Archive for July, 2011

The Storm Devastation is Immense

Minutes after loading the last bale of hay, the sky darken, clouds thicken and the wind came rushing into Lac Indien valley. I remember the lights flickering at the lodge while showering moments before a tree came crashing down outside my window. Within thirty minutes the storm had done its damage. Staff members can recall various starts to the storm that Sunday evening. The property looked like a scene from Jurassic Park; thankfully no animals were loose on the front lawn.

Sequoia’s newly completed enclosure suffered the worst damage. She had six days of forest freedom until half of the fence line was wiped out. Three of our sled dogs, Lucky, Avalanche and Achmen, were equally as fortunate — a large Balsam Fir fell on their kennel placing enormous weight on their roof. Shoshone won the award for cutting it the closest when a section of White Pine and an old Poplar cleared the new kennel by mere feet. Two hours later, when we thought it was all over another storm blew through and it rained all night. Thankfully, all people and animals were unharmed.

The storm on July 17th was the worst ISES has ever seen and serves as a warning for the future destructive effects of climate change. Due to unbalanced temperatures, displaced water vapor and other factors, storm intensity is increasing. The storm devastation is immense and its projects out weigh the number of present ISES work crew.

The animals are eager for their homes to return to normal. As a result, we ask all ISES alumni, future students and ISES friends to help us reconstruct the animal enclosures that the wind and trees dismantled. We are offering a 3 to 5 day work-trade program. Room and board will be provided in exchange for reconstructing the critters’ homes. We ask those whose schedules are flexible or can be opened to respond as quickly as possible.

ISES programs will continue as scheduled and workers may choose to participate at the end of their work-trade arrangement. Thank you for your support! We look forward to seeing you.


Avalanche is hoping the rest of his roof will be fixed a.s.a.p. Most of the fir tree has been removed to ensure the safety of the dogs. The snapped beams must be replaced as well as much of the wire. On a positive note, the event of the falling tree yielded names for the two puppies: Tabernac and Sapine. If the story of the naming is not obvious, Lucky will gladly tell you.

The fallen trees in the new extended bear enclosure was the most upsetting. Sequioa had less than a week of play in the forest. Now we must act quickly so that she can get outside again before her fall release. She was really enjoying her private jungle gym.

Shoshone’s new kennel is barely visible beyond the roughage. This little bear cub was very brave to face not one but two fallen trees.

Many of you recognize the Medicine Garden. Thankfully, Derek was able to clean up the fallen Maple limp so now a piece of art remains leaving a reminder of nature’s force. We are waiting to see if the lilies, rhubarb and comfry bounce back.

Can you spot what’s wrong here? Any one want to go for a swim and get it?

Most of the trails and roads around campus looked or look like this. Can you recognize where this is?


Read Full Post »

ISES Experience 2011 Video

Letter from the Founder

It was the winter of 1978. I was staring across a wind-swept ridge during a mountaineering course when a dream to change the world was born. On the other side of the continent the “Le Grande” river in James Bay region was being turned into a series of hydroelectric dams & reservoirs. I made a promise to become a voice for natural, sacred places. I wanted to become an instrument for change.

Today, as school director, father and family patriarch I have serious concerns about the state of the Land we are passing on to our children. Man’s insatiable exploitation of our natural resources is deteriorating the global quality of life exponentially. And those who continue to deceive the public about systemic environmental challenges are true enemies of the emerging generation.
Subsequently, ISES is looking for students who want to become more environmentally prudent, informed and engaged. We seek those who want to help create a new world based upon social-environmental sustainability. So come join the ISES experience and share your insights, as we explore experiential education that bridges people, animals and the Land.
Geoffrey Cushing
ISES Co-Founder

Dog Carting 101

Training our sled dogs is an all season affair. At the end of the summer when the temperature drops a bit we like to hook up the dogs to a cart to condition them for the coming sled season. These dogcarts look similar to a go-cart without an engine. While we love our short summer season we always look forward to the approaching dry land training with the dogs. There has been talk off commencing a “wet land” training with the huskies as well. This would involve doggy PFDs, a paddle boat and 6 wet dogs in the lake. Personally, this writer is excited for the maiden voyage. If the dogs master the water, we will consider them an all terrain transportation with obvious limits.

With 9 young pups, much of our summer training will involve teaching the difference between “Gee”, “Ha” and “Down”. Some of this takes place in the kennel system, on hikes or on walks to the beach.

