Wellness and Mentorship | Earthworks Institute

Wellness and Mentorship

Earthworks offers Rochester’s First Wilderness Healing Program



Dadirri (dah-dee-ree)
An ancient word that combines contemplation, deep inner listening, and quiet still awareness of life. Dadirri is like a crystal clearwater hole that calls us to be replenished and revitalized. To embody Dadirri, is to be at peace with yourself, with others, in nature, and with life itself. Be patient with yourself, with your neighbor, and wait upon the seasons. Become aware of the sacredness that surrounds you. Hear creation breathe and follow her rhythm.


What Is The Dadirri Initiative?

Earthworks has developed the The Dadirri Initiative as a means to help people in our community rediscover strength and peace within themselves via wilderness healing and mentoring. We believe that people are drawn to nature because it is the most powerful source of healing from within – it provides guidance and direction.
Since time, immemorial people have gone to the wilderness to seek vision, experience a deeper sense of self and reality, and find healing. Nature has a certain kind of light and clarity that speaks to each of us in the most primitive way- it touches a deeper energy within. Hidden by the distractions and hectic pace of daily life, this energy brings a peace through connecting the unconscious with a larger feeling of oneness.
Our wilderness healing programs utilize a process called nature immersion, to bring people back into a natural environment where they work closely with peers, connect via individual and group sessions,  practice mindfulness training, and are mentored in eco-educational curricula. These elements are designed to help create a sense of intimate connection to and inextricability from the natural world, thereby promoting a sense of  meaning, connectedness, personal and social responsibility, and emotional resiliency. Core elements of healing curricula include the fostering of three key concepts:

Healing hands
1.) Inreach: Receiving and being nurtured by the support of a community and the healing presence of nature.

2.) Upreach: The actual experience of vitality as the individual reconnects his or her place within the natural world and society.

3.) Outreach: Activities with people that care for one another as integral parts of that world. The outcomes seek to improve life-satisfaction, self-awareness and overall positive functionality.





-The Coyote Veteran Project-

(A subset of the Dadirri Initiative)

Veteran healing

Serving Those Who Have Served.

Coyote Veteran is a unique intervention program for veterans designed to supplement the therapeutic process of overcoming emotional and adjustment challenges associated with reintegration into civilian life, following time in service. Our hope is to to build emotional resiliency and self-empowerment through wilderness immersion, while teaching positive communication skills, teamwork, mindfulness and appreciation for their value and service in the community.

About the Program

Our program emphasizes a more relaxed readjustment into civilian life, where survival is no longer equivalent to a combat setting, but instead associated with recovery of mental health and emotional growth.
The phrase “Coyote teaching” refers to a well-known method of instruction popularized by Tom Brown Jr., acclaimed teacher, author and outdoorsman, and borrowed by philosophers and psychologists worldwide. This approach aims to spark curiosity and create a self-directed learning experience that teaches the participants how to seek answers on their own versus becoming dependent on a teacher. It has proven most effective with participants in a mentoring relationship with instructors, heavily reliant on the crucial ingredients of trust and the teacher’s knowledge of the participant’s personality, comfort zones, and background. CVP, an intervention program developed locally by EarthWorks Institute, Inc., is based on a wilderness survival course developed and offered by EWI at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

What a participant should expect


  • -Learning “hard skills” such as shelter building, fire-making, flora and fauna identification for food, wilderness self-care, medicine and backcountry travel.
  • -Developing self-awareness
  • -An open minded and flexible experience
  • -A safe space to test emotional boundaries of trial and error with guidance towards success.


How it works

Healing hands
This program is designed to supplement individual treatment plans that typically involve traditional therapy in addition to non-traditional therapeutic treatment/experience options. The wilderness healing process includes individual and group sessions focused on leadership, communication, and mindfulness activities. These sessions take place in a wilderness setting and facilitated by qualified professionals, including a social worker and a wilderness guide. These sessions are followed up by a formal evaluation process to assess the client’s progress.
CVP emphasizes a readjustment into civilian life where survival is no longer equivalent to a combat setting, but instead associated with recovery of mental health and emotional growth. The program includes mastery of :

  • -‘Hard skills’ such as shelter building, fire-making, identification of wild flora and fauna for food, wilderness self-care, and medicine and backcountry travel
  • -‘Soft skills’ such as developing self-awareness, positive communication, distress tolerance, active listening and effective interpersonal engagement

The program teaches emotional resiliency as well as personal and social responsibility. Challenges are administered in a neutral and safe environment and apply the real and metaphoric lessons learned in life situations, providing security for clients who are struggling to deal with life’s basic issues as well as coping with personal, physical, and psychological struggles.

How to Participate

Coyote Veteran clients are selected by Earthworks staff based on physical and mental health assessment forms completed by the clients’ physicians. Individualized program plans can be made available to participants based on personally identified goals for wilderness healing.