethics, and more.
The walk will take place on Saturday, July 22nd at Merlin Nature Preserve from 9am-12noon. Due to nature preserve logistics, this walk is limited to 15 people. Registration is required. Foraged snack, tea, and goodies provided. FREE. $10 suggested donation.
Learn more about our walk guides Sydney Morical, Cathryn Raan, Shane Sater & Sam Maynard below.
[This walk was inspired by Sam Maynard and some of the great work she’s been doing here in the Helena community.]

When & Where

This walk will take place on Saturday, July 22nd on Merlin Nature Preserve. Due to nature preserve logistics registration is required.  Limited to 15 people.

Walk Details

Date: Saturday, July 22nd
Time: 9am – 12pm MT (Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to start time)
Trail Location: Merlin Nature Preserve (See Directions & Info Below)


Registration Info

RSVP: Register here!
Cost: FREE (Suggested Donation $10)
Other:  Foraged snack, tea, and goodies provided
Bring:  Comfortable walking shoes & water

Merlin Nature Preserve is located just outside of Helena near Marysville.  Our group will meet in the old Silver City Saloon parking lot located at 6042 Lincoln Rd. and then caravan/carpool a short distance to the preserve from there. To reach the Silver City Saloon parking lot from Helena, take either the 15, N. Montana Ave. or Green Meadow Drive to Lincoln Rd.  Turn left onto Lincoln Road & head west (toward Marysville/Canyon Creek).  Drive roughly 6.5 miles.  Silver City Saloon will be on your right hand side.  Click here for google maps directions. Please try to arrive 15 minutes before hike/walk start time so that we can all get settled and ready to caravan up to the preserve.  For more information about the meandering, please contact Marisa at #406-439-5788 or e-mail [email protected]. 

Walk Guides

Sydney Morical and Cathryn Raan are both passionate and longtime gatherers of wild food and medicine. They’ve served on the Board of Directors for the Western Montana Mycological Association for the last four years, planning events, teaching a wide variety of mushroom classes and keeping the fungal community engaged and connected. They both have experience in herbal medicine and agriculture (they will teach you about all the wonderful “weeds” around town), and a deep love of this land and all the plants living in their midst. They are humbled and delighted to be two of many on a long strand of plant-loving humans sharing their experience and knowledge with others.

Shane Sater is a scientist with a passion for the landscape. He’s done field botany and biology work for the Smithsonian Institute, the Montana Natural Heritage Program, and the US Forest Service. In 2022 he finished his BA in Environmental Science at Carroll College (Helena, MT, USA). His thesis was a guide to some of our local insect diversity. Since 2017 Shane has led volunteer bird monitoring on a local stream restoration site. Every summer he does a Breeding Bird Survey route near Big Sandy, MT. Over the next few years, he has dedicated himself to continuing his studies of the local flora and fauna, particularly the insects. His writing focuses on the landscape where he lives: currently, Helena and Missoula, MT, within the traditional territories of the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai tribes. His approach is one that honors living and learning on and from this landscape, which has a rich cultural history extending back for millennia.  You can view Shane’s recent work on his “Wild With Nature” website.

Sam Maynard is a peer support specialist for Many Rivers Whole Health, and also volunteers at St. Paul’s Methodist Church as a community recourse coordinator.

In her positions at Many Rivers and St. Paul’s she works as an advocate for individuals who are working their way out of homelessness, and working toward recovery from addiction and mental health struggles. “Peer support specialist” is a rather new employment title, and not everybody is aware of what it is that peer support specialists do. To this end, Sam plays a role that allows the broken healer to help heal the broken.  According to Sam:

“I am privileged enough to have overcome my traumas and past lived experiences and can now help my peers also overcome those same issues in life.  I have ADHD, anxiety, depression and had three previous suicide attempts. I’ve also lived with pretty constant food and housing insecurity throughout my entire life. I have had to learn a wealth of knowledge on how to navigate the services around me for survival. I’ve learned how to gain access to public housing, food resources, mental health services, how to forage for food off the land in the most desperate times and so much more!”

Sam believes everything needs to be a give and take relationship and nothing should ever be taken for granted; not even hardships and struggles.   


In addition to her work as a peer support specialist, Sam has been working on numerous community projects.  One such project concerns creating a community garden at Many Rivers Whole Health, where clients can have access to fresh vegetables, learn skills to be more self-sufficient, and create better relationships by working together on larger garden projects that take teamwork.

She has also led nature walks centered around teaching people the value of common plants that grow in most back yards, learning together how to utilize them in making materials for food and for medicinal purposes.

Sam is currently in discussions with kitchen staff at Carroll College who are also interested in developing a community garden there, where the kitchen staff and students would be in a joint relationship providing food scraps for compost and learning how to regrow food from food waste. Students would also be able to get involved in helping tend to the garden.

Register Here

You will receive a confirmation of your RSVP shortly after you register via e-mail.  As the walk date approaches, we will contact you with any additional relevant information.  If you do NOT receive an e-mail shortly after registering, please contact [email protected].

For those who have not been on our walks before, you can get a feel for our walks and what they’re all about by visiting our walk archive page.  In the meantime, here is a logistical snapshot.

Here is  a general overview of what you can expect on our Philosophy Walks:

  • Free to the Public (donations welcome/appreciated)
  • 3 hour walks (opportunities for rest along the way)
  • Casual, positive & supportive experience
  • 1-2 walk guides
  • Small group sizes (generally 7-15 people; may be larger for special occasion walks)
  • Ample opportunity to enjoy nature

To get the most out of your experience with us and enjoy a healthy & safe walk, please bring with you on the day of the walk/hike:

  • Water & Snack
  • Weather appropriate attire & sun protection
  • A walking stick/Trekking poles
  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy walks are free to the community.  While donations are never expected, they are always appreciated and help to keep programs like these going. Your tax-deductible donations help to cover honorariums, logistics, materials, implementation, resource archiving, and more! For those facing more challenging financial circumstances, we ask that you please try to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness for your neighbors and community.  If you’d like to make a donation you can do so here (or the button above) anytime or in person on the day of the walk.


Merlin Nature Preserve
6042 Lincoln Road West
Helena, MT 59635 United States
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Marisa Diaz-Waian
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