The Resiliency Institute is an educational nonprofit focused on inspiring others to integrate permaculture into their lives. We are dedicated to offering classes, workshops, field trips, and demonstrations taught by knowledgeable and experienced instructors. Our faculty bring a diverse range of skills and knowledge into each class.
Founder, Prairie Sun Consultants
Patricia Armstrong has a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago in Ecology (Biology-Botany). She previously taught multitudes of nature classes at the Morton Arboretum for 16 years, plus Botany, Ecology, and Geology at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and Michigan State University's Juneau Icefield Research Program in Alaska.
Pat's knowledge and understanding of all things wild and free comes from a life-long personal and intimate relationship with Nature that is passionate as well as scientific. She lives in a home she and her husband designed and built to fit into the natural ecosystems of northern Illinois. It is active and passive solar, energy-efficient, and landscaped with over 300 species of native trees, shrubs, prairie grasses and wildflowers approximately 40% of which are edible. Pat is actively involved in living joyfully with Nature. She runs a consulting firm, PRAIRIE SUN CONSULTANTS, to educate and assist others in appreciating and using native plants and wild edible plants in home landscaping.
Founder, Sheltering Hills Design
Rhonda is a permaculture educator and designer; homeschooling mama; and community organizer. She and her family are nestled in Bloomington, Indiana. Rhonda is a seventh generation Hoosier, with deep ties to the forested hills and rivers of southern Indiana. Though permaculture practice began formally for her in 2005, she grew up in a working-class family that had multiple gardens-incorporating fruits, shrubs, and animals into the patterns and rhythms of those sites. Her family also preserved seed, propagated young fruits, foraged on nearby public lands, and was active in forestry. In 2005, Rhonda “stumbled” into a Permaculture Design Course with Peter Bane and Keith Johnson and never looked back. She began apprenticing as a teacher and after the first year, began working as a designer and offering independent workshops as well as coordinating the Bloomington Permaculture Guild. In 2008, she began working with The Permaculture Activist. In 2010, Rhonda joined the board of the Association for Regenerative Culture.
Publisher, Permaculture Activist
Peter has published Permaculture Activist magazine for over 20 years and has taught permaculture design widely in the temperate and tropical Americas. He is a native of the Illinois prairie whose interest in good food and simple living led him at mid-life to become a writer and teacher of permaculture design. He was also drawn into the arcane world of intentional community as fate presented the opportunity to help create and build Earthaven Ecovillage in the southern Appalachian Mountains. There he discovered his inner architect in the course of building a small off-grid solar cabin and later took on the more prosaic job of rehabilitating a pair of suburban ranch houses in the Midwestern college town of Bloomington, Indiana. That was the first step toward creating a small suburban farmstead where he now lives with his partner and apprentices. A prolific writer in journals and collections on forestry, building and all things sustainable, he consults with universities and municipal governments as well as for private landowners.
Director/Instructor, The Driftless Folk School
Steve Carrow is a retired engineer and has been an avid gardener his entire life with a passion for nature, sustainability and permaculture as well as sharing the gift of his knowledge with others. Steve currently resides in Viroqua, Wisconsin on a 44 acre farm he and his wife are transitioning into a permaculture paradise complete with swales to serve the 5000 hazelnut bushes, 600 chestnut trees, hundreds of oak, maples and pines, an orchard, large garden and chickens. With all of this abundance, food preservation has become a necessary skill. He has a long history of volunteering his time for many causes which have included The Green Earth Institute in Naperville, Outing Leader for the River Prairie Group chapter of the Sierra Club and the West Chicago Prairie Stewardship Group. His current passion for volunteering and building a better world is being met through serving as a Board Member and course instructor for the Driftless Folk School in Viroqua, Wisconsin.
