"Wildman" in the classroom
"No School Year At Riverdale High School Is Complete Without An Appearance By 'Wildman' Steve Brill" —Mr. Weatherbee, Principal
Bais Yaakov Academy
124-50 Metropolitan Ave.
Kew Gardens, NY, 11415
Dear Mr. Brill,
Thank you for a memorable trip yesterday. I was drawn in to the experience by your passion for what you do, and the fascinating facts you shared with us. Today the girls made pages to add to their science scrapbooks filled with detailed information and drawings, so I know you made an impression on them, too. The sixth grade teachers shared our feelings that this was a special learning opportunity for our students. Success all around!
Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School
91-30 Metropolitan Ave.
Forest Hills, NY, 11375
Dear "Wildman" Steve Brill,
My class from Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School has a wonderful time with you in Forest Park. The students were so engaged and excited about all of the new information you presented to them. Thank you for teaching us all wonderful things—we look forward to having you back in Queens soon!
PS—Here are some thank you notes from my students.
Caroline E. Conese
Development Coordinator, Special Events
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Thank you so much for taking part in this year’s Family Party! The event was a huge success, and we couldn’t have done it without Wildman Steve Brill. Our guests raved about your table - all of the kids enjoyed learning from you. We hope you enjoyed being a part of the party as well! Thank you again – it was truly a pleasure working with you!
Dear Mr. Brill,
I went on your tour yesterday, October 2nd.
The more I thought about the tour, the more meaningful it became, especially the stray comments you made about botany.
Your wide knowledge of the subject was apparent and effortless.
It is not everyone who can make a difficult and potentially dry subject like botany both comprehensible and compelling.
You managed to do both.
Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering
425 W 123rd St.
New York, NY 10027
Dear Wildman Steve Brill
I would like to thank you for teaching my class about the different edible plants in the park. There were so many unique plants in the park that I never knew its significance. It was amazing that there were so many medical plants in the field that can help wounds. Jewelweed is an example. I smudged some smashed juice on my mosquito bites from camping the previous two weeks.
Another thing I found interesting was the pineapple weed, It was amazing how things can evolve so much into something completely different. It smells like pineapple!! Yum!
The mulberry we collected were also so yummy & delicious. It was so juicy. If it weren't for you, I would have never tasted mulberry!
April Weller, CNA
400 Starr Ridge Rd.
Brewster, NY 10509
To Anyone Interested in Foraging:
I wanted to learn about foraging, and decided to try to attend every tour, or almost every tour that “Wildman” Steve Brill led, in one season; and did go on just about every walk in 2009, minus two or three..
“Wildman” Steve Brill is very knowledgeable about wild plants, and about preparing healthy food in a tasty way. He is also very generous with his knowledge, and shares many stories about the plants, and cooking information. I learned a lot, including about mushrooms.
“Wildman” really likes to engage children that are on the tours, and makes sure that each one is smiling by the time the tour is at least midway through. By the end of the walk, there is always a very nice feeling of camaraderie amongst the participants, and “Wildman’s” samples of his delicious culinary creations are always enjoyed.
I recommend “Wildman” Steve Brill’s wild walks to anyone wanting to learn about plants, or anyone interested in having a fun time with family in nature, very highly; and I am grateful that I had the occasion to gain the understanding that I gained.
Hello fellow foragers...long-time reader, first time posting. For many summers, I have enjoyed picking wineberries and blackberries in MD, often freezing them and making preserves. A couple of years ago, I came upon a copy of Samuel Thayer's book while visiting my brother and didn't end up returning it to him for a full year. I was hooked on the idea of foraging, but still nervous about consuming anything without seeing it first identified by an expert in the field.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending one of "Wildman" Steve Brill's tours in Central Park. I'll admit I didn't think there would be a whole lot of "wild edibles" in the middle of NYC but was totally delighted with the diversity. Steve's tour was first informative, but also entertainingósomething of a cross between a educational field trip and a comedy show. We identified (and sampled many of the following:) wood sorrel, poor man's pepper, yellow watercress, field garlic, wild lettuce, linden, black birch, sassafras, honewort, jewelweed, black raspberries, blackberries, juneberries and burdock root. During our lunch break, he shared with us vegan mulberry ice cream and curried sunflower seeds (made from his awesome Wild Vegetarian cookbook.) He shared scientific research, properties of the plants and how they can be used both as food and medicine. I feel much more confident in my identification skills and made a salad of daylily petals, wood sorrel, dandelion and watercress for dinner yesterday. We even tossed in some bulblets from the top of a wild onion flower. Delicious!
