ASIW banner

In nature’s classroom, children ages 6 to 18 are able to learn and have fun in a beautiful setting. Over the course of five days they will be taught the arts & sciences by inspiring artists, engineers, archeologists, scientists, survival skills instructors and more all while taking in the natural beauty of the outdoors. On the final day, family, friends & the community are invited to the Sun Foundation to celebrate their week of sharing & learning.

REGISTRATION FOR ART AND SCIENCE IN THE WOODS 2015 IS NOW CLOSED.  There are no more available slots.  Thank you!

Class Listings:

Major Classes

Minor Classes

We are still accepting donations for scholarships to enable financial needs students to attend Art and Science in the Woods. Any amount you can give will help provide these students the opportunity to experience this special program–thank you so much for your support!

Click the button to donate to the Sun Foundation using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or PayPal.

You will be transferred to the PayPal site, and from there you can enter the amount you wish to donate, and then either sign into your PayPal account (if you have one), or click on “continue” underneath “Don’t have a PayPal account?” to donate using a credit card.

Please put “ASIW scholarship” in the “Notes” section at the end.

You will receive a receipt after the payment is processed that you can print to document your donation for tax purposes.


Who Can Attend?
Everyone in moderate physical condition can enjoy being at ASIW.  It’s for ages 6 through adult.

When & Where?

June 8th through June 12th, 2015
ASIW is a five day program held Monday through Friday in June. Classes run from 9 am to 3 pm daily, RAIN OR SHINE at the Sun Foundation Center 25 miles north of Peoria. Sun Foundation Center is 9 miles South of Lacon & 2.5 miles East of IL Route 26. A sign on Route 26 marks the turn off.  See here for a MAP.
The Sun Foundation owns no land or facility. The Sun Foundation Center and Art & Science in the Woods are located on the property of Joan, Brett & Bob Ericksen – Blue Heron Farm, and neighboring farms.

How It Works
Mornings & all day Friday are devoted to in-depth study of one subject, called your Major. On Friday afternoon, you will share your learning with the rest of the group.
Monday through Thursday afternoons you will have a chance to do something different each day & learn a little bit about the topics that interest you. Afternoon classes are called Minors.

Lunch & Snacks
We recommend healthy, low sugar, nutritious lunch & snacks for AM & PM that won’t need refrigeration and a water bottle. Please, no Lunchables.

Bring & Wear
Wear comfortable clothing that can get soiled, wet, and painted. Long pants and long sleeved shirts are best for protection from plants & insects, and are required in some
classes. For comfort and safety, do not wear sandals. Flies & mosquitoes will not be as annoying if you wear socks, and hiking and exploring will be easier in shoes that tie.
Bring a cap, backpack and non-toxic, non-aerosol bug repellent, such as Avon Skin So Soft.

Financial Need Scholarships
A limited number of scholarships are available through the generosity of Sun Foundation members & community businesses for students with verifiable financial
need. Need can be verified by teachers, scout leaders, church leaders or any adult or parent who knows of a childs interest in ASIW but is unable to attend because of financial considerations. Students should fill out the registration form & send it with a note or recommendation.

Adults who are interested in attending may call or write on their own behalf.

ASIW would not be possible without volunteers: they SHINE. We need teaching assistants, evaluators, nurses, & people to help with various duties before, during & after ASIW.  Adult teaching assistant volunteers receive a $50 deduction for one of their children and a free limited edition, ASIW t-shirt. A limited number of teen volunteers ages 15 and up are needed. Contact Sharon Obery, 309-251-2819 or email to get information about volunteering.

Our students come from many central Illinois communities. Bus service may be provided from Peoria, Metamora, & Germantown Hills. We can also share contact information for carpooling with your permission.

Please indicate interest in either of these options where indicated on the registration form.

First Aid & Insurance
Health forms should be sent in with registration forms. A nurse and/or a resident EMT will administer minor first aid. In the event serious medical attention is needed,
the emergency number listed on your registration form will be called. Please be sure to give a number for a responsible party. The Sun Foundation does not provide
insurance for coverage of medical expenses.

