Online Library Course Calendar Monthly Updates Photo Gallery              


Permaculture presentation
Course Calendar

Rancho Mastatal hosts workshops, courses and groups during all times of the year. Most but not all of these are mentioned below. They include but are not limited to activities in natural building, organic gardening, sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry, community growth, permaculture, yoga, environmental and ecological research and studies, green education and outreach, conservation and preservation, and wilderness medicine.

The schedule below helps keep interested parties and prospective visitors abreast of what is happening here throughout the year. Although space is often available, special events, workshops, and group visits can and do limit space. Please contact us prior to your visit for up-to-date details on availability and current goings-on.

This calendar is subject to change and is updated as often as possible.

For payments to Rancho Mastatal using PayPal, go to our Accommodations Rates page.

We are open and able to host small, ecological weddings, business retreats, conferences, and family reunions and getaways.  If you would like to have us host your event or use our facilities, or need more detailed information about anything below, please contact us directly at

prev 6 mo
Course Calendar

next 6 mo

  Greenwood College School Sustainable Living Class   January 2 - January 9
  Eastern Iowa Community College   January 11 - January 18
  Wilderness First Responder Certification Course   January 20 - January 29
  Semester in Wilderness Medicine   February 1 - February 26
  Villanova Service Learning Program   February 28 - March 7
  SUNY ESF Ecological Engineering   March 8 - March 15
  Solar Electricity for the Developing World   March 21 - March 28
  Natural Building Intensive   March 31 - April 11
  Permaculture Design Certification Course   April 19 - May 2
31 Today
  October 2014  
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
  November 2014  
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
  December 2014  
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
  January 2015  
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
  February 2015  
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
  March 2015  
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
Course Details

Greenwood College School Sustainable Living Class - Evolve Tours

Event Dates: January 2-January 9, 2015 Register Here

We'll once again be receiving students fromGreenwood College School for this life-changing experience focused on sustainable living. 

Eastern Iowa Community College - RM and EICC

Event Dates: January 11-January 18, 2015 Register Here

This will be our first group from Eastern Iowa Community College.  The course focus will be ecology and sustainability.  For more information please contact Tim O'Hara.   

Wilderness First Responder Certification Course - Aerie Backcountry Medicine

Event Dates: January 20-January 29, 2015 Register Here

For the twelfth year running Aerie and Rancho Mastatal are offering this 72-hour certification course for guides, tour operators, lodge owners and others interested in learning more about and getting trained in backcountry first aid and first response.  This Wilderness First Responder (WFR) curriculum is the standard wilderness medicine class for many outdoor organizations' supervisors. The course addresses injury and illness prevention, patient assessment, long-term injury management, improvised splint and litter construction and environmental emergencies. Approximately half of the course is classroom lecture and half practical scenarios. Students also receive American Heart Association CPR for the Professional Rescuer certification.  This course is a unique opportunity for students to receive outstanding wilderness medicine training in a spectacular setting. Aerie's courses are dynamic and challenging, preparing students for travel and work in remote, outdoor settings. This WFR is ideal for individuals or outdoor leaders traveling and/or working in Central America and/or the Tropics.  There will be one free day scheduled in the middle of the course so students can rest and enjoy the incredible surroundings. 


Aerie instructors present at national and regional conferences, including the Wilderness Risk Management Conference, the International Conference on Outdoor Recreation and Education, the Spring Fever Trauma Conference and the US Forest Service Incident Medical Specialist program.


This course will be offered in English.  If we have enough interest from Spanish-speaking students, we will translate the course to Spanish.   


Students should plan on arriving to the Ranch no later than 8 a.m. on the morning of the first day of the class.  We encourage students to arrive the night before (this night is included in the cost of the class).  


Foreigners $925; Ex-pats living in Central America $850; Costa Ricans $750; Rancho Mastatal Interns $475. A $250 deposit will secure your spot in the course. We will also be offering a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course and a Wilderness First Responder Refresher course on January 28 and 29.  The WFA costs $195 plus $40 per day for food and lodging.  The WFR refresher costs $250 for non-Aerie alumni and $225 for Aerie alumni plus $40 per day for food and lodging.  CRP is $35 plus $40 per night for food and lodging.  There is a 15% discount on food and lodging for Costa Ricans ($35 per night).  

About Aerie

Aerie provides outstanding training on a local, national and international level. Their courses, from Wilderness First Aid through Wilderness EMT, are taught to employees and members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), NOLS, Outward Bound, the US National Park Service, the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Missoula Backcountry Horsemen Association, and others. Aerie provides training for the US Forest Service Smokejumper's EMTs and the USFS Wildlands Firefighting program.

