Wisdom of the Oaks

The Wisdom of the Oaks

The Wisdom of the Oaks program is fundamentally about restoring our relationship to the natural world and to what feeds us. Students embark on an ecological and culinary adventure to explore the oak web of life and how we are woven within this web. Since 2009, thousands of children, educators, and nature lovers have participated in the Wisdom of the Oak Program.

Our program begins with a classroom presentation on the central role that oaks play in the ecosystem and culture. Topics covered include ecology, natural history, Native American cultures, food and agriculture systems as well as world mythology. Native food systems are compared with mainstream agricultural systems in terms of sustainability, nutrition, ecological health, and land ethics. Afterwards, students participate in hands-on playshops to prepare and eat acorns – a sustainable, nutritious and tasty food. Wisdom of the oak students explore how changes in our relationship with nature can result in radically different environmental practices and food systems.

A wonderful thing about oaks is that you can begin with a humble acorn and branch out anywhere from ecology and chemistry to the cosmos. Oaks present a wide array of educational opportunities: field trips, science experiments, and ethnobotany can be integrated. Any school with an oak tree can be a research station and native food garden. Because world mythology is steeped in oak lore, California oaks present a portal into mythology and religion. Wisdom of the Oak workshops can be tailored to meet the needs of kindergarten to adult students. Our program dovetails perfectly with third through fifth grade curriculums. This deep ecology program expands the concept of school gardens to include our wild landscapes that nurture us in many ways 

Wisdom of the Oaks Video

“Thanks for coming to our school – our students LOVED your workshop!!!”

Michelle Chang

Principal, Dianne Feinstein Elem. School

“I used to look out on our oak filled hills and think that acorns were poisonous,  now I know that acorns are a source of nourishment and I have completely changed the way I see and interact with our oak landscapes”

Emily Bloom

Ecoliteracy Educator

What Can Be Gained From the Wisdom of the Oaks?


  • Understanding of the web of life and our human role within it

  • Knowledge of California native cultures and natural history

  • Opportunities for students in schools to have hands-on, real world environmental education experiences and link ecological concepts with classroom education

  • Exploration of our relationship to the land and how this impacts our choices about what we eat.

  • Meaningful conversation and critical thinking about food, food systems and what feeds and nourishes our society.

  • A deeper sense of connection to nature

Another thank you for your presentation today. It really was a very empowering talk for me. I now feel confident to use acorns for food and to teach my friends how to use them for food too!”

Carrie Sachs

Participant at Wisdom of the Oaks Workshop

“Go Wild Institute envisions that future generations will look to our oak lands, feel a sense of belonging, draw personal inspiration, and receive nourishment..

Jolie Elan

Founder and Director, Go Wild Institute

“I learned that Oak Trees need love like everyone else”

Dylan Walker

Participant, Oakland Zoo Acorn Playshop