Please advise us when you register if the student has special needs.

NOTE: Parents may attend the same class with their student at no charge, but materials can only be provided to those actually registered for the class.

Friday Evening-Come Celebrate with us

Family, friends & the community are invited to the Sun Foundation Center on the Friday ending Art and Science in the Woods week to celebrate our week of sharing & learning. Bring a picnic dinner (blanket
or lawn chairs are a good idea) & enjoy music in the woods from 5 to 6 PM. At 6:00 classes will begin exhibits, demonstrations, and performances that exemplify the
work they have concentrated on during the week. With written permission from a responsible adult, students may remain at the Sun Foundation Friday Only, and be
picked up by parents at 5 on Friday. During this time special activities will be provided.
Friday Silent Auction to Benefit Art & Science in the Woods
Bidding from 9 am to 5:45 pm on Friday. The Auction is held in the Sun Foundation Center. Auction pieces are displayed in the pavilion & are marked for
silent bidding. Works by artists and scientists, students, & friends of the Sun Foundation are available for purchase.
The Auction results are announced at 6 pm outside the pavilion.

Lost & Found Policy
Check the Pavilion Lost & Found Box each day. Items will be held following the program for up to 2 weeks and then donated to the Goodwill.


Daily Schedule

8:30 – 8:45 Registration for Monday only
8:45 to 9:00 Morning Major class grouping at pavilion
9 to 11:45 Major Class (Everyday)
11:45 to 12:15 Lunch with Major class (Everyday)
12:15 to 12:30 Minor class grouping at pavilion
12:30 – 3:00 Minor class (Different class each afternoon, Mon. thru Thurs.-Friday afternoon is spent with Major class)

“Friday Celebration Schedule”
For families, friends, & the public

9 AM to 6 PM Silent Auction bidding in the Pavilion
3 to 5 PM Student activities for students staying for the evening program

“Responsible adults” must pick-up students at Sun Foundation Pavilion no
later than 5 PM

5 to 6 PM Picnic and Silent Auction

6 PM Performances & Exhibits & Auction results


Contributions & Sponsorships Received as of January 1, 2014

Program Sponsors
Blue Heron Farm
Bob, Joan and Brett Ericksen
Caterpillar Foundation
Community Foundation of Central Illinois
David Trachtenbarg & Joyce Blumenshine
Dick Blick
Dixons Fisheries
Drop Zone
Illinois Arts Council a state agency
Integrated Marketing
James Porter
John & Kimberly Salmon
Kelly Sauder Rupiper Equip
Kelly, Sauder And Ruppier
Lacon Subway
Meta Tec
Meta Tec, Inc.
Morton Dental Center
Muir Omni Graphics
Naturally Yours
Nick and Willy’s Pizza
Olive Garden
Root Brothers Manuf. and Supply Co.
Sharon Obery

Class Sponsors
Apace Architects
Bob and Joan Ericksen
Bushwacker Ltd
David & Rita Ann Suffern
Dr. Dina Lunken, D.D.S., P.C.
Essential Wellness
Germantown Hills Animal Hospital
Illinois American Water
Jim & Mary Morrissette
Presley’s Outdoors LLC
Rita Ann Suffern
Roger & Jane Gabrielse

1/2 Class Sponsors
Bill & Barb Lervaag
Daniel Angot & Teresa Lewis
Dr. Kim Wickwire
Greet Princen
Gregg’s Florist
Jay & Mary Jo Rowley
Jeff & Rosanne Nau
Midwest Materials

FINANCIAL NEED Scholarship Sponsors

Born Paint Company
Community Foundation of Central Illinois Women’s Fund
Daniel & Kathy Coyle
ExxonMobil Environmental Services
Laure J. Adams
Marlene Miller
Peoria Academy of Science
Ruby K. Worner Trust/PNC
Charitable Trust Grant
Stan & Willa Ulrich

