ELIP Program Components
This six-week curriculum in Ecological Literacy is designed to give participants a deeper understanding of natural systems and how to live and work within them. Open to seasoned students, those with work experience in these areas, or those who are just beginning to learn about these topics, the program is led by experienced teachers in the fields of regenerative design, permaculture, biomimicry, biodynamic agriculture, soil and water sciences, natural systems, and habitat study, among others. Critical to the program is significant time spent studying and learning with other students in nature.
Main Areas of Study
- Natural Systems
- Flora & Fauna
- Social Context: Leadership, Economy, Social Structures & Networks
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
The deck of a traditional sailing ship is a uniquely powerful platform for students to learn about the river’s natural wonders and cultural significance. For many, this is the introduction to the Hudson River and environmental education which can forge a connection with nature to last a lifetime. On a three hour sail onboard the sloop Clearwater, students have the opportunity to help raise the sails, navigate the boat, visit learning stations to examine river life, perform water quality tests, and study plankton and other invertebrate life under field magnification.
Hands On Projects
Throughout the program, students will find a mix of classroom and hands on learning opportunities. In addition to specific projects, many of the teachers will use the campus as their classroom as they take students out to observe what they are learning. Designated projects include:
- A hands-on permaculture project with Ben Falk and Ethan Roland
- Tree identification and mapping with Bryan Salladin
- A water-related project with Pete A. Munoz and Barton Kirk
- Reflect on what you’re learning with your classmates around evening bonfires several times throughout the program
- Meet with Skip Backus, Omega’s chief executive officer, each Friday to ask questions and to ground your learning in the example of the Omega campus
- Join a pickup game of basketball, tennis, volleyball, or Ultimate Frisbee
- Network with and get to know classmates and other Omega participants during meals in the Dining Hall or snacks in the Omega Café
- Take a yoga, tai chi, meditation, or movement class with other staff and participants
- Enjoy evening talks, films, performances, or other activities on the schedule of daily events at Omega
- Fly through the air on the trapeze during a daylong workshop with Peter Gold and face your fears while supporting your fellow classmates
- Share a sweatlodge ceremony led by longtime Omega faculty Carl Big Heart to build an environment of trust rooted in mutual vulnerability and a commitment to living in sacred balance
One of Omega’s core values is service. We value the practice of service and what it teaches us about ourselves and our relationship to others. As part of the program, participants work two four-hour shifts each week in support of other participants and the operation of Omega. You may find yourself working in any department at Omega, such as production, housekeeping, Dining Hall, or Omega FoodWorks where you might prepare food for other participants and staff. No training is required, and you will work alongside full-time Omega staff. Omega is a nonprofit educational organization deeply rooted in service for the greater good. Your time spent in service, working in the Omega community, is an important foundation to the learning experience of this program.
Reflection & Contemplative Practice
An important part of the ELIP program is time spent in contemplation. Contemplative practices are practical and transformative and help develop concentration, empathy, creativity, communication, attention, and compassion. The calm centeredness generated by time in reflection is helpful when exploring larger concepts like meaning, purpose, and values—ideas we look at deeply in this program. You have the opportunity to take daily classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation, and movement. Journaling is encouraged throughout the course. There are also hiking trails and boats to take out on the lake if time in nature is how you get centered. Whichever practice you choose, it will help balance your full days of study and enhance your learning process.