Recently, ISES has entered in to the Canadian Dog Carting Competition November 13 and 14, 2011 in Bristol, QC. Our huskies might become confused when they see the competition, for they resemble muts like Greyhounds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks rather than traditional sled dogs. No matter our pack can hold its own and we find out come November.


Upcoming Fall Gap Program

7 weeks to go! Our staff are eagerly awaiting the start of our fall gap semester on August 26th. The students will leave campus on September 2nd for the 3 week study tour toward Western Canada and the States. Summiting 12,000 feet in Waterton National Park, visiting Crazy Horse Monument and spotting wolves in Yellowstone National Park just to name a few highlights. Students will meet Ed McGaa, a member of the Ogala Sioux nation and author of Mother Earth Speaks and many other books on First Nation traditionalism. The program will also involve habitat restoration in Waterton National Park, an area taken over by Knapweed, an non-indigenous invasive species.


Wildlife Rehabilitation Update

Study Tour

While on a field trip southward into the States, our group stopped at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania. The sanctuary is a migration corridor for many species of hawks and other birds.

Wildlife Release

Within our own campus and wildlife center, we released a Barred Owl this past month. We have successfully taken every raccoon referred to us. We have 25 raccoons! They are all happy and healthy and will be with us until they are large enough to be released at the end of the summer. Thanks to a generous donation by ISES gap graduate 2010, Kenny Silver and his dad, Shoshone, our second bear cub on site was able to be moved outside into a new enclosure. She is happily soaking up the sun. Soon when the bear paddock is finished, she will move in with Sequoia.

Lurking Around Every Corner

Dromy, the rehabilitated vulture, has captured my special attention on campus. He likes the attention and companionship. Dromy spends time with staff and students in the garden, while cleaning dog kennels, building enclosures or during outdoor meetings. He has a tendency to sneak up on Zeus, our Border Terrier puppy, who is a bit intimidated by a large bird. Dromy watches while high in the sky anyone who ventures into the lake for an afternoon swim or nap on the trampoline.


Staff Update


My name is Molly Schriber and I am a graduate of the ISES gap program 2006/2007. While the newsletter is a collective effort, I am its current elected publisher. I am finally back on the ISES campus for the rest of the summer. Over the past six years because of my bond with the Cushing family and the ISES clan, I have interned at ISES in between my college experience at Elon University in North Carolina. I graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and International Studies. I will be an on-site member of the ISES staff before my two month excursion to Sri Lanka. I am so blessed and excited to be back on ISES’s campus!

Continuing Education

Corie Jo

Growing up my mom always mentioned attending the Tom Brown Jr. Tracking School, world renowned outdoor survivalist and tracker. This past May l had the opportunity to attend the trackers school ‘Standard Class’ (mandatory for all future students). The knowledge and skills learned during the one week was a life times work. Not to mention, it was barely touching the ice burg.

Which is why, during one of our busiest wildlife animal rescue and rehabilitation months, I received support from family and ISES staff in attending another class in NJ.

There comes a time in one’s life where one chooses to do something, rather than nothing. As society continues to grow, natural and pure places are becoming lost forever, along with lives we share this planet with. How the times living in harmony with the earth are being forgotten. The conscious knowing future generations may never see or experience choices we had. It is then you ask yourself “do people really care”? Will greed and ignorance really overpower one simple truth. Life? I found within these classes in New Jersey how to reconnect and become a child of the earth again, to empty my cup and nurture a vision. Most of all, I found hope in meeting people who really do care. So, like a web, saving the earth, people and animals, I believe we find ourselves called to a higher power in helping to make this world a better place, for all life and to our earth mother.

In one moment at Tom’s Ultimate class I found myself sitting next to a little oak tree, trying to figure out how to make a nice tri-pod without rope or bark. Gazing off to the horizon, I suddenly realized something. Placing each branch with care and support, my little tri-pod took form and became strong. Not because of the biggest and most perfect branches, but through the small and unique ones to become the power of place and community.



  • CNF has 3 healthy fawns in their care.
  • The new little bear cub, Shoshone, has been moved to her new enclosure outside.
  • Dr. David Cohen came to visit ISES. Dr. Cohen is an old friend of the family and a veterinarian in Israel. He had a great visit at Lac Indien.


“Like” us on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/earthstudies

Check out the ISES blog at isesblog.wordpress.com


International School for Earth Studies

www.earth-studies.ca info1@earth-studies.ca    819.647.3226

197 Fierobin Rd, Ladysmith, QC, Canada J0X 2A0

Read Full Post »