Program Supporters
Alan & Debra Stockner
Bill & Lisa Koenig
Bill, Debbie, Katie & Maddie Pierce
Butch & Sharon McClellan
Connie Randall
Dave Holloway
Donald W. & Debera E. White
Erin Morse
Eugene Holmes
Heartland Bank & Trust Company
J. Roger & Donna Weber
Jennifer & Jason Hunt
Jennifer Dommick
John & Tamara Howerton
Kim’s Academy of Dance, Inc.
Leeway Ceramic Tile, Inc.
Linda Gehrig
Marlene Miller
Martin Brothers Equipment
Mary Jean Bowman
Midwest Firearms Company, Inc.
Mike & Lori Gudat
Peter Alahi & Susannah Dintzie
Rebecca & Gene Doubleday
Steve & Gwen Krause
Steven & Nancy Jones
Tom & Shair Malson
Wenona Health Center
Wenona Junior Woman’s Club
William & Bonnie Claudnic
Zobrist/Scheirer Insurance Agency

Art & Science in the Woods Staff

Program Coordinator……………Sharon Obery
Development Director…. Joan Root Ericksen
Executive Assistants ………………. Katy Watson, Danielle Kreie
Technical Coordinators ………. Jason Bowling, Will Crotz

Assistant Coordinators ………… Shari Malson, Libby Verkuilen
Artistic Director……………………..Bob Ericksen
Site/Program Dir./Naturalist..Brett Root Ericksen

 Art & Science in the Woods Instructors 2015

Sharon Bladholm

Sharon has pursued her singular vision with a variety of disciplines, including cast glass, bronze, and ceramic in the sculptural realm, plus printmaking and works on paper. For over 30 years she has explored the intersections of art, science, conservation and the natural world. She has run Opal Glass Studios since 1983 and continues to complete many important commissions and show her work in galleries and museums, as well as creating public art installations at a wide variety of venues. She is currently working on a sculptural “Tree of Life” that will honor the profound contributions of Carl Woese to the scientific Universal Tree of Life based on his groundbreaking work with Archaea.

Charles Brown
Charles is a former Professor of Sociology and Psychology with 35 years experience in the performing arts; theatre, film, TV and radio. His favorite experiences were as a director and performer. Some of his favorite acting roles have been Jean Val Jean (Les Mis), Zach (A Chorus Line), and Pontius Pilate (JC Superstar). Levi Brown Levi has been a professional skateboarder and Element Skate Camp Instructor for the past decade. Born and raised outside of Phoenix, AZ – Levi has developed one of the most recognizably smooth styles in professional skateboarding today. Levi has visited almost every major city in the world, but feels most comfortable in nature. Now living in Long Beach, CA – Levi is pivotal in the mentorship of young minds through the Elemental Awareness Foundation.

Tom Brown III
Tom has been a practitioner and teacher of primitive technology, tracking and nature observation since he has been able to walk. He was trained by his father, Tom Brown Jr., founder of the world-renowned Tracker School. He taught at the Tracker School from 2003 to 2009. He now combines his naturalist and life experiences at his own school in the Cincinnati area and travels the world seeking to educate people in the ways of our ancestors, passing down the skills that were at the forefront of their lives.

Dylan Christopher
Dylan has been an avid skateboarder, wilderness enthusiast and adventurer for most of his life. Hailing from Oakland, CA, Dylan has traveled the world by way of his skateboard. In the past decade he has gone from camper to instructor at Element Skate Camp and has been on numerous skateboard tours with top professional athletes. When Dylan is off the board, he expresses his creativity through a myriad of artistic expression including photography, painting and handcrafted goods.

Douglas DePauw
BS, ISU, Art Ed & Studio Art. Doug is a second generation, professional fine arts printmaker. He studied and apprenticed with his father, Master Printer Robert DePauw. Currently, Doug has his own studio near Metamora, IL. Emily Dawson Emily has been a science and special education teacher for over 10 years. With a BS, NIU and MS Ed (in progress from Bradley,) she currently teaches Jr. High Science and Special Ed at Riverview Grade School. Emily loves outdoor education and environmental issues. She has built a little over 2 acres of outdoor education space at Riverview and has installed a wind turbine to produce electricity for the school.