It's been some time, and the fog of the school year has finally lifted. Apologies for not sending a note along sooner. I want to thank you for all you shared with us at Willard School. My students are exploring the garden with new eyes, and their awareness for plants is obviously growing. Some were playing the Brillophone on the last day of school, so they're probably still playing it to this day! I'll keep in touch about future possibilities. The plant knowledge is so important.
After the assembly our discussions revolved around the excitement of the natural world. My students were particularly taken by the milk sickness story and white snakeroot. Personally, your description of how medicine men and women learn about herbs is a powerful and exciting lesson to hear. The students were engaged and your passion is a wonderful gift. Thanks.Y´ Also, I tried some of the cherries on our trees outsideóthey come in small clusters and are quite bitter. I've found a Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus) listed in my tree field guides. I'm thinking this could be the tree!
Thanks again Steve, I'll be in touch about possible visits next year and hope to see you at an upcoming tour this summer or fall.
Review of a talk at the Russell Library,
123 Broad St., Middletown, CT
April 23, 2009
We arrived at Steveís lecture on Wildwoodís to find a packed house, with Steve scurrying to get the show on the road. I barely had a chance to say a quick hello as folks flocked to the small tables he had set up. There was a feeling of excitement in the air as we were seated and waiting for the Steve to begin.
My son and I soon found ourselves laughing heartily along with the entire room as Steve began his talk. As I looked around the room and saw all the smiling faces I was impressed by Steve's ability to capture the attention of so many dissimilar people. There were both young and old in attendance from a wide range of classes. The room was packed and there were even folks sitting on the floor.
This was no boring professor expounding the virtues of plants; here was an entertainer, a comedian with a broad knowledge of edible wild plants.
As the class proceeded time seemed to run very quickly as we were shown many specimens of edible plants and Steve answered several really good questions with well placed jokes and banter. My son and I enjoyed the lecture and both of us agreed that it was too short. Next time we promised one another we would get to know this funny fellow, and allow him to know how much we loved his approach to teaching and sharing his knowledge.
St. Bernard's School
4 E 98 St. & 5th Ave
New York, NY 10029
Steve Brill has led several tours for our school, as well as given lectures. He has the remarkable ability to be entertaining to adults and very young children all in the same audience, no mean feat. He has a great fund of serious knowledge, as well, and a seemingly endless supply of wonderful stories.
NY Botanical Gardens
200 St. and Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10458
A Note of Appreciation
I wanted to thank you for mentoring the students in my Columbia University ethnobotany class over the past few years. As you know, the students must develop and implement an ethnobotany project in New York City, as part of their training in urban ethnobotany, and your knowledge of the urban environment is remarkable. Indeed, I donít know of any other city in the country that has the richness of culture and biodiversity as New York Cityóa great living laboratory to study the plant-people relationship. Your wonderful book, Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Places is a great source of information for my own wanderings in New York City, and I hope you will continue in your efforts to educate our community about the importance of plants in our lives. Even that most simple weed growing in the sidewalk has a purpose, and a history of use somewhere in the world. If we would all learn that lesson, the planet would be a much better place.
With all best wishes,
Michael J. Balick, Ph.D
Town School Library
540 East 76th Street
New York, NY 10021
(917) 432-3071 (Library)
Iíd like to thank you for the wonderful assemblies you did for our students last Friday. They were as informative as they were hilarious, and it was obvious that the kids were enthralled during every moment.
I think you've got a really good thing going valuable content, engaging presentation, great message and Iím delighted that it finally worked out for you to do the three programs for Town School.
On behalf of everyone here at Town, thanks so very much.
And best wishes in all of your future endeavors.
Cynthia R. Millman
I recently had the good fortune to go with "Wildman" Steve Brill on one of his legendary walks through New York City's Central Park. A good time was certainly had by all. About 20 people total went on the walk including Steve's precocious daughter Violet. I would venture to say that Violet knows more about wild edibles that 95% of the United States population at least, and she's only around 4 years old!
