Core Faculty

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Betzy Bancroft, RH(AHG)

As core faculty and co-founder, Betzy contributed to the development of much of the curriculum offered at VCIH. Currently, she teaches primarily in the Family Herbalist and Clinical Herbalist programs, while directing the Roots Apprenticeship program.

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1: Food as Medicine*, Energetic Systems*, Herbal Therapeutics I, Herbal Skills Practicum, Exploring the Medicinal Landscape, Materia Medica I

Clinical Program Year 2: Nutrition and Supplementation*, Advanced Herbal Preparations*, Ethics and Legal Considerations, Pathophysiology I, Herbal Therapeutics II, Pharmacology and Formulation, Field Experience, Materia Medica II, Intro to Clinic/Observation & Round table

Clinical Program Year 3: Community Teaching Practicum*, Pathophysiology II, Herbal Therapeutics III, Materia Medica III, Clinical Round Table, and Supervised Clinical Practicum

*Denotes course taught primarily by Betzy

Betzy is a teacher, clinical herbalist, gardener, craftsperson and environmentalist who’s had a deep appreciation for the magic of plants since childhood. As VCIH co-director and core faculty, Betzy provides the earth element to the organization’s staff. Plants are truly her friends, and she feels ever inspired by the natural world—all its varied beings and the amazing interconnections and beauty that make up the great web of life. Read More...

In 1987 she began formal study at Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine (now David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies) and went on to teach herbal pharmacy, field botany and other subjects as an assistant instructor at the school. Lucky to be in the only class of David’s that continued for 3 years, Betzy went on to complete two graduate courses in clinical herbalism with him, as well.

Still an avid student, she has taught classes in herbal medicine, wild edible plants and the medicinal uses of food throughout the Northeast for over two decades, including major conferences such as Northeast Organic Farming Association, Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Conference, the American Herbalists Guild Symposia and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. Betzy was a part time instructor at the Tracker School for 7 years, specializing in edible wild plants and the physical languages of plants. Teaching there enabled her to take many classes in primitive skills, and she happily maintains connection to that community by teaching at the ROOTS School Rendezvous.

Betzy currently serves on the United Plant Savers’ Advisory Board. Her experience also includes over a decade in the herbal product industry as staff herbalist and general manager for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc., a manufacturer of quality herbal extracts and other herbal products. Her favorite tasks at H&A were working with growers and the herbs they sent, and teaching workshops for natural food store personnel and customers.

Working at H&A made it possible for Betzy to attend numerous herb conferences. She’s also taken weekend or multi-weekend courses with a number of respected herbalists, including Amanda McQuade-Crawford and the late William LeSassier, two teachers who have particularly inspired her.

Practicing in the Western energetic tradition of herbal medicine, Betzy has been influenced by the Eclectic and other botanic physicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries in this country, and deeper back to the traditions of Europe. Her focus is on the common threads between all ancient medical systems, which ultimately lead to Nature itself–the four basic elements and the qualities intrinsic to them. Helping students and clients recognize the Nature of herbs, peoples’ constitutions and imbalances is a key part of her approach.

Betzy loves to introduce others to her green friends, to share the herbal wisdom she feels very blessed to have learned. Her goal is to help students and clients understand the plants’ “personalities” and relate to them as fellow living beings and guides to better health.

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Larken Bunce, MS

As core faculty and co-founder, Larken contributed to the development of much of the curriculum offered at VCIH. Currently, she teaches primarily in the Clinical Herbalist program, while directing the Family and Clinical Herbalist programs.

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1:  Exploring the Medicinal Landscape, Materia Medica I, Herbal Therapeutics I, Herbal Skills Practicum

Clinical Program Year 2:  Applied Energetics*, Herbal Safety*,  Practitioner Skills*, Intro to Clinic/Observation & Round table*, Ethics and Legal Considerations, Pathophysiology I, Herbal Therapeutics II, Field Experience, Materia Medica II

Clinical Program Year 3: Business Development*, Pathophysiology II, Herbal Therapeutics III, Materia Medica III, Clinical Round Table, and Supervised Clinical Practicum

*Denotes course taught primarily by Larken

Larken is a clinical herbalist, educator, gardener, writer, and photographer deeply inspired by a life-long love affair with plants. Her approach to herbal medicine is equally rooted in science and spirit, novel practice and tradition, clinic and garden, reflecting her diverse experiences over 20 years in the field. Her work is primarily informed by Western herbal medicine, classical Chinese medicine, whole-food nutrition, mind-body and narrative medicines, and social justice advocacy. Larken is passionate about accessible and culturally competent care, bridging traditional medical systems with biomedical sciences, and restoring Nature to culture through herbal medicine. Read More...