Amy Coffman Phillips is a mother, biomimic, architect, MBA, and facilitator who serves as one of nature's ambassadors to the human built environment. She bridges her love of nature and the creative process to create and facilitate engaging (nature-based) projects, from immersive education to built environment consulting. She is skilled at visual and verbal communication of complex ideas and has the unique ability to hold a strategic vision of a holistic system while managing the implementation process of multi-dimensional projects. To create future collaborators and change agents, Amy leads workshops, holds lectures, and offers biomimicry consulting services for clients looking to learn from nature to inspire sustainable, restorative human environments. Amy's particular expertise is increasing resilience in human systems and has co-created a "Naturally Resilient" workshop for business and non-profit leaders. Amy is also a co-founder of Biomimicry Chicago, a local resource for those looking to learn from nature to design sustainably and restoratively. Through this local node of the Global Biomimicry Network, she created The Prairie Project (an AskPlace initiative) advancing locally-attuned environmental performance standards for the built environment. Amy is a Certified Biomimicry Professional, Illinois licensed architect, MBA, and LEED AP BD+C. She will measure her success by raising great kids and inspiring others to (re)connect with the natural world by learning from Nature's genius.
Aaron started cultivating mushrooms in 2012. Collecting wild mushrooms had long been a hobby of his and when he learned that cultivating fungi on logs was possible he couldn't wait to give it a try. He grows two species and multiple varieties of Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms including a wild native Oyster that he has propagated. He currently resides with his family in Viroqua, WI in the heart of the “Driftless” region where they moved to enjoy the robust organic food movement centered there as well as for the support of alternative education and medicine. He works as a carpenter, keeps honey bees, grows a small garden and several perennial fruits, and of course grows mushrooms. His father Dennis lives in Naperville and Aaron enjoys visiting the big city whenever he can.
Emergency Preparedness, Photography and Homesteading Enthusiast
Gary Davis has been involved with emergency preparedness topics for the better part of a decade with his initial interest coming from a friend and first responder's personal account of working down in Katrina's aftermath.
In one of his roles at his day job he functions as the Safety Officer ensuring all employees are aware of the safety plan, evacuation procedures, medical response and sheltering events. He is also works with the Warrenville Emergency Management Agency, fulfilling the Safety Officer role, training for a variety of disasters and emergencies. He has been through the CERT program and holds AHA First Aid and CPR/AED certifications along with a Wild Edibles Certificate. In his day to day he also practices Emergency Preparedness by having developed multiple medical kits and emergency bags, practicing gardening and foraging, soap making and other homesteading activities and is always on the lookout for new skills to acquire.
Marie Herman is a cooking and homesteading enthusiast who loves to share what she has learned. She has a beautiful organic herb and vegetable garden that inspires her to capture the bounty through all forms of preserving. She has a passion for maintaining the "lost arts" and enjoys discovering how things used to be done and how they can still be done more sustainably. Marie shares her house with her husband of 25 years (who loves to bribe her with kitchen gadgets) and three cats.
Keith was raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (where he learned at an early age he was related to Johnny Appleseed), and has been a commercial landscaper, stonemason, and organic gardener since 1976 in places as varied as subtropical Bay Area of California, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Michigan, & the mountains of W. North Carolina. After devouring Permaculture One in 1978 he continued to learn all he could on the subject. He’s been teaching Permaculture since ’95, has instructed more than 1200 students, many of those through Indiana University’s annual Design Course which began in 2003. He’s taught or trained with Bill Mollison, Larry Santoyo, Tom Ward, Penny Livingston, Peter Bane, Chuck Marsh, Andrew Goodheart Brown, Albert Bates, Starhawk, and Jerome Osentowski and others. Now resident in Bloomington, IN, Keith participates in a number of local activism projects including the editorial guild of the Permaculture Activist, the founding of Transition Bloomington (Indiana’s first Transition Town Initiative), past board member of the Local Growers Guild, contributor to Bloomington’s Peak Oil Task Force, member of the Bloomington Permaculture Guild, member of the Bloomington Food Policy Council and the Trillium Horticultural Park Project. Renaissance Polyculture is the suburban forest garden he co-manages on the 2/3 acre site where he homesteads with Peter Bane and a regular flow of interns. A frequent public speaker and radio interviewee, he works constantly to share a vision of cultural and ecological regeneration and continues to provide ecological design and consultation services via Patterns for Abundance. Keith blogs at: Permaculture & Regenerative Design News | Transition Indiana | Permaculture Politics | Bloomington Permaculture Guild
Heather Love- Nelson
Herbalist, Forager, Homesteader
Heather Nelson is an herbalist, with special interests in nutrition and the ethical wild foraging of edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms. She is also an avid organic gardener, and employs various methods of preservation including canning, pickling, dehydration, and lacto-fermentation. She also enjoys using the fermentation process in making her own cheeses, wines, and beers. She loves inspiring others to learn to appreciate nature’s beauties and bounties, while teaching them about their holistic nutritional options. She is a graduate of Heart of Herbs School with a Master Herbalist Certification, has completed the Wild Edibles Certification through the Resiliency Institute, has completed numerous online study courses, is currently working on her Aromatherapy Certifications and is enrolled in the East West School of Planetary Herbology Professional Herbalist Program.