Violet in the Violets
Plants covered included Blackberry (Rubus sp.), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Epazote (Teloxys ambrosioides), Poor man's pepper (Lepidium virginicum), Virginia Jump seed (Tovara sp.) Plantain (Plantago sp.), Carnelian Cherry (Cornus mas), a type of June/Service Berry (Amelanchiar sp.) that ripens in the fall, Sweet/Black Birch (Betula lenta), Honewort (Cryptotaenia sp.) Common Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), and Devils Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)
I learned that wild black cherry has orange hairs on the base of the underside of the leaf, versus Chokecherry, which does not; that Plantain inspired the Johnson and Johnson brothers with it's healing properties and use as a band aide; that Carnelian cherries will ripen off the bush, That Spicebush leaves lose their flavor when dried; that Devil's Walking stick stems can be peeled and used like asparagus in the spring.
I also learned how a true showman and teacher can entertain and inform a diverse crowd while simultaneously perform the task of fatherhood in an incredibly inspiring and caring fashion. I wholeheartedly recommend you check out the experience if ever in NYC.
One plant I got to inform Steve about is called Sochane by the Cherokee (Rudbeckia laciniata). Incredible cooked green in my opinion. Are others familiar?
I've been foraging with the "Wildman" for about ten years, and I wholeheartedly endorse those plant walks. He introduced me to this passion, and I've been hooked since.
I've carried little Violet (and her stroller) through the woods on more than one occasion, and she certainly is everything you say.
(As a tribute to Steve's expertise and teaching,) I've been asked by the educational program director of the Mohonk Preserve to lead a wild edibles walk, as well as by others who also run wild edible programs. I still consider myself a novice, but I guess I'm finally at a level where I can share some of the knowledge I've gained.
Let me repeat your recommmendation that all those in the greater NYC area, including the surrounding counties and states, go to Steve "Wildman" Brill's website, and check out his prodigious schedule. (He does plant walks from March to December.)
(Note to Steve: I hope we haven't embarrassed you with this effusive praise, but surely you know that you've set many on this path, and I, for one, am grateful.)
Mahwah Public Library
100 Ridge Road
Mahwah, NJ 07430
Dear Mr. Brill:
I just wanted to thank you for coming to our library yesterday after having travelled so far. I have received such positive feedback from the teens as well as the adults and staff members who learned so much from your program. They especially liked going out and foraging.
Thank you again for providing us with a truly amazing and educational experience. We certainly plan to invite you back to our library, and will recommend your program to anyone that might ask us.
Denise A. Jukniewicz
Young Adult Librarian
Hope Community Center
107 East 104 St.
NY, NY 10029
Naturalist "Wildman" Steve Brill led East Harlem youth on an edible tour of Central Park. Over 20 youth and children from the East Harlem community and the 25th precinct Explorers Program learned about a variety of palatable fruits and plants that grow in the neighborhood. At first, begrudgingly, the kids atehandpicked mulberries (that are safe to eat) and black raspberries, and found they were delicious!
"Wildman" Steve also pointed out the plants that have medicinal value,Y´such as field garlic (for hypertension), sassafras, which can be used to make tea (excellent for detoxing and root beer), and common plantain, which can be used to for mosquito bites, burns, poison ivy and even acne.
The trip was both entertaining and educational for youth and adults. Hope Community recommendsY´ that children of all ages, well as squeamish adults who can serve as a wonderful conduit to many, attend "Wildman" Steve's nature tours.
Watch a slide show of this Central Park tour of 6/26/08.
High School for Math, Science, and Engineering
138 St. and Convent Ave.
NY, NY 10031
Thank you so much for giving your time to my students this past Sunday. Your tour gave way to a great conversation in class about plants and whole foods. Thanks again.
77 Marsh Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10314
I have been going to Wildman Steve Brill's forages since the 1980's and have found them to be very informative and fun. Wildman's insights to the history of wild food and its practical medical and recipe applications have inspired me and my students to live a healthier lifestyle.
606 Columbus Ave.
NY, NY, 10010
Thanks again for coming today, I've heard so many wonderful comments from other teachers (and the director), and I know that my students had a great time, because they were talking about you and your tour for the rest of the day. One child told me that he was "going to take his leaf samples up to [his] laboratory to examine them." Apparently, his lab also contains platypus eggs. Another child was astounded that dandelion petals are edible.
I copied your paper and sent everyone home with a copy, and we will do the mushroom spore art and pine needle tea tomorrow. Thanks for the tips!
Would you like me to email you photos from your tour with my class?
See you in July (we will be much more organized.)
Washington Montessori School
240 Litchfield Turnpike
New Preston, CT 06777
Dear Wildman Steve,
The elementary children at Washington Montessori School thoroughly enjoyed your visit in October. Your outdoor classes and information about edible plants have generated much excitement and interest. Recess teachers have observed children foraging for hickory nuts and black birch twigs. The hunt goes on! Your demonstrations of the preparations and preservation of the foods found on school property were appealingly impressionistic—perfect for these ages.
