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Dedicated to Developing Responsible Herbal Practice

Established in 2002 by Susan Wynn, DVM, CVA, CVCH, AHG, DACVN




Organized by VBMA Members, these educational adventures afford professional collaboration opportunities, extraordinary learning and are in the most interesting places.  2016 EcoTour information is listed below.



In June 2016, VBMA members spent time in the Valley of the Rain Forest Giants, saw The World Largest Sitka Spruce, and hiked around a mountain lake and five miles of Quinault Forest trails. They witnessed the magic of cascading waterfalls, the magnificent Pacific Ocean and endless medicinal plants and soft green moss and lichen-rich forests. The rain forest and Olympic Peninsula are world-renowned for easy flat hikes along river beds to mountain hikes with views and elevation, and we saw it all!


We arrived at the Rain Forest Resort Village, took hikes, attended lectures and had a ton of fun! VBMA member Donna Kelleher was our 'on the ground' local coordinator and did the vast majority of the work with Ihor Basko...the pictures below are all medicinals found behind her house, except the photo of our native honeysuckle, which was taken on Orcas. A huge thanks to all our speakers, Donna, Ihor, Hanna Jordan and Liz Hassinger, as well as all the volunteers who took on this task and made it a HUGE success!




Cynthia Lakenau was kind enough to write up a synopsis of the tour for us:


From the afternoon of June 11, 2016 to June 15, 2016; 30 VBMA members, teachers and companions reveled in the majestic Rainforest in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, Quinault Lake; home of the largest Sitka Spruce, a true grandmother of trees. We had a monopoly in this small isolated resort giving the retreat a wonderful sense of camaraderie. With no easy access to stores or quick stops, our local coordinator Donna Kelleher, her husband Jeff, and fellow VBMA member Erin Zamzow used their cabin as a meeting place with available breakfast and lunches; a vast array of healthy food. After an initial meet and greet on the 11th, we were up on the 12th to greet the Sitka Spruce, the world’s largest known. It was moving to be in the presence of this immense tree to start our official eco-tour. Our participants were worldwide from Australia to England, US and Canada. Hanna Jordan started our program with a talk on the intelligence of the heart and the health benefits seen when using this knowledge in daily life followed by a discussion on nervines including Bacopa. Our afternoon was spent hiking in the Rain forest with Donna, filling ourselves with Salmon Berries, Thimble Berries, Huckleberries (avoiding the red elder berries, though!) as we met Hedge Nettle, Devil’s Club, foxglove, Salal, Cleavers, Bleeding Heart, Scouler’s Corydalis, Douglas Fir, a lot of ferns: Bracken, Deer, Sword, Licorice, Lady, Maiden; dogwood, Cascara, Angelica, Morning glory, Field bindweed, Elder, Dock, Oxalis, Trillium, Usnea, Wild Ginger, Heal all, mints Twisted Knotweed, Clasping Twistedstalk, False Lily of the Valley, Youth on age, Lungwort, Liverwort, Indian Plum, Twin Berry, Pathfinder, Baneberry, Pearly Everlasting, Fireweed, Sweet Sicily, Horsetail, Ocean Spray to name a few!!!  Donna is a vibrant knowledgeable herbalist and it was a true joy to spend time in the woods with her. With free time, a few of us went to the coast and were treated with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and were able to see some very old cedars. The next day was spent in the morning with Liz Hassinger, making incredible teas and tinctures. It is very helpful to understand how to make medicines from our plant remedies. Liz gave a thorough and enjoyable talk.  n the afternoon, she continued with a discussion on the ability to connect with plants, how to open our hearts and mind to plants. We all sought out the plant that called to us and spent some time really connecting with that particular plant. Donna continued the afternoon with another herbwalk; a highlight meeting a Yew tree. A small group continued the day’s connecting with plants with drumming. Our last day was filled with MUSHROOMS!!!  After a talk on the most common mushrooms seen in the Pacific Northwest and their healing abilities, we had an incredible walk with Ihor and his wife, Jane, sensing, finding, feeling and experiencing mushrooms.  There is such joy walking in the woods with Ihor, a truly remarkable herbalist!! The eco-tour ended with good companionship with an evening banquet and a viewing of Juliet of the Herbs! This was a totally satisfying trip; a perfect blend of personal peace and tranquility in the forest, a secluded almost exclusive location with great herbal information and awesome camaraderie of fellow veterinarians and families.




From Laurie Dohmen, VBMA Past President: I have the long-awaited details of the VBMA ecotour to Peru!  The price is $2,850 and includes all expenses except the airfare to meet in Cusco. The dates are July 20-30, 2016. The trip only accommodates 12-15 people, so sign up soon.  f you want details of the trip, I wrote a review of my experience in the Winter 2015 VBMA Journal.  It was one of the most powerful and amazing experiences of my life.  I took over 600 pictures of herbs, and over 50 pages of notes.  It was definitely a total herbal immersion and I got more than my money's worth.  For more information and to sign up, please download the documents that appear below or contact Dr. Jillian Stansbury of Naturopathic College of Natural Medicine directly at:







In March of 2014, the VBMA visited HAWAII. VBMA EcoTour Consultant Ihor Basko calls this spectacular island paradise his home, and he was kind enough to organize the wonderful adventure.


We met with a Hawaiian herbal medicine woman, Ginger Saiki, who was our “kahuna” and taught us about Hawaiian Medicine herbs, visited tropical gardens and herbal gardens (including Lima Huli Gardens)...and had plenty of free time to go horseback riding, zip limning from tree to tree, snorkeling, hiking Kauai's trails or surfing and swimming at the beaches as well as whale watching.


Below you'll find a slideshow of our photo collection from the trip, courtesy of Cynthia Lankenau, Ihor Basko and Cornelia Wagner.  Enjoy the incredibly beautiful HD images...FOR BEST VIEWING, CHOOSE THE FULL SCREEN OPTION AND AT LEAST 720p RESOLUTION.





The 2012 VBMA ecotour took us to sunny Spain!  This tour combined a bit of culture with a lot of hiking, relaxation, eating and some herbal education. The dates were April 19 – May 1, 2012. We started our tour in Barcelona to sample the art, architecture, and tapas. We then moved on to the mountains, where we had 6 days of seminars, hiking, and culture with a team consisting of a traditional Spanish curandero and an herbalist who earned a BSc in herbal medicine at Middlesex University. Next, we went to Cabo de Gata National Park, a quiet spot in the hills with easy access to the beach for 2 days of leisure.


Our guide, Julio, authored a wonderful book containing 200 different herbal monographs, which some of you have purchased.  We are slowly but surely translating it into English.  You can find what we have so far HERE.


Below please find Cynthia Lankenau's photo collection from the EcoTour...there are MANY notes, so feel free to pause and read as you go.  If you prefer, just watch and check out the beautiful scenery!  FOR BEST VIEWING, CHOOSE THE FULL SCREEN OPTION.




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The VBMA is not affiliated with the American College of Veterinary Botanical Medicine (ACVBM).