Herbalism and Nutrition Enthusiast
Sarah received a degree from the University of Florida in Public Relations, and worked in the financial industry for more than a decade. During these year’s, both her own and her family’s health journeys offered opportunities and the necessity to search for answers that nourished wholeness. In 2010 Sarah moved to Illinois where her deep hands-on journey with plants truly began. After reading Matthew Woods’ “Book of Herbal Wisdom,” she was inspired to seek working and learning opportunities with prominent Western herbalists. She has traveled to and studied at numerous herbal conferences around the country. In 2014, Sarah worked as an apprentice-elect under her teacher and continued mentor, world renowned herbalist and author Susun Weed. Sarah earned a certificate in Bio-Regional herbalism in 2015 through The Resiliency Institute, and has attended several weekend workshops with herbalists Margi Flint, Matthew Wood and others. In addition to co-creating educational programming about plants for The Resiliency Institute for which she leads educational herbal plant walks, Sarah enjoys consulting with pet owners at the natural pet store where she is employed in Libertyville to help improve their pet’s health through nutrition. She is deeply committed to sharing her enthusiasm for plants and what they have to share!
Dr. Fredric Miller is professor of horticulture in the Department of Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences at Joliet Junior College, a Senior Research Scientist – Entomology at The Morton Arboretum, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana where he is an instructor and faculty student advisor for the off-campus Master of Science horticulture graduate degree program. He is currently also an Illinois Forest Health Specialist with the Illinois Department Natural Resources (IDNR) and USDA-USFS North Central Regional Office and is a Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA). Dr. Miller is the author or co-author of over 30 peer-reviewed publications and over 100 popular and technical articles in regional and national publications.
Homesteader, Blogger, Owner at MamaGrows
Jill Niewoehner of MamaGrows left the work force to raise children, chickens, and veggies in her small backyard in South Oak Park, IL. She is an avid cheese maker, soap maker, mushroom grower, and Master Gardener. Her love of cheese making led her to making goat’s milk soap with some leftover milk. From that moment she became HOOKED on the craft of artisan soap making. All of her soaps are handmade in small batches. She uses mostly natural colorants such as paprika, cocoa powder, alkanet root, turmeric and teas. All of her scented soaps use high quality essential oils. Her products are currently for sale at The Sugar Beet Coop in Oak Park.
Owner, Professional Forager, Odd Produce
Ellyn is an avid student of nature, particularly edible and medicinal plants, and the philosophy of living close to the earth. She helps others discover and deepen their connection to the healing power of plants and nature.
Ellyn has studied extensively for over 20 years with Tom Brown Jr., a world-renowned tracker and wilderness survival expert who was taught the ancient arts of living close to the earth by a Lipan Apache medicine man. She is a member of the Keepers of the Plant Wisdom Medicine Society and has served on the board of directors for Medicine Waters Conservancy since 2001.
Ellyn holds certificates from the Resiliency Institute in Edible Wild Plants and Bioregional Herbalism. She continuously studies with numerous edible and medicinal plant experts and actively participates in United Plant Savers herbal conferences.
Yoga Instructor & Mindfulness Coach
Lisa Sparagna has been practicing meditation and yoga for over fifteen years. Her daily meditation practice brings her more awareness, calm and clarity and she is passionate about sharing this with others. She uses meditation and mindfulness to lead people back to the quiet of their own inner wisdom.
Lisa received her 200-hour yoga training certificate from the White Lotus Foundation and her 500-hour advanced yoga training certificate from Prairie Yoga. Previously, she earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, she is earning her certificate as a women’s retreat facilitator from The Sedona Women’s Institute.
Natural Resources Manager, Argonne National Laboratory