Cancellation Policy

We receive the right to cancel the course due to inadequate enrollment and circumstances beyond our control. In the event of cancellation, all payments, including deposits, will be refunded.

For more information on the course and/or to register for the course, contact:

Dave McEvoy

Aerie School for Backcountry Medicine

315 S 4th St E Suite 202

Missoula, MT 59801



For more information about the accommodations and course site, please contact Tim O'Hara at Rancho Mastatal.

Semester in Wilderness Medicine - Aerie Backcountry Medicine

Event Dates: February 1-February 26, 2015 Register Here

Program Overview: The Wilderness Medicine Semester is a unique program designed for people with an interest in wilderness and travel medicine and their associated industry-leading certifications. It provides students with the training and credentials to live and work in the most challenging environments in the world. With one month in the tropics of Costa Rica and a second in the mountains of Montana, Aerie’s Wilderness Medicine Semester is a 15-credit intensive program designed to give students the most valuable, well-rounded training in wilderness medicine, outdoor survival and risk management. At the center of the semester is Aerie’s Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) class. Integrated with the WEMT, the semester includes in-depth training in swiftwater rescue, avalanche rescue, Search and Rescue, tropical survival, alternative medicine and winter survival.

Students will learn human anatomy and physiology at the University of Montana cadaver lab. They will have instruction from local, traditional healers from the small village where they will live in Costa Rica. Optional evening instruction will include Spanish immersion and homestays with local families. Students will participate in an overnight survival exercise and orienteering training, taught by members of the Costa Rican endurance team, and then travel to Montana where they will be trained in winter survival and Search and Rescue from experts in mountain medicine.

Course Locations: Students will live in two of the most beautiful locations possible. The first month in Costa Rica will primarily be held at Rancho Mastatal, a sustainable-living organic farm and education center located eight miles from the Pacific Coast. Class in Mastatal will focus on wilderness and travel medicine, traditional healing, local flora and fauna, and survival in a tropical environment. They will participate as EMT students in a free health clinic that Aerie offers to residents of Mastatal. They will then travel together to Missoula, taking a night there to meet at the cadaver lab and review anatomy and physiology. The following day, students will travel to the Northwest Connections facility in the Swan Valley, located between the Bob Marshall and Mission Mountain Wilderness areas and just South of Glacier National Park. In the Swan, students will be in a mountainous, winter environment and we will complete the WEMT curriculum, focusing on altitude, hypothermia, avalanche rescue, winter survival and Search and Rescue.

Certifications: Successful students will receive certifications in

        Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician
        National Registry Emergency Medical Technician – Basic
        State of Montana Emergency Medical Technician – Basic
        Rescue III International Swiftwater Rescue Technician
        American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR
        Level 1 Avalanche

Additional Training:

        Vehicle Extrication with Missoula City Fire Department
        Helicopter rescue with LifeFlight in Missoula
        Search and Rescue Training with Missoula County Search and Rescue
        Program and outdoor risk management
        Human anatomy and physiology at the University of Montana cadaver lab
        Organizing and offering community health clinics

15 credits are offered through the University of Montana Department of Health and Human Performance.

Room and Board: All room and board is covered while in Mastatal and Montana.

Costs: Please contact Aerie directly. 

For more information on the course and/or to register for the course, contact:

Dave McEvoy

Aerie Backcountry Medicine

315 S. 4th Street East, Suite 202

PO Box 8146

Missoula, MT 59801



Villanova Service Learning Program - RM and TAE

Event Dates: February 28-March 7, 2015 Register Here

Tropical Adventures in Education will be leading students and student leaders from Villanova University on this yearly service learning trip to Mastatal. They will be working on community projects in the surrounding communities. For more information, please contact Robert Tournay.

SUNY ESF Ecological Engineering - RM and SUNY ESF

Event Dates: March 8-March 15, 2015 Register Here

This class from SUNY ESF will focus on Ecological Engineering with a focus on sustainability.  More information to come soon.  In the meantime if you'd like more information, please contact Tim O'Hara.

Solar Electricity for the Developing World - Ian Woofenden

Event Dates: March 21-March 28, 2015 Register Here

$1,285, includes program, all meals, dorm lodging, and in-country transportation

Learn how to design and install small solar-electric systems to provide lights and cell-phone charging for poor rural people -- by doing it! Classroom sessions and labs support real-world installations in the field.