Andy Dicker
Andy is a long time skateboarder and Element Skate Camp staff member. His leadership landed him the role as Camp Director in 2012. Andy has been inspiring both staff and campers to be their best selves on and off the skateboard. In addition to his love for skateboarding, Andy enjoys painting, drawing, surfing, zine making, redvines and sitting well.

Chad Dunn
Chad is a musician and instrument builder. He has been playing drums ever since the choir director made that funny face when Chad was singing. Over 30 years of playing, collecting experiences and instruments scattered across the globe, he continues to make people sport that funny face.

Ella Brown Dunn
Ella Brown Dunn is a graduate of the University of Illinois Fine Arts department. She has spent the last 16 years teaching artists of all ages and assisting in gallery exhibits, as well as showing her own work in various galleries and private collections. Ella sits on the Advancement Council Board at the Krannert Center for the performing Arts at the University of Illinois. She currently heads the Fine Arts Department for Next Generation Primary School in Champaign, IL, sharing her love of the arta with students from K-8. Mrs. Dunn resides in Champaign with her husband Chad and their daughter Zoe.

Sue Fischbach
Sue graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Special Education. Recently she went back to school and received a certificate in Sign Language Interpreting from Illinois Central College. Sue is a Mom, Girl Scout leader and science lover. She is currently living in Nashville, TN and working as a freelance Sign Language Interpreter.

Dan Fitzpatrick
For the past 11 years Dan has taught Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Anatomy, Environmental Science, Agriculture and Agricultural science at La Moille High School. He is a 5th generation farmer with experience growing commercial crops, livestock, bees, orchards, and maple sugar. Dan has also taught thousands of 5th-8th graders outdoor education at Lorado Taft field campus as part of the outdoor education masters program, is a master naturalist for the University of Illinois, and is part of Tom Brown Jr’s tracker school apprentice program.

Gretchen Fitzpatrick
Gretchen is a Henna Artist and art teacher. She has been practicing Henna at local fairs and events for 3 years, and teaching art for 15 years. As an artist, she enjoys exploring creativity in its many different forms and encouraging others to do the same. Gretchen gets much of her inspiration from nature.

Merrill Foster
Ph.D. Harvard University. Dr. Foster is a professor who discusses his subject as enthusiastically with an 8 year old as with his college students. Dr. Foster’s classes are always popular and fill up fast. He is a professor of Geology at Bradley University.

Ellen Herget
Ellen is an art instructor at East Peoria Community High School. She received her undergrad in Art Education at Eastern IL University and is currently working on her MA at Illinois State University. She loves creating projects with science and art. She is also a painting instructor at the Hive Studio and Gallery.

Jim Herget
Jim was a high school science teacher for 35 years. He has taken students on many science trips to Costa Rica where they explored the rainforest and learned the Cost Rican culture. He is currently a professor at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL.

Douglas Holmes
AA, Illinois Central College. Doug has been a herpetologist on staff at the Peoria Zoo for the last 27 years and a Sun Foundation instructor for over 30 years. Currently he is the president of the Central Illinois Herpetological Society and is actively involved on the boards of the Peoria Academy of Science and the Sun Foundation. He has worked with many endangered and threatened species. He is very interested in amphibian and turtle conservation. He feels it is environmentally important to get kids interested in the sciences and the natural world.

Mike Kershnar
Mike grew up in the Southern California world of skateboarding, surfing, graffiti, and primitive skills. He has done skateboard graphics for prominent youth subculture brands such as Element, Toy Machine, Volcom, Obey, Baker, and Ecko. Kershnar is also a huge lover of rock poster art and has done posters for bands such as Morrissey, Wilco, Midnite, Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead,) and the Beastie Boys.