Thank you for inspiring us all with your knowledge and love for the wild plant life around us.
Central Park East I
1573 Madison Ave.
NY, NY 10029
What an incredible two days of trips we had with Wildman Steve Brill! Eating wild plants in Central Park! Just imagine the excitement of the children. Even the ones who were quite hesitant at first, really got into it when they saw their classmates digging in.
It was more than fun. They learned quickly that they had to use all their best observation skills to discriminate between similar looking plants. What did the leaves look like? What did the stem look like? And am I brave enough to try something new?
We lucked out in finding a huge chicken mushroomí. It was large enough to bring back to school and to cook it the next day to make a dish large enough for two classes! So many children who normally wouldn't eat new things, tried AND LIKED IT!
We also brought back gingko nuts to roast. Here too, once the stinky fruit was washed off and they were roasted, most kids really loved them.
Wildman Steve also shared lots of historical information about the uses of many of the plants by Native Americans and early colonialists. This too added to the value of the trip.
So, thank you, thank you. We couldnít have afforded to send the kids with a professional of Wildman Steve Brillís caliber without your funding.
Boy Scout Troop 10
South Providence, RI
I want to personally thank you for your wild plant seminar with Troop 10, South Providence. The impression you have left on me does not even begin to compare to the memories my scouts will carry with them for a lifetime.
You have inspired me to change my consumption patterns, and I'm confident that a couple of the scouts will remember you every time they open a bag of chips.
Bronx Community College Upward Bound
West 181 St. & University Ave.
Bronx, NY, 10453
Dear Mr. Brill:
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation for Mr. "Wildman" Steve Brill. Mr. Brill has introduced many Upward Bound students to the beauty of the world around us, how to properly protect our environment and the practical uses of our plants and natural resources. He presents an educational, hands-on learning experience for those who take advantage of his tours and various activities.
The Upward Bound program is funded by the United States Department of Education. The goal of the program is to motivate and assist low-income, first-generation college students to successfully graduate from secondary school, enroll in a postsecondary institution of their choice and graduate with at least a baccalaureate degree. To provide our participants with the skills necessary to accomplish this task the project provides: after-school tutorials; Saturday academic classes; college and cultural trips; personal/vocational/academic counseling; educational assessment and many more.
I was introduced to Mr. Brill over fifteen years ago, when it was not yet ìen vogueî to be concerned about the environment and the benefits that it yields. I was particularly interested in his presentation because the population of youth served by the Upward Bound program are low-income, first-generation inner-city kids. Rarely did they have the opportunity to tour the parks and search for edible plants and investigate the types of vegetation that grew in their midst and I was looking for a hands-on learning experience for my math and science group. I was a little skeptical because many of our students would not normally spend their leisure time performing such tasks and they were not used to such activities. Nevertheless, Wildman Steve was so enthusiastic and motivated that I decided to utilize his services and send my students on several of his tours.Y´They were an absolute success and more and more students wanted to tour with "Wildman" Steve.
Currently, my program is still contracted to work with Mr. Brill and I hope that we can continue to work together for many more years. His tours are very motivating, inspirational and a pleasure for my students who really enjoy his expertise and guidance.Y´The Bronx Community College Upward Bound students participated in a documentary that was made of Mr. Brill and his successful career. It was a pleasure to be a part of documenting the work of a man who truly enjoys his profession and shares his love for the environment with our youth. He remains refreshing, unique and presents an educational, hands-on learning experience for my students and many more who have participated in his programs.
Without reservation, I endorse Mr. ìWildmanî Steve Brill and wish him continued success.
Michelle A. Danvers Foust
Director, Upward Bound Program
Kerlin Summer Science Institute
249 St. and Independence Ave.
Bronx, NY 10471
(718) 549-3200, ext. 396
Dear Mr. Brill,
Thank you for your work with the Kerlin Summer Science Institute last week. Aside from the excessive heat, the teachers loved the weed walk we took together in Riverdale Park. Many found it quite inspiring. I hope that many of the teachers contact you in the upcoming year to work with their schools.
Your knowledge added so much to the content that we are providing for the teachers through this program. Hopefully they can take something away from the experience to share with many generations of students.
>Again, thank you!