Her work is rooted in the premise that the heart of healing lies in remembering that we belong to each other and to the land. In all she does, Larken hopes to increase awareness of the capacity of not only medicinal plants, but of all nature and wildness, to sustain and heal.

In addition to working with clients in VCIH’s community clinic, Larken’s passion is sharing her craft through education. As founding co-director and core faculty at VCIH, she developed the comprehensive curriculum together with Guido and Betzy, and continues to think about and experiment with new methods to inspire the combination of rigorous critical inquiry and joyful exploration that herbalism calls for. She is interested in education as necessarily life-long and transformative, and views learning and healing as parallel endeavors of discovery.

In addition to her roles at VCIH, Larken served for seven years as faculty in the Health Arts and Sciences (HAS) program at Goddard College, where she worked with students passionate about various herbal traditions, nutrition, agriculture, social and environmental justice, deep ecology, and radical public health. She continues to guest lecture and advise in the HAS program and is a recurring lecturer in the nursing programs at the University of Vermont. She teaches widely at national conferences and has served as faculty for numerous other clinical herbal programs. She also proudly serves on the advisory board of Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US), an educational and advocacy organization working towards a healthcare paradigm of wellness, prevention, patient empowerment, and self-care.

Larken has written for various publications and was previously a regular columnist for UnifiedHealth, a practitioner’s journal devoted to renewing consciousness in medicine.

Her education includes a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts) and a Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College. Larken holds certificates in Zen Shiatsu and Swedish/Esalen Massage from the Heartwood Institute and in using Teishin (acupressure) for pain and stress from the Barefoot Doctor Institute. She has also studied mind-body skills at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC and is currently completing certification in Somatic Experiencing, based on the trauma resolution work of Dr. Peter Levine.

You’ll find Larken happiest on an afternoon spent in a field with a harvest basket, a blue sky, and the sun on her face or kneeling in the dirt meeting a new plant. She lives on a ridge in Middlesex with her animals, messy perennial gardens, and similarly green-thumbed sweetheart. Close

Adjunct Faculty

Bio PicJoann Darling

Courses Taught:

Roots Apprenticeship: Medicine-Making, Garden Practicum

Joann is a native Vermonter living in Barre, in the homestead where she grew up and today practices and teaches skills in traditional arts. She has been connected to the land of Vermont for generations, closely tied to the plants, animals and people through the seasons. Her knowledge and wisdom includes the myriad ways of knowing the plants, from flower growing and arrangements to dyeing, felting, weaving and growing flax for fibre.  Joann has been growing medicinal plants for many years, opening her nursery and flower farm, Gardens of Seven Gables in 1994. Currently, Joann is VCIH’s garden manager. A real down-­to-­earth entrepreneur, she also owns a soap company, Green Sylk Soap Company. Read More...

As an apprentice at the Marshfield School of Weaving, Joann received a grant from the Vermont Folklife Center to document the process of growing flax and processing it all the way through to a piece of woven cloth. In 2009 Joann was  the lead gardener of  The Apple Corps, the group that planted the first vegetable garden on a Statehouse lawn.  She has taught Herb Camp for children at the Two Rivers Farm, and Gardens for Learning, a Foods Work program, at a low income housing site in Barre, Vt.

Joann’s love for teaching about the natural world inspired her study in interpretation, and in 2012 she successfully completed her certification as an Interpretive Guide, through the National Association for Interpretation.

Joann has studied with Rosemary Gladstar where she successfully completed a teacher training program.  She has taught at the International Herb Symposium, New England Women’s Herbal Conference, The Vermont Sheep and Wool Expo and in the community on subjects ranging from seed and plant starting,  natural dyes for wool, to natural hair care. Joann currently holds a first degree in Reiki and attended VCIH in 2011, successfully completing the Family Herbalist training program.

Her experience brings her gratitude for the abundance that Mother Earth provides us if we pay attention to her teachings and circulate it in the community in a generous way. Close

Iris Gage, RH(AHG)

Courses taught:

Clinical Program Year 3: Supervised Clinical Practicum, Clinical Round Table

Iris is a graduate of VCIH’s three year clinical training program.  She is also the owner of Grian Herbs Apothecary, central Vermont’s source for bulk herbs, herbal supplies, and holistic health information, where she serves as an herbal consultant and manufacturer of herbal products.