Oba William King
“The Poetic Storyteller”, Oba is a favored & passionate presenter at educational, community and church events throughout the Midwest. Oba’s rich history includes a stint as a touring presenter for National Public Library, Bermuda Island; “Breaking Chains” a one-man show at Beatrice Community College in Nebraska; and an award nomination for the lead role in Dracula at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago. Oba encourages students to make positive choices to build self image, self esteem and communication skills. He shares the traditional art form of Storytelling as if it were a sacred gift. Oba is an alumnus of Western Stage Conservatory for Theater Arts in Salinas, CA. Learn more about Oba @ storyteller_chicago

Kathy Knapp
Kathy received her BSN from Illinois Wesleyan University. She has taught origami to people of all ages for over 25 years at libraries, schools, museums and an art gallery and with private students. Eight years ago she founded Origami Peoria Area. She is currently a master trainer for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, makes banners for her church, and is a member of Origami USA and the British Origami Society. Kathy is the 2010 recipient of the Ranana Benjamin teaching award from Origami USA. She has been part of a juried World Origami program for children. Kathy is a long time volunteer and supporter of the Sun Foundation.

Jimmy Lakota
Jimmy is a drummer, dancer, singer and speaker. His performances reflect the ever evolving native culture while preserving traditional ways. Jo Lakota Jo is a teacher, flute player, storyteller and artist.

Todd Larson
Todd is the Director and Co-Founder of the Elemental Awareness Foundation. Graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies, Todd has combines his passion of Skateboarding and Wilderness education into a career. The Elemental Awareness foundation was established in 2001 and has been connecting kids to nature through skateboarding for over a decade. In addition, Todd enjoys surfing, crafting, hiking, backpacking and riding his motorcycle.

Yona Lunken
Yona is a professional teacher and fundraiser. He has been teaching in various capacities all of his life. Lately he is teaching Hebrew & Prophets at the Hebrew Day School and Entrepreneurialism at Bradley University. He is head fundraiser for Peoria Hebrew Day School and Bradley Hillel. In his spare time Yona works on solar energy projects for his home and friends.

Adam Maas
Adam has taught in the Peoria area over the last 10 years, both at the CAC of Peoria and Lakeview Museum. He keeps a painting studio in Geneseo, IL. His degree is from Illinois State University and he was mentored by Preston Jackson and Jere Allen. Currently he is the IT director for a school in the northern part of the state while teaching and practicing painting on the weekends.

Tom McElroy
Tom has spent the greater part of his adult life studying indigenous/ hunter-gatherer cultures and teaching these skills to a myriad of students throughout the country. During his early 20’s, Tom was an instructor at the world-renowned Tracker School, from there he went on to obtain a double major from Rutgers University in Anthropology and Geography. Currently, he is pursuing a Masters degree in Policy and Human Rights of Indigenous cultures while also traveling to remote areas, learning from isolated tribal groups. Tom is an avid surfer, climber, potter, photographer, wilderness survivalist and tracker.

Therese Miller
Therese is a graduate of St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN, with a degree in Elementary Education. She is also a graduate of Science Concepts classes at Bradley University. She taught in parochial schools before staying home to raise four children. She has taught kindergarten in Germantown Hills for the past nine years.

Jim Morrissette
BA, University of Illinois. Jim has extensive experience as both a professional videographer & technical consultant. He was the principal videographer on the highly acclaimed Frontline documentary “The Farmer’s Wife” and “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City”. Currently, Jim is the Technical Director of Kartemquin Films in Chicago and teaches Digital Cinematography at Columbia College. Jim is a long time veteran of Art & Science in the Woods.

Fran Moss
Fran is an Emmy award winning singer, actress, storyteller and puppeteer who has taught thousands of children and adults across the U.S., including appearances at Carnegie Hall (for a First Lady) and seven years on CBS-TV’s children’s show The Magic Door. Fran is the co-creator and a faculty member of the Maggid Storytelling Workshop. As a Ready to Learn Educator with PBS TV, she has given hundreds of workshops and training sessions. Fran’s passion is to nurture creativity in others, and through the music of many cultures, inspire all to make the world a better place.

Sarah Nesbit
Sarah has exhibited her drawings and paintings all over the US and internationally. She received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her teaching experience includes Bradley University and the Peoria Art Guild, as well as Peoria Public Schools. Sarah is a member of Backspace Collective in Peoria, was a two-time Studio Resident at the Prairie Center of the Arts, and is a 3arts Award Recipient.