School Partnerships Manager
Pound Ridge Garden Club
P.O. Box 136
Pound Ridge, NY 10576
May 23, 2005
Thank you so much for speaking to the Pound Ridge Garden Club. I've received so many comments on how much everyone enjoyed the "Wildman" experience.
On a personal note, we were eating out a few days after your talk, saw "ramps" on the menu, and ordered them—excellent! A great new discovery.
Good luck in your future endeavors. I'm certain some of us may be participating on some of them.
Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, Japan
Happy New Year Mr. Wildman Steve
I really enjoyed your [school] program in Central Park on September 22. There are many interesting ideas I would like to add to the field program at the natural history museum where I work in Japan. I will show your videos to our interpreters, because I feel our exhibitions are too difficult for children to enjoy. Thank you for letting me join your program.
I look forward to meeting with you again in New York. If you have a chance to visit the Kobe area, please let me know.
Hiroki Akazawa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Lab. of Nature & Environmental Science, University of Hyogo Prefecture
November 13, 2004
Hello, my name is Antoinette and I came across your website on a fluke. I was looking on craigslist.com for upcoming events in the area and saw a listing for a walking tour of Prospect Park. I continued to look and was brought to your website.
I am writing because I want you to know that when I was in the fifth grade (I am 28 now) you gave my class a walking tour of Forest Park. I remember it very distinctly as one of the coolest trips I was ever on. To this day when I am in the park, I notice the big bushy purple flowers that you had us eat and the tiny little yellow flowers that tasted like lemon. I just wanted to send you this email to let you know that I am so happy that you are still giving these tours and making memories for many more young people as you did for me. I hope to have the opportunity to join you on one of your upcoming tours in the near future.
Central Middle School
9 Indian Rock Lane
October 15, 2004
To whom it may concern,
"Wildman" Steve Brill came to our school last spring (2004) and led each of my seventh grade science classes on a mini-adventure to a nearby park. At first the children were skeptical of eating the various plants, but his comedic delivery put them at ease, and within minutes they were eager to try everything he suggested. Not only were they fascinated by his enthusiastic and knowledgeable presentation, they actively participated by answering his questions about the natural and social history of the area. The foraging experience allowed the children to make personal connections to nature and left them excited to share their new knowledge of the Brillophone and edible wild plants with others. Wildman's knowledge and spirit are a winning combination for middle school kids!
We are very much looking forward to having Wildman back this school year as part of our fall Nature Appreciation Day and hope that he will continue to be part of our annual event in the future.
"Wildman" Teaching CMS Students
Mohr's Explorers, LLC
640 Fort Washington Ave., #3C
NY, NY 10040
September 22, 2004
To Whom it May Concern:
I hired the "Wildman," Steve Brill to take one of my groups on a foraging tour of Central Park and was more thrilled with the results than I had even expected. The group of 14 kindergartens couldn't get enough. The boys learned about various edible plants and even got to taste a few, which they found to be extremely exciting. The "Wildman" told them some great, entertaining stories related to the things they were learning about and he quickly became like a favorite, long-lost uncle to the entire group. I could have gone home and I honestly don't think the kids would have noticed!
The Brillophone was particularly fun for the kids to listen to, and to this day, they are still trying to master their own version of the instrument.
I would highly recommend Steve for a birthday party, school group outing, or any of his other offerings that might suit your needs. You will be hard-pressed to find anyone with more expertise about Central Park, foraging and the environment, nor someone who can present the information in such a fun, energetic and passionate manner.
However, this is definitely not just for kids. I went on one of his weekend tours of Central Park and found it to be extremely interesting and educational. If you've never been, you must sign up for one of the "Wildman's" weekend tours - you're guaranteed to learn things about Central Park that have never even occurred to you before, and you will also have a great time. Steve will not only give you a new appreciation of nature, but any of his tours will also open your eyes to the many possibilities of our environment.
I challenge anyone to find a more knowledgeable and enthusiastic environmental educator than "Wildman" Steve Brill.
Camden County Library
Vogelson Regional Branch
203 Laurel Rd.
Voorhees, NJ 08043
September 21, 2004
Wildman Steve Brill was at the Camden County Library, Vogelson Regional Branch, in August 2004. What a great nature program that was! Over 60 children and adults attended. We are still talking about it!
Wildman Steve brought lots of backyard edibles and some non-edibles as well. The audience got to savor his delicacies through a lot of interaction between Wildman Steve and the kids! That always makes for a great program. And Wildman Steve really knew how to keep the kids attention! Mixing hands-on, jokes and stories with facts shows that Wildman Steve is a professional. Professional in his knowledge and in his performance.