K. Henningsen_VCIH Headshot

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, E-RYT, IYT

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1: Holistic Physiology*, Herbal Therapeutics I, Materia Medica I

Clinical Program Year 2: Research Skills*Ethics and Legal Considerations, Pathophysiology I, Herbal Therapeutics II, Materia Medica II

Clinical Program Year 3: Materia Medica III

*Denotes course taught primarily by Kristin

Kristin is a clinical herbalist, yoga therapist, writer, and educator, who first fell in love with plants in the desert southwest. There she was inspired to complete her graduate work, researching the Ethnobotany of the region. In addition to studying Native American herbal medicine in the Southwest, she has worked in academia and for non-profit organizations in the field of botanical research all over the country. Read More...

Her passion has always been bringing this medicine to the people, however, integrating Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Ayurvedic practices to empower those who are seeking a healthier path. Although she has been inspired by many herbalists along the way, some of her primary teachers have included Phyllis Hogan, Michael Moore, & Michael and Lesley Tierra.

Currently she serves as faculty for Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences, teaching courses on Health and Wellness, and has maintained a private holistic healthcare practice for the past 10 years. As a registered yoga teacher and integrated yoga therapist, she utilizes yoga therapeutics and mind body techniques in her treatment plans as well. She has been researching, writing, and teaching about medicinal plants for over 15 years. Look for her wandering through the woods, kids and dogs in tow.

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Heather Irvine

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1: Advanced Herbal Actions and Basic Phytochemistry*, Materia Medica I

*Denotes course taught primarily by Heather

Heather is a graduate of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, Cornell University and the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She has since run her own for credit course “Herbs the Medicine Garden” for Johnson State College as well as many public workshops and she has begun presenting at national herbal conferences. You may know her from Giving Tree Botanicals her farmers market based business in Central Vermont. Her mission is to improve people’s understanding of botanical medicine from a scientific standpoint.

Guido Masé, RH(AHG)

As past core faculty and co-founder, Guido contributed to the development of much of the curriculum offered at VCIH. Currently, he teaches as an adjunct, primarily in the Clinical Herbalist program.

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1:  Natural Science*

Clinical Program Year 2:  Phamacology and Formulation*, Pathophysiology I, Herbal Therapeutics II, Materia Medica II

Clinical Program Year 3: Supervised Clinical Practicum

*Denotes course taught primarily by Guido

Guido is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, though his approach is eclectic and draws upon many influences. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. After traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996. Read More...

His experience includes founding and operating an herbal extract company focused on local harvesting and production; co-founding and co-directing a non-profit community herbal clinic; teaching herbal medicine to a variety of audiences ranging from the very young to herbal conference attendees, apprentices, and medical students; and working with clients one-on-one to discover ways to support and enhance health using whole plants and whole foods. Guido’s teaching style focuses on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology with a constant eye to the amazing beauty such study reveals: at any level, and in many different “languages”, herbs mirror people, the plant and animal kingdoms grew up together as complements. Such a relational awareness provides meaning and context, critical elements to understanding and also to healing.

At home, he spends time with his wife Anne and daughter Uli. He enjoys cooking and eating with family and friends, writing on topics in herbal medicine and human health, playing music, and experimenting with distillates and novel herbal formulae. Time alone is usually spent running on road and trail (often in the very early morning). Occasionally he will race a marathon. Guido works clinically and teaches as a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, and is a part of United Plant Savers and the American Botanical Council.

Guido serves as a faculty supervisor in our student clinic, while also teaching Natural Sciences, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics. Close

Julie Mitchell, RH (AHG), M.Sc.

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1:  Botany for the Herbalist*

Clinical Program Year 3: Skills for Complementary Professionals in the Western Medical Paradigm*, Supervised Clinical Practicum

*Denotes course taught primarily by Julie

Julie wears many different hats in the plant medicine world including gardener, teacher, health consultant, and plant medicine maker. Julieʼs interest in plants and her relationship with the green world began as an apprentice to a natural dyer and spinner in 1976. Her job was to gather plants for the large dye pots used in dying the spun wool. Learning how to identify plants and their diverse uses, led her to herbal medicine. It was the recognition of the interconnectedness–affinity or love with plants–that fueled further study into the ʻmedicineʼ offered. (Interconnect is a device used to connect two things together. Love is the device.) Read More...

Julie has been an avid gardener for over 30 years. She has taught plant medicine throughout Vermont, in informal settings, at grade schools, high schools, NOFA conferences and the New England Womenʼs Herbal Conference, giving courses ranging from making plant medicines to plant identification and more recently, Goethean plant studies. In more formal settings, she has taught university courses at Middlebury College, along with teaching physical exam skills and interpersonal skills at the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. She has a consultation practice in Bristol VT focusing on facilitating health through medicine as food, herbs and lifestyle practices. She has run a home apothecary, Eos Botanicals, since 1991 providing quality herbal tinctures to her community in Addison County.