Domingo's House

Rancho Mastatal provides the food, lodging, and support -- but also a great example of a variety of sustainability endeavors, including natural building, agriculture, energy technologies, and community involvement. It's located adjacent to La Cangreja National Park, and the warm tropical environment  -- with swimming holes and waterfalls -- is a welcome break from the northern winter.

For more details:

To register:

Please contact Ian Woofenden directly with questions.

Natural Building Intensive - RM, Liz Johndrow, Ryan Chivers

Event Dates: March 31-April 11, 2015 Register Here

Liz Johndrow of Earthen Endeavor Natural Building and Ryan Chivers of Artesano Traditional Plasters will return to Rancho Mastatal to join the Ranch staff in late-March for 2-weeks of hands-on and feet-in learning and classroom theory and discussion coupled with slideshow presentations and evening topic discussions. We will cover everything earth, lime, and clay from site selection, foundations and earthen wall systems, to the fine art of sculpting, Moroccan tadelakt, and finish plaster. You will want to join us for this opportunity unlike any other! The Ranch provides years of beautiful and inspiring natural building to emphasize successes and learning curves, beauty and function. And Liz and Ryan both bring expertise, passion, fun, and serious learning opportunities to their workshops.

About the Instructors

Ryan Chivers
Ryan founded Artesano LLC in 1999 in order to move beyond conventional construction towards a more natural and inspiring way to build. Ryan soon discovered strawbale constuction and the art of plastering.  Fascinated with traditional techniques and materials, Ryan spends time researching, formulating, testing, and re-learning the old ways using materials that are abundant almost everywhere on earth. He has travelled to Morocco to expand his knowledge of tadelakt, and is well connected and respected in the natural building and traditional plastering fields.

Liz Johndrow

Liz is founder of Earthen Endeavors Natural Building and has been building and teaching for several years. She has worked with all kinds of materials and techniques and has collaborated int the past with Kleiwerks International teaching a 4- month women's natural building apprenticeship. She also co-leads timber framing workshops with Sarah Highland of Highland Artisans and also enjoys all things mud, particularly all types of plasters. She is presently collaborating with women's organizations in Nicaragua to help increase quality of life through natural building opportunities for locals.  Liz enjoys spaces that bring her in touch with the natural surroundings. As a builder, she was thrilled to discover she could bring that contact deeper into a home experience through the choice of building materials. Since that discovery, she has been exploring the world of cob, strawbale, adobe, earthbag, earthen plasters and floor systems, and timber framing. The simplicity of these systems and materials allow for people of all ages and abilities to participate in some manner. The past several years have taken her further into the role of teacher, facilitator, instructor and co-conspirator. She is increasingly passionate about helping others learn these skills so they in turn can share their vision of beautiful, sustainable, and socially just structures. Her more recent work in Nicaragua with the women and youth in the northern pueblos has been her most challenging and rewarding work thus far. Check out her website for more of her vision and her work.


Students should plan on arriving to Rancho Mastatal the evening before the start of the class.  This night is included in the cost of the course.

Central Americans, US$700; residents and ex-pats, US$900; foreigners, $1,100. Cost includes 13 nights lodging starting on the night before the start of the class, all meals except on Sundays when we patronize the local restaurant, course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.  A $250 deposit will secure your space in the course. 

For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.

Course Payment
Please follow the link for payment options.

To enroll in the class, please go to our Online Registration Form.  For more information please contact Tim O’Hara at and/or call the Ranch at 2200-0920. We have a maximum of 15 openings for this workshop and a minimum of 5 students to run the course.

Permaculture Design Certification Course - Rancho Mastatal, Chris Shanks

Event Dates: April 19-May 2, 2015 Register Here

Join renowned permaculture instructors Chris Shanks, Mitch Haddad, Scott Gallant and Laura Killingbeck for this annual life-changing 2-week experience. The course covers the core Permaculture Design curriculum and emphasizes creating diverse multi-functional human landscapes based on ecological patterns. Utilizing Rancho Mastatal as a living classroom, the class will mix lectures and hands-on work, exploring design solutions for both temperate and tropical regions.  Putting Permaculture into practice, the course concludes with students working in teams to create their own permaculture site design. This course is applicable to anyone with an interest in designing resilient and regenerative futures as well as professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, ecology, education, farming and community development. The whole-systems design thinking outlined in the course will give participants the tools to re-design and improve their surroundings; from gardens, farms and homes, to livelihoods, relationships and communities.

Please note that permaculture is a principle and ethic based design science.  This course does not include metaphysical, spiritual, nor religious topics and practices. 