I would highly recommend Wildman Steve. His visit is sure to be different, educational and highly entertaining!
Head of Childrenís Services
Irvington Elementary School
40 N. Broadway
Irvington, NY 10533
September 8, 2004
Our experience with Wildman Steve Brill was wonderful!
2 full days of continuous foraging sessions covering all classes from 2nd to 5th grades. Students are still talking, recognizing and using the wisdom shared with us by Wildman. At 5th grade commencement ceremonies, one student's favorite reflection on his academic year was his foraging session with Wildman.
Recess at school now often includes children looking, discussing and showing specimens of the Earth to the recess staff. We love the sessions. Teachers and students in lower grades requested inclusion into the program for next year. We hope to have Wildman at our school every year!
Earth Day Chairperson
Cub Scouts Pack 5
Church Street Elementary School
295 Church Street
White Plains, New York 10603
July 10, 2004
I wanted to write a thank you letter on behalf of the Pack 5 Cub Scouts and leaders at Church Street School. So many of the boys and parents came up to me afterwards and said, "Wildman was just great."
The boys were so enthralled and involved in the entire presentation and kept reminding us of the things you had taught them in your presentation. On our camping trip some of our scouts went around looking for some of the plants you had identified and taught them about. Others brought us samples and told us we had to "try them out first." "Remember," one said, "Wildman says to always try things out on an adult first." We all got a laugh.
The boys learned many things but there were a few important lessons that stuck with them. The first is the importance of the world around them and nature in particular. It is something that should not be mistreated. That came particularly clear on our camping trip after your presentation.The other thing they learned is if you have an interest in something, you should go learn about it and have fun doing it.
Your enthusiasm and passion for your field came through in your presentation and it spilled over to the scouts. My son has been talking about you ever since.
Pack 5 Den Leader
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111 St.
Corona, NY, 11368
718-699-0005 ext. 343
February 4, 2004
To Whom It May Concern:
Every year the New York Hall of Science visitors anticipate the appearance of naturalist ìWildmanî Steve Brill. Steve provides an engaging hands-on presentation on ecology in which visitors are able to see, feel and taste samples of various edible wild plants.
Steve continues to amaze visitors, year after year, by introducing new types of plants and encouraging visitors with his humor and strong knowledge of botany, to taste edible wild plants found in local parks. He is a fantastic educator with the ability to capture and intrigue the attention of any audience member from children to adults.
"Wildman" Steve Brill is one of the most knowledgeable naturalists and one of the most unique and entertaining presenters that we have featured at the New York Hall of Science. We will continue to request his appearance for many years.
Manager of Public Programs
195 South Greely Ave.
Chappaqua, NY 10514
Your tour of Gedney Park in Chappaqua this past Sunday was lots of fun. You appealed effortlessly to a wide range of ages and were remarkably erudite in a very entertaining way. And your enthusiasm is contagious—my daughters and I went home and made root beer and found wild carrots in our own back yard! Thanks for an enlightening afternoon.
[Note: the Chappaqua Library cosponsored the tour of Gedney Park.)
Junior Girl Scout Troop 299
Oakland, NJ 07436
Michele A. Maresca
Dear "Wildman" Steve,
Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to hike with you at the Croton Aqueduct on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2003. We appreciate the time you spent teaching us about the plant life in our area.
This will help us when we go camping and hiking in the future. It will also help with obtaining our Hiking and Outdoor Life Badges.
We wish we could have spent more time looking and learning all about the plants. One of our favorite parts about the hike was tasting the leaves and branches of the plants and trees, and painting our faces with berries.
Thank you again.
Suwasset Garden Club
PO Box 742
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
October 2, 2003
Dear Mr. Brill,
Your delightful guided tour of Avalon Park yesterday certainly was an interesting and refreshing event. Although many of the plants and shrubs weren't unfamiliar to most of us, we didn't know how many we could use as edible food, separately, or in combination, to enhance our meals. Luckily, as it turned out - we had the "perfect day."
We would have liked to have been able to have gone through the paperback book you had brought first, to see if we'd like to purchase one.
You must have a fine time with all the groups you take out. You learn more about "human nature" and they learn about "real nature."
It was very nice to have met you, and we wish to thank you for coming to share your extensive knowledge with us.
We all enjoyed it very much.
