Training Programs Overview

Updates for 2021!

Our application deadline for the Family and Clinical Herbalist Training programs has passed. Any new applications we receive will be placed on a wait list.

The deadline for applications to the Herbal Roots Apprenticeship is February 1st.

While we are still refining our plans for 2021 to accommodate the changing landscape created by the pandemic, we do have the basic structure and format mapped out. Please read below for the details we can currently confirm. Bold text highlights the changes that are new for 2021.

The big news is that beginning in 2021, we will be extending our offerings to include students who choose not to relocate to Vermont or who are otherwise not able to join us in person. These distance-learning students will attend classes via live-stream, on the same schedule as local students. We are committed to remaining an in-person, physical school, while also extending our welcome to a wider community of learners through this remote-learning option. 

To continue to offer the hands-on and relational skills that we find vital to herbalism, we’ll utilize a low-residency model which allows students to study and practice in their home community, while coming together with teachers and classmates for 3 required residential intensives each year. (Note, due to the hands-on and outdoor focus of Herbal Roots, students in this program should still plan to live within reasonable commuting distance in order to attend weekly in-person classes whenever public health allows; there will not be intensives for Roots.) 

Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the shifting community needs here in Vermont and nationally, we are planning for the possibility that all students will be learning via the virtual live-stream platform for some or all of 2021. While we are absolutely committed to welcoming students to join us in the classroom at every opportunity, we are also concerned about our students’, clients’, and our own health and safety. This means that even residential intensives may be held online if necessitated by community health status and we will make every effort to offer a rich experience regardless of the learning platform. We’ll keep applicants up to date with the latest information we have, but we currently can’t predict the likelihood of in-person learning at the start of the year. 

For 2021 applicants, we strongly suggest you read our FAQ page, in addition to thoroughly reviewing the information below.

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Rooted in values of mutual aid, sustainability and justice, we believe that herbal medicine should be accessible, bioregional and liberatory. Our training programs are dedicated to exploring how best to realize this vision and we are honored and inspired by the investment and commitment that each of our students bring to our learning community.

In each of our programs, our students engage in our mission through their work in our gardens, lab, apothecary and/or clinic. This integrated model allows us to make herbal medicine more accessible to our local community, while offering students hands-on experience with a model of care that we hope they will replicate and expand upon in their own communities.

In addition to a deep love for plants and herbalism, our faculty and students are dedicated to working towards justice and liberation for all. Each of us commit to continued self-reflection, education, action and accountability while we cultivate a relational culture devoted to solidarity and mutual welcome. We strive to create a classroom environment that is trauma sensitive and actively anti-oppressive, while acknowledging that we are always (and will always be) learning and growing in this work.

We invite you to apply if you’re excited by our commitment to social and ecological justice and are eager to explore the impacts of colonization and other systems of oppression (e.g. racism, sexism, ableism, extractive capitalism) on health and illness. Join us, too, if you’re interested in the ways in which Eurocentric / “Western” herbal medicine and herbalists can (and must) uproot these same systems within our studies and practices.

We look forward to connecting with you and hearing how we can support you on your herbal medicine journey.

Summary of Program Offerings

VCIH offers intensive learning opportunities for students at every stage of herbal education. There are four years of training available, serving students just beginning their herbal journey, as well as those with considerable experience. We offer our 1-year Family Herbalist and 3-year Clinical Herbalist programs, as well as an 8-month program, Herbal Roots Apprenticeship.

With the addition of the Herbal Roots program in 2015, we increased the rigor of our Family Herbalist program, making it more appropriate for intermediate students with some prior experience or training. The Family Herbalist program continues to serve as the first year of the Clinical Herbalist program for those interested in pursuing more advanced studies and a career in herbal medicine. The curriculum in each of the four years is designed to build on the material in the previous year(s), while also standing independently, allowing students to engage at the level that meets their goals and experience.

Herbal Roots apprenticeship: 8 months (beginner)

Herbal Roots provides a thorough introduction to folk herbalism, focusing especially on plant cultivation and harvest, medicine-making and herbal self-care.

Family Herbalist training program: 1 year  (intermediate)

The Family Herbalist offers a solid foundation in responsible and effective community care,  preparing students to be key wellness resources, connected to local ecosystems and aid networks.

Clinical Herbalist training program: 3 years (intermediate – advanced)

Our clinical program integrates the diverse arts and sciences related to herbal medicine, offering one of the most intensive professional training opportunities in the country. Students have the opportunity to provide an important wellness resource for our rural community, while also honing visions and skills for their own future work.

Pre-requisite Study: Entry into the Family or Clinical Herbalist programs requires students to have some foundational experience or training, which can be satisfied through the Herbal Roots apprenticeship or a variety of similar programs in Vermont and beyond. Students who have documented prior training, experience or self-study may also apply for advanced placement into the second year of the Clinical Herbalist program, though open spaces are extremely limited. Student progression from year to year (or entry via advanced standing) is competitive and based on the demonstrated commitment and skill of each student.

Location: All programs are hosted in Plainfield, Vermont, in our new facilities on the historic Goddard College campus, and in the surrounding environs of Central Vermont. Beginning in 2021, we will also be offering distance-learning options, allowing students to participate online, via live-streaming, without relocating. For all students, 3 in-person intensives will be required each year, meaning distance-learning students will need to be able to travel to Vermont for those residencies (likely 5-7 days each).