Dean Poignant
Dean works as a teacher and library media specialist for the Midland School district. He also practices law and farms with his father and children in the Lacon area.

Tim Presley
Tim says he likes to fish, fish, fish! He has fished all his life and deeply loves the sport. He sells fish bait for a living and talk’s fish every day of his life. He loves to share his expertise with folks young and old.

Paul Ritter
Paul says teaching is his life, not just a job. He has a passion for education and the environment that touches every aspect of his life, as well as his students. He has received many accolades for his interdisciplinary projects including 11 major awards from 3 different governors of Illinois. In 2012, Paul was named the National Environmental Science Teacher of the Year. His Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program was named the number one student environmental program in the US and the number three program in the world. He dedicates his life to teaching others the importance of finding a passion and sharing it with others.

Luke Scalise
Luke is a strength coach, stone mason, and wilderness guide. He has been on a lifelong journey to explore the workings of mind and body through movement, environment, sport and work. He draws his training from a childhood of New England woodlands, Wyoming expansive plains, and multiple martial arts. He was a collegiate decathlete before heading west and exploring the Rocky Mountains. At 23, he was the youngest strength coach in the state of Colorado with over 100 athletes at Emergent Fitness, CO. Currently he’s working animal conservation with cheetahs and wild dogs in Africa and leads jungle trips tracking jaguars in Cost Rica.

Lorraine Schwass
Lorraine has worked as a school counselor for 35 years and is currently at Peoria Notre Dame High School. She learned to make jewelry for fun and to be creative. Lorraine is currently the President of the Sun Foundation Board of Directors.

Dennis Sparr
BS. Eastern Illinois University. Retired teacher of 35 years (elementary science). Dennis is an outdoor enthusiast assisting with the Creek Walk for Conservation Camp at Lake Thunderbird in IL. He continues working for conservation practice as past President of the Putnam County Conservation Board of Trustees. Dennis participates in IVCC’s summer program, Outdoor ED’Venture, as rocketry instructor and is also Judge and Launch Supervisor for the Marshall-Putnam 4H Fair Aerospace division.

Wayne Talbot
A graduate in environmental science, Wayne has experience in the creation and funding of public and community mass participation projects. After graduation, he worked to develop partnerships between academic, commercial & voluntary organizations as the national Education Officer for Wildlife Watch before working on UN projects. He established WTA Education Service in 1997 with Janet Sackman. Wayne is an experienced facilitator, trainer, author and program builder. He has most recently been working with the United Nations Environment Program investigating how to strengthen young people’s participation in UN sustainability initiatives in Europe.

Jody Tockes
Jody owns the Hive Studio & Gallery on Peoria’s riverfront, and has taught for 30 years in both Districts 150 and 309. She received her BS from Bradley University and her Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Olivet Nazarene. She enjoys creating art with her children and grandchildren, and working with students of all ages – preschool through adult.

Katie VerKuilen
Katie is an undergraduate Fine Art major studying at Western Illinois University. She has been interested in art her entire life and has attended ASIW for the last 11 years, teaching her first minor class in 2014. Even though she has experience working in several mediums, she says her heart is in drawing.

Michael Wiant
Michael is the Director of the Illinois State Museum at Dickson Mounds. He received a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in anthropology. An archaeologist, Wiant has explored the long history of Native Americans in the Illinois River basin for more than 40 years. He shares his insights on the subject through public lectures, teaching and publication. His research interests range from stone tool technology to changes in the landscape of Illinois.

Travis Wilcoxen
Dr. Travis Wilcoxen is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Travis is also the Chair of the Zoology Division of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences and an executive board member of the Illinois Raptor Center. He studies the interaction of ecology, physiology and behavior of birds and amphibians. Travis earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Eureka College and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Memphis.

Guest Artist

Preston Jackson – Guest Artist

MFA University of Illinois. Recipient of the State of Illinois Lincoln Award. Nationally exhibited sculptor and professional musician. Chairman of Sculpture Department, Art Institute of Chicago. Sun Foundation Board Member and Arts Advisor.