Our Teachers

Core Instructors

Emily Ruff

Emily Ruff, Executive Director, is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Her studies have taken her around three continents where she has studied under healers of many traditions. Her background in gardening and botany came in childhood while wandering the wilderness and digging in the sandy soils of Florida with her grandfather, a tobacco farmer turned urban gardener, and her father, a botany and astronomy professor. Her journey into herbalism continued through apprenticeships in Guatemala under the tutelage of local healers on the southern coast of Lake Atitlan, in the mountains of Vermont at the feet of Rosemary Gladstar, and in the Central Florida apothecary Leaves & Roots with herbalists Carolyn Whitford and George D’Arcy. Emily’s academic studies include Ethnobotany, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida and Curanderismo with the University of New Mexico. She is a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner.

Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to become active in the organization United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012, an event that continues to sell out annually. In past years, she served multiple terms as president of the Herb Society of Central Florida and as co-founder of Homegrown Local Food Cooperative. Most recently, in response to the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Emily founded the Orlando Grief Care Project. From the community relationships cultivated through the national response to this tragedy, Emily formed the Herbal Action Network to continue weaving the web of compassionate herbalism into community engagement. Emily is an instructor in the Herbal Academy Advanced Herbal Training Course. Sharing her time between Florida and Vermont, she currently serves as director of the Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary.

Emily’s classes have been described as “heart-filled,” “enriching,” and “empowering,” creating a bridge between the teachings of our ancestors and the technologies of our modern world. Emily can be found in joy cooking, practicing yoga, writing, photographing flora, creating music with family and friends, and digging her fingers in the dirt. The plants continue to be her greatest teachers.

See Emily’s classes at this link.

Maggie O’Halloran

Maggie is an herbalist and educator in Central Florida. She comes from a large family where chaos was the norm. She always found peace outside watching things grow or climbing magnolia trees. She learned in her mother’s kitchen that the things you put in your mouth impact your mind and your body.

In the early 90’s she first found her own inspiration to view health from a holistic perspective while working as a teacher assistant at a mental health hospital for children. From that experience, she decided that there had to be a better way to help kids beyond medicating them to a zombie state with pharmaceuticals. She started college studying education and psychology ultimately received a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Masters in Educational Leadership.

In 1999 she took her love of plants to Oakland, California where she worked with inner city elementary students and teachers, learning and teaching about violence prevention and anger management through physical education and body awareness with Playworks. She explored working with food, exercise, breathing, and communication skills. She continued to study plants and their medicine by sharing with friends.

In 2006 she moved to Florida to find a slower pace in life. Though her love of teaching hasn’t waned, she took the opportunity to focus on deepening her plant knowledge in a more intentional way with Emily Ruff and The Florida School of Holistic Living. Since then she has found inspiration from teachers like Rosemary Gladstar and David Winston. She continues her passion for helping people find peace by sharing her knowledge with whomever will listen. She enjoys working with friends, family, and strangers seeking a more holistic way to be healthy.

These days she can be found hiking on trails, tending her garden, creating something good for you in her kitchen, teaching in her community about plant medicine, and learning from her six-year-old herbalist and his friends.

Shannon Alycia

Shannon Alycia is a Mother, Folk Herbalist and light-worker. As a healer, her passion in life has become empowering others by helping them learn how to be responsible for their personal health and well-being. With such a busy life and being mindful of the fact the she is human and not immune to the external stressors in our world, Shannon decided to implement yoga into her daily routine. After attending yoga regularly, she was pleased with how yoga helped her off the mat in every aspect of her life. Having crossed paths with a wonderful teacher by the name of Tymi Howard and feeling blessed to be a part of the beautifully spirited community of like-minded individuals she helped grow, she was in Love! Shannon soon decided she wanted to deepen her practice and began teacher training the following summer. Shannon has been teaching yoga ever since and is truly humbled by the opportunity and experience. Allowing yoga to take a key role in her life has been essential as it has opened doors to new positive opportunities, new friends, and most importantly opened her heart! Shannon wants to share her passion and love for yoga with others, knowing it will have many positive effects in their lives as well.

Debbie Krause

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Debbie Krause is a Central Florida herbalist with a passion for plants, healing and medicine-making. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies from Rollins College’s Hamilton Holt School in 1994 and has had a passion for nature and a connection to nature ever since. One of her greatest joys is wandering through the woods here in Florida or up in the mountains of North Carolina.

Debbie began her formal herbal training at the Florida School of Holistic Living and completed the Community Herbalist training under Emily Ruff’s skilled guidance. She has continued her training with a variety of esteemed herbalists including Kim Ellis, Margi Flint, Jody Noe, Phyllis Light, 7Song, Thomas Easley, Michael Cottingham, John Gallagher, Rosalee de la Foret, Sam Coffman and Steven Horne.