The Happy Gardeners of the Suwasset Garden Club
Harrison Ave. Elementary School
480 Harrison Ave.
Harrison, NY 1528
November 2, 2003
I wanted to write a letter of thanks on behalf of the teachers and second graders at Harrison Avenue School. This is the second year that you ventured out with us to learn about wild edibles, and we're amazed!
The children are so actively involved with you, listening about each plant and searching to find their own samples. No matter which plant the children asked about, you knew what it was, and if it was safe to eat or use. My students returned to our class with several plants in their collection bags, which they started taping into their notebooks and writing about.
You taught the children two important lessons in addition to learning about plants. One is that everything around us in nature is important and should be treated with care. And the other is that if they have an interest in something, they can study it further and become an expert as you did.
I look forward to working with you again.
Harrison Ave. Elementary School Students
Offer "Wildman" Common Evening Primrose
December 1, 2002
Subject: my son Greg and Wildman Steve Brill
A couple of weeks ago, my son Greg, my fiancé Michael and I trekked from Albany, NY to NYC to take one of the last of Wonderful Wildman Steve Brill's Central Park tours before the winter. We had a tremendous time.
We sampled or took home sheep sorrel, yew berries (but NOT the seeds!), gingko nuts, persimmons, hawthorn berries, and wild onions. You may recall that my son Greg is challenged by Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Steve was incredibly patient, kind, and engaging with Greg. My son was FASCINATED by the entire experience, and has been begging me for more. We bought Steve's book on Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants, and Greg has been reading it every since. (This is a kid who up till now only LIKED to read about Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh characters!)
The icing on Greg's proverbial cake was that CBS Sunday morning filmed the day with Steve. Greg's science teacher apparently saw the feature, taped it and showed it to his science class, using it to talk a bit about botany!
I can't recommend Steve's tours enough - especially for beginners as I am, and for young people. He's great. I was right about Greg's interest - it *does* go soul-deep with him. A kid who has trouble paying attention was riveted through the entire afternoon with Steve, and has been devouring the identification book. We will definitely be learning more together, my special son and me.
Thank you, Steve.
Warren and Fran
Cartoon by Warren & Fran
The Children's House of Park Slope
421 7th St.,
Brooklyn, NY 11215
To Whom it May Concern:
The Children's House is a Montessori school serving children 2-1/2 to 6 years of age. For the past several years the four-year-olds and kindergartners have made trips with naturalist Steve Brill to Prospect Park which is in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
The purpose of these trips is to investigate both edible and inedible plants that grow in the park. Mr. Brill is easily able to hold the attention of the entire group (26 children and chaperones) as he mixes his extensive knowledge of plants with interesting stories and funny songs.
In short, the naturalist is also a natural-born teacher! Our school recommends Mr. Brill's services enthusiastically and without reservation.
I would be glad to answer any questions you might have.
Science Specialist, 3/4
Ethical Culture Fieldston School
33 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
(212) 712 6220
September 10, 2001
This letter is to recommend "Wildman" Steve Brill to you and your students. I have had the opportunity to work with Wildman for 6 years, 5 while teaching 4th grade at PS 87 in Manhattan, 1 as a Science specials teacher for 3rd and 4th grade at Ethical Culture School. He has been a regular feature of my fall curriculum, working with the students both in Central Park as well as in the classroom. His knowledge of the flora and fauna of the park is extensive, as demonstrated in his lectures as well as his book.
I have found the experience of seeing Central Park through the eyes of a naturalist has helped my students understand more fully the bounty of nature that was/is present in our city. This understanding helped with the study of the Native Americans and is critically important for science and environmental learning.
"Wildman" has a wonderful way with the students. He keeps them interested and entertained. I would highly recommend a session with him as a wonderful supplement to your social studies and science curriculum.
Frank G. Buffone
Ethical Culture Fieldston School
33 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
(212) 712 6220
September 25, 2001
To Whom It May Concern,
I have worked with Steve Brill for over ten years. He has taken my class on a foraging trip every year. He has impressed me as a competent and sensitive teacher. When working with the whole class he is able to assess the academic the students and can tailor lessons, reflecting an understanding of those needs.
Steve's lessons are always well planned and age appropriate. There is always a sense of adventure when you enter the park with him yet you realize that you are safely in the hands of a very knowledgeable naturalist.
Steve is sensitive to the student's individual needs. This is demonstrated in the kinds of questions he asks and the way he helps children when they work with him. He is supportive and sensitive to the needs of his colleague, the classroom teacher. He always takes the initiative to help out in support of the curriculum and any ongoing project.
