Workshops & Keynotes

Using the 8 INSTRUCTIONS OF NATURE as the core of Full Ecology, Mary M Clare and Gary Ferguson create customized workshops, keynotes and retreats for organizations, community groups, businesses, schools, and universities. Their end goal is always tangible, sustainable change, whether personally, relationally or organizationally.

Full Ecology reminds us that the lessons of nature are the lessons of our (human) nature. Gary & Mary teach and inspire as they show how these lessons can create healthy organizations, healthy relationships, and a healthy earth.

Please scroll down this page for sample presentations.

“Humans are conflict avoidant, which is ironic because that automatically puts you in conflict.”
~Mary M Clare



In the midst of these too-busy times, overwhelmed by distractions, patience and mental focus are hard to find. Even for difficult challenges like illness and loss. Nature can help. The natural world is a reliable and powerful source of nourishment for our toughest journeys. For example, just being outdoors reduces stress hormones in the brain even as we breathe in airborne chemicals released by trees that strengthen the heart and immune system. What’s more, nature offers brilliant prompts and clues to the psyche, helping us better navigate the difficult transitions of our lives (see Gary’s books, Shouting at the Sky and The Carry Home).


We live and work at the cutting edge of time: the present moment. So it is with all of nature – every action, every movement arising from vast, highly dynamic webs of connection. Networks of sharing. Even the trees of the forest are connected to each other by means of vast underground fungal networks. They talk. Through this web a mature tree can send growth-stimulating carbon to a sapling that isn’t getting enough of it. One group of trees can send chemical messages to help another group of trees fend off insect attacks. What can we learn about resiliency, efficiency and creative empowerment from the world around us, embracing those lessons to improve the quality of our own lives?


The natural world holds countless examples of the vital role of Elderhood. Vitality that calls for the re-discovery, reclamation, and activation of Elderhood for ourselves. What is Elderhood? Where does it comes from? What is useful, what is worth letting go? Consider evidence of Elderhood as a reliable resource throughout life – one we can nurture and champion. This program reveals the opportunity for reclaiming the wild possibilities of Elderhood – of wisdom and peace in a too frequently wacky world.


For the past 500 years, wolves have been routinely demonized. And yet across history no animal has been more frequently sought out by humans as a source of wisdom for what it takes to build successful social groups – be it families, or even whole societies. From the lavish care a wolf pack offers its young, to the way pack leaders govern by ensuring freedom for their underlings, wolves show astonishing social intelligence and biological resiliency. This program, based in part on in-depth studies of the wolves of greater Yellowstone, reconnects us with an animal who even today remains a potent teacher.


An exploration of lively and practical insights into 3 critical forces that shape every life form, and thus, every human system: A) an essential nurturing of deep interdependence; B) an astonishingly efficient use of energy, that creates a reliable stream of “best choices”; and C) the fact that from an ecological standpoint, there’s simply no better predictor of resilience than diversity.


Fire is an ancient force, powerful enough to shape much of the natural world, and to stand as a real threat to human community. America is now being hit by nearly 50,000 wildfires annually – up 500% from the 1970’s. Thousands of homes are being destroyed. Familiar, comforting landscapes are suddenly stark and strange. In this unprecedented age of wildfire gone extreme we can look to the natural world for guidance. This talk reveals practical mitigation strategies for homes and communities alongside practices for addressing the array of challenges, anxiety, and grief that come with living in wildfire country.


“The way they present together shows us what Full Ecology is – what it looks like. We were engaged in and enlightened by their co-facilitation of the keynote. A huge value-added component to have them both.”
Gil Hallows, executive director Legacy Outdoor Adventures

“The best, most authentic and captivating energy I’ve experienced from a team keynote. They made it clear that the beauty we see outside in nature is inside, too – something we can rely on to show us what self-care means. Totally inspiring.”
John Kasbe, independent film maker

“I’ve never been to a keynote where the speakers so successfully energized us for the conference to follow.”
Anthony Hanson, conference sponsor 

“Thank you for offering an alternative to simply thinking of Elderhood as becoming old. One particularly valuable aspect of your focus, I think, is that you refrain from sugar-coating the really hard parts of longer life, even as you emphasize positive dimensions. Your calm, grace-full, generous presence complements your message so well.”
Linda Clark, Lifelong learning program organizer

“So wonderful– truly wonderful!! We all agreed there could not have been a better program . . .”
Carrie Coogan, Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Kansas City Public Library

“Writer Gary Ferguson and social psychologist Dr. Mary Clare are the perfect duo for liberal arts colleges and other communities that value interdisciplinary conversations. They engage a wide audience, grappling with issues of race, gender, and class that are often overlooked in discussions of environmental justice.”
Scott Nadelson, English Department Chair, Willamette University

“Beautifully organic. I’ve been to many conferences where I’ve heard keynotes. I’ve never heard a couple. It was mesmerizing – the content as well as the relationship. These days we need to learn so much about relationship.”
Mara Kavanaugh, therapist

“It was a treat to hear and watch Gary and Mary co-facilitate such a fantastic topic. I loved the clarity of your discussion of mentorship and the wisdom of the land. This was a very special event for me, a true emerging from vision to actualization.”
Tim Walsh, outdoor educator and recovery coach

Although our Keynotes & Workshops are carefully tailored for the needs of each specific organization, their heart is always geared towards combating the damage done by our separation from nature. Their end goal is always tangible, sustainable change, whether personally, relationally, or organizationally. The EIGHT INSTRUCTIONS—the core principles of Full Ecology—serve as the connective thread interlacing all our workshops, presentations and keynotes. Below are several examples of past keynotes the illustrate the dynamic range of topics and struggles our work addresses.


Leaning on What We Know – Loving What we Don’t

What can you tell from a hydrangea in full bloom? Maybe something about beauty - something about reliability in the big middle of uncertainty. Maybe something about hanging in there - about stepping out of the way of your own magnificence. Since, there it is, whether...

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Why Intensive Retreats?

If you're on our mailing list, you've been seeing initial word of two retreats we're pulling together. One in mid September in Yellowstone country - a weekend. And another a full week in Guanajuato, Mexico next February. But why retreats? And this...

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Wilderness Rangers – Stewards of Our Public Lands

In 1905, management of U.S. forest reserves was transferred from the General Land Office of the Interior Department to the Bureau of Forestry, and thereafter named the United States Forest Service. Some of the most beautiful and precious of these lands are tended by...

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Inquire to Break Through

Full Ecology can best be found in the times and spaces that on most days you tend not even to see. Sort of like the Chinese ancients observed long ago when they wrote only fish cannot know water. There are circumstances sustaining human life that none of us tends to...

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Listening – Learning

Here in this sweep of valley ringed by mountains, there are .. finally .. undeniable signs of spring. Every year, the emergence of this season equates with a rekindling, a renewal of human spirit. It’s something to do with having made it through the dark time – the...

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THIS. A Full Ecology Blog

We thought we’d jump in with our first Full Ecology blog during EARTH WEEK – you know, the week that follows Earth Day? Monday, April 22 was the 49th time people have formally joined together across communities and countries (now more than 190) to celebrate the...

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