Debbie believes that learning never ends and is thankful for every opportunity to learn about herbs, wilderness, and healing. She appreciates every teacher who has crossed her path and believes that “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

While Debbie appreciates every aspect of herbalism, she has a true passion for medicine-making. You can often find her in the kitchen working with fresh roots, creating tinctures and formulas or making her well-known “Deb’s Super Salve” first-aid salve and lip balm. She takes a lighthearted approach and loves the fun, messy nature of herbalism and the cast of characters that has become a core part of her life. She also enjoys teaching others how to take their own health and the health of their families, communities and environment into their own hands.

Featured Teachers

Ellen Kamhi

Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., RN, AHG, AHN-BC is a wildcrafting intuitive herbalist and is adept at radionics and dowsing. She is a mentor with AHG (American Herbalist Guild) and takes herbalists through the process of becoming AHG(RH) certified. Ellen teaches in conventional educational settings, mainstream medical schools, and universities, as well as with master traditional healers from a variety of cultures. “It has been my honor to have studied with indigenous and master herbalists, such as JAMBA of the MAROONS in Jamaica, Michael Moore and Mimi Kemp in Bisbee Arizona, SONIA in Santa Cruz Mexico, Dr. Bernard Jensen, and a vast array of advanced herbalists.”

As a leader in the herbal nutraceutical industry, Dr. Kamhi is recognized as a consultant specializing in regulatory issues, formulation and product education. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild (AHG(RH)), nationally board certified as a holistic nurse (AHN-BC), and is a medical school instructor in botanical pharmacology, and author of many books, including The Natural Medicine Chest. She offers online/on-ground CE approved Herbal Certification Programs and leads www.EcotoursForCures.com to experience shamanic healing traditions in indigenous areas of the world. She is on the Peer Review Editorial Board of several journals/organizations, including Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Natural Medicine Journal, Natural Standard Database.

See Ellen’s classes at this link.

Stephen Kane

Stephen Kane is a passionate teacher, with a master’s degree in education he spent many years inside the classroom. He currently works at Bok Tower Gardens as a Garden Educator. His lifelong love of plants has taken him to many interesting places as he continues to answer the call of the plants. His passion is ethnobotany, especially man’s call from the natural world to be in balance with the earth. Stephen is an earth-skills practitioner who learns and teaches others the valuable lessons of survival living. He is blessed to learn from Emily Ruff and all the amazing teachers at the Florida School of Holistic living where he completed the Community Herbalist Program. Stephen shares his life with his wife Sara, they are most proud of their two children who continue to teach and inspire us.

Wilnise Francois

Wilnise Francois is a Haitian-American Licensed Nurse and Herbalist that has worked in the allopathic modality of healing for over a decade. Working alongside physicians and caretakers alike facilitating wellness to those across the life span. Her role as an herbalist expanded with the personal need and integration of herbal medicines from her coveted traditional Haitian practices and studies in Western herbalism. As a student herbalist, she is working to revolutionize the cultural affinity of our plant friends through our relationships with the earth and stars. Her aim is to integrate the very love our herbs show us and implement that essence into our daily lives; creating a lifestyle of health and wellness.

Juliane Miklos

I’m Juliane, the spirit behind the Garden Jules. Born and raised in South Florida, I’m a self-titled baby Herbalist. My herbal journey began a few summers ago at Medicina Tropical, under the guidance of Julia Onnie-Hay, Paula Diaz, and Monique Moyer. It was there, that I fell in love with tropical plants and the medicines we can all make from them. I continued my studies with Julia Onnie-Hay through her Magic City Herbalist course and with the Florida School of Holistic Living, studying with Emily Ruff and Maggie O’Halloran. Throughout my studies, I’ve tended and grown herbal gardens, which have been my greatest teachers. There’s nothing better to me than communing with the plant spirits, hands deep in the earth. Through the Garden Jules, I hope to share my enthusiasm of the plants, to inspire you to start growing your own herbal oasis and to start making your own herbal medicines! https://thegardenjules.com/

I’m Juliane, the spirit behind the Garden Jules. Born and raised in South Florida, I’m a self-titled baby Herbalist. My herbal journey began a few summers ago at Medicina Tropical, under the guidance of Julia Onnie-Hay, Paula Diaz, and Monique Moyer. It was there, that I fell in love with tropical plants and the medicines we can all make from them. I continued my studies with Julia Onnie-Hay through her Magic City Herbalist course and with the Holistic School of Living’s, Roots of Herbalism and Family Herbalist Course. I’m currently enrolled in the Community Herbalist Course, studying with Emily Ruff through the Florida School of Holistic Living. Throughout my studies, I’ve tended and grown herbal gardens, which have been my greatest teachers. There’s nothing better to me than communing with the plant spirits, hands deep in the earth. Through the Garden Jules, I hope to share my enthusiasm of the plants, to inspire you to start growing your own herbal oasis and to start making your own herbal medicines! https://thegardenjules.com/

Militza Maury

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Militza Maury is an herbalist, natural skincare educator, and author of the book Natural Homemade Skincare. She teaches a holistic approach to the skin, using herbal skin care practices as a tool for whole-body wellness. Militza learned the art & skill of skincare making from traditional makers and healers in Indonesia. She has taught workshops throughout Asia and writes, Little Green Dot, where she shares her “whole food” skincare recipes and philosophy.