Schedule: In general, classes for the Family and Clinical Herbalist programs run on the calendar year, beginning mid-February and ending mid-December.  There are two weeks off in April or May, two-three weeks off in August (depending on the program), and a week off around Thanksgiving. While this is the general schedule students can expect, we are still setting our exact start/end dates and break weeks for 2021 and beyond. We are also still setting the intensive weeks (though approximate time periods for these are mid-February, May/June and August/September). Applicants will be given exact dates with acceptance, allowing plenty of time for travel planning. 

Classes for the Herbal Roots apprenticeship begin in April and end in November each year.

Generally, Herbal Roots classes are held from 9-5 on Mondays (plus one weekend trip); the Family Herbalist program (aka the first year of the Clinical program) runs from 9-5 on Wednesdays; the second year of the Clinical program is offered from 9-5 on Thursdays and Fridays (with some field, apothecary and clinical observation work at other times); and the third year is held from 1-8 on Mondays and 9-6 on Tuesdays (with three clinical retreats and occasional clinical internship opportunities offered at other times).

Herbal Roots apprenticeship program—210 hours over 9 months

A stand-alone program for the beginning herbal student, this true apprenticeship-style year emphasizes hands-on, embodied learning and is ideal for those who are new to herbs, but keen to make them part of their daily lives. This course provides a thorough understanding of using herbs for self-care. During the Summer months, students spend half of each day with their hands in the dirt, learning to grow and harvest common herbs. The remainder of the day is spent preparing remedies and learning to use herbs to maintain health, as well as address common complaints safely and effectively. Additional topics include an introduction to the rich history of herbal medicine, fundamental energetic concepts, the science of nature, and basic physiology of body systems.

Students can choose to attend the program as a stand alone course, taking home a full kit of remedies, a strong skill set for self-care and a certificate of completion. The Herbal Roots Apprenticeship program meets on Mondays from 9am-5pm. Learn more

Faculty: Joann Darling and Netta Mae Walsh, with guest teaching from Betzy Bancroft and Larken Bunce

Family Herbalist training program—308 hours over 1  year

This program is geared for intermediate students who are interested in moving beyond self-care in order to serve their friends and families with their knowledge. Participation in the Herbal Roots apprenticeship or a similar foundational program is a prerequisite for joining this program. Building on the foundation of the Herbal Roots apprenticeship, the Family Herbalist delves more deeply into the sciences and arts of herbal medicine to better understand world energetic systems, botany, plant chemistry and human physiology. Students also spend time outdoors, visiting diverse Vermont ecosystems, working in the gardens, and preparing herbal products to be used in VCIH’s clinic. By the end of the year, students will have a solid foundation in herbalism, both theoretical and practical, while being prepared to confidently address common conditions of friends and family responsibly and safely.

Students completing this program receive a certificate of completion as a Family Herbalist and can choose to apply to continue with the second and third years of the Clinical Herbalist program if they desire. The Family Herbalist Training program meets on Wednesdays from 9am-5pm. Learn more

Core faculty: Betzy Bancroft, Kristen Henningsen; adjunct faculty: Larken Bunce, Lisa Olson, Linden de Voil, Ember Peters

Clinical Herbalist training program—1356 hours over 3 years

This comprehensive Clinical Herbalist training program prepares students for work as professional herbalists.  The curriculum of the Family Herbalist program serves as the first year of the Clinical Herbalist program. Students with prior documented experience can apply to be considered for advanced standing into the second year, though space is very limited (see the Admissions process for more information). The curriculum of the second and third years broadens the focus to develop students’ critical thinking and clinical skills, while examining more complex health conditions, social determinants of health and health justice, business development, teaching, and practice in an integrative medical model. Ultimately, students staff our community clinics, working with their own clients under supervision throughout the third year.

Students completing this program receive a certificate of completion as a Clinical Herbalist. The second year of the Clinical Herbalist Training program generally meets on Thursdays and Fridays from 9am-5pm and the third year meets on Mondays from 1pm-8pm and Tuesdays from 9am-6pm (with 3 Monday morning clinical retreats).

Year 1 — This year is a combination of hands-on skill development and didactic time in the classroom, providing more complex medicine-making skills, introductory coverage of phytochemistry and pharmacology, student-led skill sharing, holistic physiology, in-depth coverage of materia medica, and therapeutic approaches to common system dysfunctions. Learn more

Year 2 — This year will focus on understanding more complex system dysfunctions (both energetically and physiologically) as well as the social and ecological determinants of health, intermediate coverage of phytochemistry and pharmacology, developing critical thinking and clinical strategies, and grounding in the logistical and relational skills of a practitioner. Learn more

Year 3 — This year brings the learning from the first two years to the clinical relationship. In addition to continued study of complex health conditions and materia medica, the student will see clients under supervision in the community clinics, while also developing a business plan for their future work as an herbalist, and practice sharing their knowledge through community teaching. Learn  more

Core faculty: Betzy Bancroft, Larken Bunce, Kristin Henningsen; Adjunct faculty: Linden de Voil, Iris Gage, Laura Litchfield, Guido Masé, Julie Mitchell, Lisa Olson, Ember Peters, Netta Mae Walsh