Steve's warmth and friendliness has a positive influence on our class. His humor and receptiveness make it a joy to work with him. He is a superb teacher. And, to the point, the children love him.
Owner, Coleman Country Day Camp
September 20, 2000
Wow! What a combination of a passionate naturalist and an inspiring teacher. Our children and our staff have been raving about your visit to camp. You gave them firsthand discovery about their natural world and convinced them that they must be stewards of our environment. You made them think, listen, laugh, and wonder. In an age when children gather most of their information pre-chewed, your program provides an extraordinary vehicle to explore and appreciate the world around them.
Besides the incredible knowledge and the good spirit you possess, you also were tireless. You were patient, you were attentive, you were enthused from morning until night. Your style with children is nothing less than terrific and your manner with staff is professional and mentoring. You plugged yourself right into our camp day, adding a dimension without causing any disruption to our programming.
We expect that you will be a regular part of our program as we continue to coach children to have an awareness and an appreciation of the world in which they live. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, and we look forward to exploring with you next summer.
The Door ó A Center of Alternatives
121 Ave. of the Americas
NY, NY, 10013
June 1, 1992
To Whom it May Concern:
Both here at The Door, where I work now, and at the East Harlem Block Schools, "Wildman" Steve Brill has been able to transform groups of street-wise city kids into inquiring naturalists. He has proved himself to be reliable, knowledgeable, and sincere in his desire to spread excitement about being aware of the environment. Additionally, he is comfortable with groups of all kinds.
Joan M. Quilty, Science Spokesperson
Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520
October 1, 1992
"Wildman" Steve Brill does the most fascinating presentation and field tour I have ever experienced. He is extremely knowledgeable in a wide range of areas, so he easily adapts his program to our interdisciplinary approach. For example, Steve incorporated information on how native peoples learned about the medicinal and other properties of indigenous plants, and how they shared that with the European settlers.
The seventh and eighth grade students who participated in Steve's programs over the past several years have had nothing but praise and positive comments regarding not only the content but the friendly way in which it was presented.
Steve Brill adds a dimension to the classroom activities and learning that would be hard to equal. I cannot say enough about how professional and personable his is. I highly recommend Steve to any classroom teacher.
196-35 Peck Ave.
Fresh Meadows, NY
(718) 264 0916
October 3, 1992
I am a special education teacher who works with severely emotional disturbed fourth graders. My students have many problems. Conventional education does not work when trying to teach academic subjects. Special education teachers must be very creative in teaching if they want their students to learn. "Wildman" Steve Brill has brought excitement into our classroom. The students look forward to his visits. They enjoy learning about all the wild vegetation, animals, and the history of parks. The students love walking in the parks and woods, and remember everything that "Wildman" Steve Brill teaches them. The children get to take samples of the vegetation home and teach their families about all the new things they have learned. My students also watch "Wildman" Steve Brill on cable TV.
I am very involved in environmental studies. I work on developing a curriculum on environmental studies. "Wildman" Steve Brill has taught our students so many things about their world that the children have developed a great interest in nature. "Wildman" Steve Brill is truly an asset to my school.
Mrs. Maria Perzan
Roseanne Schnoll, Ph.D., RD
Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
January 14, 1991
Steve Brill...introduced me to the concept of using indigenous plants as food and medicine. I joined Mr. Brill on many field walks...It was fascinating as well as educational.
I was so impressed with his commitment and knowledge in this area, I invited him to lecture to my graduate class in nutrition last year... His talk was very well received. His lecture was a very helpful addition to the students' knowledge in nutrition.
Mr. Brill is an exceptional lecturer who is able to disseminate sometimes dry material in a very lively and interesting manner. I strongly recommend him as an instructor.
The Laboratory School
235 W 76th St., NY, NY 10023
December 29, 1990
One of the rare experiences I've had with great teaching has come to me from my association with Steve Brill in both his laboratory courses and his field botany walks in the open spaces of the five boroughs of New York City. Over the past five years I've had occasion to go with Steve alone, with friends, and with my intermediate school classes.
Each even has been a special time. Steve teaches by his example how to get pleasure out of the non-material experience, how to understand the natural world and its relationships, how to take part in its stewardship. He wears his impressive knowledge lightly and with unfailing good humor and patience, always sensitive to the great differences inherent in every group. It is impossible to spend a day under Steve's tutelage and not come away from it better for the experience and refreshed. He will always be for me the model of the involved scholar.
New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991