About Turtle Island Preserve

Mission Statement

Living off the Land 

Turtle Island guides people through experiences with the natural world to enhance their appreciation and respect for life. We achieve this through a more comprehensive understanding of nature combined with the lessons of our elders and traditions.

Eustace above the forest Turtle Island Preserve is the "Brain Child" of Eustace Conway. He inherited the vision of earth stewardship and betterment of man from his maternal grandfathers' legacy of Camp Sequoyah, founded in 1924. Turtle Island today, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit education center, a continuation of this rich educational family heritage. 

Our programs celebrate lifestyle practices of earlier people from our great grandparent's time, back into prehistory. We orient to the basic foundation of where things come from and where things go. We plant and harvest in our gardens, milk goats, make cheese, craft bowls, spoons and tools of all size and description. We hunt and gather wild foods and medicines and natural resources abounding in our huge natural preserve. We cook exclusively over fire, gathering our own wood. We completely made the many buildings of our farmstead; carved literally right from the wilderness.

walking on rocks at stream confluence Visitors are uplifted by the clean environment, beautiful streams, huge trees, pristine forest, and horse-drawn farm - like walking back in time, actually more like leaping back in time! Ferns and flowers and butterflies and beauty are in every direction. You experience hand split shingles, hand carved log buildings, log bridges - a covered bridge; nature made sounds and smells. All of your senses are put into a pleasant state seldom found outside the world of nature.

Remote Hidden Valley Turtle Island is located in a remote hidden valley at the end of a long gravel road. Accommodations for guests are simple shelters, log houses and primitive tents. We really believe in getting back in touch with the natural world. We use outhouses instead of bathrooms and learn to "go outdoors." This is a complete cultural experience not a watered down viewing. When a group comes here it is life changing for them. That is our vision, goal, and success! We get hands on "experiential" activities going whether harnessing a mule or pounding metal at the blacksmith shop or killing a rooster for supper.

A Man And His Horse

Some people mistake a description of primitive living with "roughing it" but actually our ancestors moved gracefully with a balanced rhythm through daily economic challenges. It is the sophisticated "modern man" that, in his bumbling ignorance of earlier natural lifestyles, finds himself truly uncomfortably "roughing it" through his inability and discomfort of trying to exist in his "foreign environment" of nature.

College students learn simple gardening.Turtle Island is here to serve as an interpretation and guide - a leading example and gentle coaxing partner to the modern people interested in finding enriching, satisfying, nurturing, meaningful and life guiding experiences with our ancestors graceful dance through life and history.

We are dedicated to values and ethics of sane sustainable life practices for a quality future for generations to come. We learn more than recycling, but an earlier gem: sustainability. We get you involved in a day or week of this lifestyle. We offer inspiration through activities structured and adjusted to your ability and comfort zone. The real purpose is not limited to the surface impression of the list of skills taught.

Teamwork carrying logs

There is a much more profound influence impacted on a grand psyche scope that is more important to us at Turtle Island. For instance, a group may go into the forest with an ax and select a tree - cut it down - cut it to lengths and split it in half lengthwise. The group will carve rungs and assemble a ladder from their tree. They will learn of tools like broad hatchet, adz, and froe, wedges, drawknife, auger, etc., and they will learn the skills needed to use these tools. And this is an excellent education, giving historic perspective and botanical understanding of the forest and ethnographic uses of flora, but the real "meat of the value" in these "theme based" man and nature interactions is an elusive spiritual connection and stimulation of a deeper part of our natural human essence.

This goes back to the roots of our human experience and touches something - emotionally moving. We are affected more deeply than the surface actions of making a ladder. We climb up and down the rungs of time, exercising the essence of being fully human which goes well beyond our present technology and in fact is often trapped within the enslavement of our modern technology - the bills to pay for it, the lack of freedom, the illusion of freedom and the dissatisfying modern theme that only specialists can do anything – while we lack personal empowerment. So come make a ladder at Turtle Island and realize your true potential.