Daniel Koenigkann

Daniel has been brewing Kombucha since 2011. He built his business out of a passion and love for brewing great-tasting, raw, organic Kombucha. Prior to this, he was an Engineer in the Medical Industry and decided to leave his career to start the business because he truly believes in the benefits of this healthy elixir. He grew his business organically starting in his own kitchen, and today his products can be found throughout Central Florida and beyond. When not in his brewery, Daniel can be found supporting rhythm at the FSHL moon circles, relaxing among the plants, or planning travel experiences.

Christina Brown

Christina Brown is a growing community herbalist who desires to share her knowledge and passions with those around her. She is a first-generation American, with her lineage deriving from Barbados. Taking great desire to reconnect to the earth, continuing the spiritual and physical connections with the earth as her ancestors once did, her intent is to assist others in starting or continuing their journeys in becoming one with themselves. She is currently the Vice President of Accounting & Finance for The Gabor Agency in Tallahassee, Florida. She has her Master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations from Penn State University and her bachelor’s degrees in Accounting, Finance, and Human Resource Management from Florida State University. She has 13 years of professional experience in corporate accounting, human resource management, risk management, business plan development, and strategic planning. She has also assisted numerous small businesses to improve administrative operations, develop and maintain bookkeeping practices, and provide training support through her consulting firm, Trydent Consulting, and the Small Business Development Center. Christina is an avid tea lover, recovering foodie, and cultural explorer.

Caitlin McMullen

Caitlin McMullen is an herbalist living in Sarasota, FL. She has been a student of plants since childhood, with an interest in herbalism beginning in college. She has completed Community Herbalist training with the Florida School of Holistic Living and studied with many teachers from around the country. She has a background in movement arts such as gymnastics, Tai Chi, and contemporary and improvisational dance, and these inform her approach to herbalism as an embodied practice. Caitlin tends the land where she and her partner and children live, nurturing both cultivated and wild herbs, living in accordance with the seasons as much as possible. She practices bioregional herbalism as a path of personal and community wellness and a means of interconnection with all our human and more than human communities.

Naomi Bourassa

Naomi Bourassa, LMT, MSW (she/her) is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Herbalist, and Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern in Orlando, FL. Naomi has been a licensed massage therapist since 2004, accumulating continuing education in several modalities including Thai Massage, Myofascial Release, Neuromuscular Therapy, Reiki, Aromatherapy and Reflexology. She provides an integrative approach to each session, offering education and self-care tools to each client depending upon their individual needs. Naomi became a certified yoga teacher in 2010. She focuses on the basics and assists her students in cultivating body awareness. Naomi strives to offer yoga that is safe, inclusive and accessible to individuals of varying abilities. Naomi is passionate about offering trauma-sensitive yoga to allow her students to explore movement at their own pace. As a yoga student, Naomi has learned to respect her own boundaries and wishes to provide a safe space for her yoga students to establish and practice their personal boundaries to feel empowered and free. Naomi graduated from the Community Herbalist program with the Florida School of Holistic Living in 2014. While she does not actively practice community herbalism, she loves to dabble with gardening and herbal medicine for her friends and family. She especially enjoys working with herbs to support the nervous system.

Johana Castillo

Johana was born and raised in Colombia and is the sole person behind Mama Tortuga.org, a multicultural, conscious, and mindful bilingual website for parents that want to raise global citizens. She is raising two multicultural and multilingual children with her Honduran partner in South Florida, speaking and learning various languages. Lover of nature, culture, and languages, backyard gardener, has a background of anthropology and nursing studies. Has served as a parent advocate in her local school board, and had participated in several community mindful events around Florida (Florida Herbal Conference, Dia de los Muertos Lake Worth Beach, Spanish Conversational Groups and Spanish Nature Playgroups) and in North Carolina (Firefly Gathering). She has collaborated with different websites (Multicultural Kids Blogs, Spanish Mama, Raising World Children, Barefoot cards, etc) and projects around her city of West Palm Beach, Florida and till this day keeps supporting community building efforts in her community through advocacy, education and gardening. She believes that “we need to be the change we want to see in the world” and that our mission as parents and educators is to empower others to offer their unique gifts for the common good of all in their community. She offers classes, speak at conferences and support and organize events that are mindful, eco-conscious and look to bring justice and awareness to our multicultural connections and relationships. She is the organizer of Moon Talk for Teenage Girls and Moon Talks for Women classes in West Palm Beach FL.

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