She graduated in 2003 with a BSc from the College of Phytotherapy, University of Wales, was a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the U.K. for two years and became a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild in 2003. She received her MSc, with honors, in Herbal Medicine from the University of Wales in 2008. Julie teaches a wide variety of subjects in the VCIH curriculum, including Botany, Therapeutics, Materia Medica, and Western Tools for the Herbalist, and and serves as a supervisor in VCIH’s student clinic. Close

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Ilana Sobo 

Courses taught:

Roots Apprenticeship: Herbalists’ Worldview, Home Remedies for Self-care, Medicine-Making, Garden Practicum

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1:  Herbal Skills Practicum, Herbal Therapeutics I, Materia Medica I

Clinical Program Year 2:  Applied Energetics, Materia Medica II

Clinical Program Year 3: Materia Medica III

Ilana is an herbalist, Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga instructor and fine artist. Having spent over 17 years in the healing arts, she has worked with and apprenticed for several of the pioneers in botanical medicine and Ayurveda in the US.  Her greatest passion is to help steward the plants of Gaia and do her part to share the love, magic, and healing gifts the natural world brings forth to share. She feels it is a great honor to be able to be an instructor and help inspire burgeoning herbalists as they fall in love with the plant world.  Read More...

Her time at the Ayurvedic Institute, in particular, working for and studying with Dr. Vasant Lad was greatly formative and has helped Ilana create beautiful, simple, and effective Ayurvedic tools to offer clients and students on their journey towards balanced living and radiant wellness. Ilana regularly produces fine art floral photography, compounds tinctures, salves, essential oil blends, teas and flower essences for her local community. Her healing project, Shakti Botanica, is an offering in celebration of the divine feminine and her endless gifts of creative expression, beauty, and healing. Close

NNetta Mae Walshetta Mae Walsh

Courses taught:

Herbal Roots Apprenticeship: Herbalists’ Worldview, Home Remedies for Self-care, Medicine-Making, Garden Practicum
Netta Mae is a clinical herbalist, activist, teacher, outdoor guide, and magic-maker.

The heart of her work is to inspire wonder in others; wonder for the beauty of the world around us, wonder for the magic in the faces and souls of our communities, and wonder for the power and ultimate perfection within each and every one of us. Netta believes that truly listening and loving are some of the most powerful ways to effect change. She is dedicated to continue learning and growing herself as well as to be a part of that process in others. She sees her work as a community herbalist as being an integral part of creating sustainable and resilient communities that are not dependent upon capitalist and patriarchal systems of oppression. Read More...

Netta Mae graduated from the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in 2015 and has formally studied western herbalism for the last 6 years. She is also a member of the International Cupping Therapy Association and loves how plant medicine and cupping work so well together. Netta is committed to bringing clients high quality herbal consultations and formulas specifically designed to meet their individual needs according to their physiological and energetic patterns for sliding scale and affordable rates. She works hard to be accessible to all people, especially teens and youth, queer and trans* folks, families, and folks who typically don’t have access to alternative healing modalities that are not covered by insurance. She is constantly working on what it means to be an ally through healing work, especially in the occupied territories of North America. Close

Guest Faculty

Laura Litchfield

Courses taught:

Family Program/Clinical Program Year 1: Herbal Therapeutics I, Materia Medica I

Laura is a clinical herbalist and educator and joined the directorial team at VCIH in 2013. She tends to the apothecary, finances and daily operations of the school and clinic, bringing extensive practical knowledge of taking care of people and things, both through her diverse work experience and from raising a family. She has been studying herbalism since 1998, including attendance at The California School of Herbal Studies and VCIH. Laura serves as adjunct faculty and works clinically with individuals in the professional clinic. She has a special interest in bringing awareness and knowledge of herbs and physiology to the next generation as well as reintroducing herbal remedies into the family kitchen.

Lisa OlsonIMG_0286

Courses taught:

Clinical Program Year 2: Applied Energetics, Materia Medica II

Always intrigued by plants, Lisa first studied plant evolution and ecology at the University of Vermont and then became increasingly interested in herbalism, attending Herb Pharm’s Herbaculture internship and graduating from VCIH’s clinical herbalist program. Lisa is also a certified Kripalu yoga teacher and currently holds classes in Plainfield and Barre, Vermont.