Topics covered include:

    •    Principles and ethics of Permaculture Design
    •    Site analysis and design, from the tropics to temperate regions
    •    Landscape master planning and microclimate design
    •    Reading the landscape and pattern recognition
    •    Design for climate change
    •    Regenerative land management and stewardship
    •    Water catchment, storage, filtration, and distribution
    •    Biologically based treatment of greywater and blackwater
    •    Natural building techniques including timber framing, bamboo and cob
    •    Integrated animal husbandry, including goats, chickens, fish and bees
    •    Aquaponics
    •    Nursery techniques, plant propagation and grafting
    •    Agro-forestry and organic horticulture
    •    Cultivation and use of medicinal plants
    •    Soil rehabilitation and fertility strategies
    •    Orchard design and maintenance
    •    Alternative cooking technologies including methane bio-digesters, rocket and bio-char stoves, cob and solar ovens
    •    Renewable energies and biofuels
    •    Local and regenerative economics
    •    Urban and suburban permaculture strategies
    •    Village design and community building strategies


The course will be taught in English and simultaneously translated into Spanish.


Chirstopher Shanks

A multi-talented teacher, organizer, permaculture enthusiast, and design visionary, Chris has worked with some of the finest Permaculture and ecological designers in the Western hemisphere. Fascinated with living systems, Chris has invested himself heavily into the study of whole systems design, ethno-botany, horticulture, mycology, and ecology. His interests have led him to study agro-ecosystems and cultural anthropology in Spain, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, the USVI, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Hawai’i, as well as the temperate and sub-tropical regions of both coasts of the United States. Chris combines leading the ground team at Project Bona Fide, a non-profit research and demonstration farm in Nicaragua, with his own work in the professional design world. He works in master planning and site design with Whole Systems Design LLC and serves as their chief horticulturalist and Project Manager. Chris also founded and runs his own company, Living Systems Solutions, based in Nicaragua. When not working in the non-profit or design world he can be found masquerading as a builder, a mason, a decent plumber, a poor electrician, a sailor, a fanatic for bamboo, a lover of palms, a permaculturalist with a rock/tree climbing habit, and as an avid motorcyclist.

Mitch Haddad
A dedicated community organizer and permaculture aficionado-in-training. He holds joint degrees in Latin American Studies, International Studies and Spanish from Providence College. Since joining the Project Bona Fide team in 2010, Mitch has grown into a key player within the organization. He emphasizes a community-based approach to project management and is a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of daily life at the farm. In addition to being an amateur builder and carpenter, he is passionate about natural building, food security and appropriate technology. When he’s not running around the farm and interacting with the local community, he gorges himself on guavas and continues to refine his jamming, fermentation, and chocolate-making skills.

Scott Gallant
Scott Gallant is a food system designer from small town Ohio. He graduated from Wabash College in 2008 with a degree in Economics. He and his partner Laura traveled and volunteered extensively in Latin America prior to arriving at Rancho Mastatal. Over the past several years he has become a leader in the broader Costa Rican permaculture community. Passionate about tropical agriculture, systems thinking, ethnobotany, community development, and group leadership, he is currently immersing himself in the fields of Keyline Design and Holistic Management, while working with an amazing group to build the Ranch's food production systems. He is a principle founder of the Rancho Mastatal Design/Build Collective. When not talking about plants he enjoys running full speed on the community plaza, cycling over mountains, devouring books, and making lists.

Laura Killingbeck
Laura is wildly passionate about food, nutrition, and whole systems health. She has a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Rhode Island and is a current Wilderness First Responder. She worked previously as a superhero mascot, a sawyer, and a sustainability consultant. Laura spent several years traveling through Latin America by thumb, boat, bike, and bus before landing at the Ranch with her partner Scott in 2009. She spends her days concocting live culture ferments, curing vanilla, planting rhizome guilds, and living in community.

Other Information:


Students should plan on arriving to the Ranch no later than 8 a.m. on the morning of April 19 and are encouraged to arrive on the evening of April 18 (the night of April 18 is included in the cost of the course). We will hit the ground running on the morning of April 19 with an orientation and tour. The course will wrap up on the evening of May 2. 


Central Americans, US$850; residents and ex-pats, US$1150; foreigners (non-Central American) US$1,300. These prices include 15 nights lodging (starting on April 18), all meals (except on Sunday nights when we support a local restaurant), course instruction and full access to Rancho Mastatal and its private wildlife refuge.


For more information about food and lodging please see our website at accommodations.

Course Payment

Please follow the link for payment options.


For more information and/or to enroll in this course please contact Tim O’Hara at, call the Ranch at 2200-0920 or sign up Online Here. We have a maximum of 18 openings for this workshop and a minimum of 8 students to run the course.