Educator, Teacher, Mentor


Donate to Preston's Memorial Fund

On July 24th, 2017, Preston passed away from complications due to an inoperable tumor on his liver that prevented oxygen and blood flow and, within the course of three weeks, quickly shut his body down.

We are looking to raise funds to help Preston's family with medical expenses, a public memorial service, and the roof of the family home that Preston was in the process of fixing. All money goes to his wife, Kathleen, and the Roberts family. Please contribute today. No donation is too small.

“Growth as a Person”

One of my earliest conscious memories is of me lying on the ground, underneath trees, my eyes closed, with a feeling of the earth pushing me up into the air. I’d open my eyes and find myself back on the ground every time.

I have an affinity for nature, a passion for this planet and it’s well being: A connection fostered from living and being in close proximity to the earth for over half a century. While I have learned much through books and even more by the individuals I have crossed paths with along the way, I have learned the most through careful observation and the analysis of those observations.

When I am instructing students I try to be brief, (though on occasions I fail miserably at brevity) encapsulating the essence of the lesson into a few moments then guide my students through a creative, self-discovery process. It’s my intention to push the individual student to the cusp of their comfort zone and if they falter, guide them further than they thought was possible.

I am the eldest of 5 children and the child of a teacher, so perhaps this is why I began teaching… or perhaps it is the result of my wife’s persistent encouragement (for which I will be eternally grateful)… perhaps it is simply an accumulation of DNA and life events that lead a person to teach. What ever the reason, I am a teacher. It is what I am, who I am, and without that part of my being I would simply be dust.

My teaching style is quite a bit different from most teachers. I observe, analyze, and then create a plan of action that I deem best.

A True Story...

A True Story of an Interaction with a Student. We Will Call “Johnny.”

Johnny came to camp because his parents made him. He was prone to sitting around, drawing in sketch books, designing, dreaming, wishing, but inactive in the physical world. At camp Johnny didn’t make friends, he sat off to the side of activities, was non-participatory. I saw many counselors go over and talk to him, put their hand on his shoulder, console and encourage him in a traditional, nurturing way. Nothing was helping. So I analyzed the situation and took action. I went to Johnny and said, “Do you have a knife?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Here is a piece of wood. Carve a spoon out of this by lunch time.” No response.

At lunch time I saw him in the lunch line, soup on the menu, and I asked him, “Show me the spoon you carved.” “I didn’t carve one,” he answered. So, I took his silverware away and said, “Carve a spoon, and I want you to make a cup out of a piece of bamboo by supper time.” A moment latter I saw him talking to the kitchen staff. I eased over and listened to him say, “I lost my silverware. Can I borrow some?” I stepped in and instructed the staff not to give him any type of eating utensils.

At supper time, I took his cup and asked him to make a bowl. The next day I took his bowl. He found a scrap board to put his food on. Then, when I knew he was ready, I took him aside and showed him a gouge and how it worked. I showed him how he could make a spoon, a bowl, and a cup.

He carved a spoon. He made a cup. He made a bowl and a plate. He started taking classes. He came to camp until he aged out. He started a spoon carving business and sold spoons at craft shows and musical festivals. His last year as a camper he was elected as the “Honor Camper” by his peers for being the camper that best possesses the attributes exemplified by the camp program.

Growth as a person is what I strive to accomplish in my teachings… Subject matter is simply a tool.

I taught Art in the public schools for 25 years and was twice elected as “Teacher of the Year.” I have been teaching primitive living skills for over 40 years and I am a co-founder, instructor, and on the Board of Directors at Turtle Island Preserve.

Some Subjects I Teach

  • Building, Construction, Design, Woodworking
  • Art, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Pottery, etc…
  • Knife Making, Sharpening, Safety
  • Brain Tanning, Butchering
  • Primitive Living, Tipi Life
  • Primitive Skills
    (fire by friction, bows, arrows, fire, spears, baskets, wild plants, traps, snares, deadfalls, shelter, etc…)

Here’s a video made by a very good friend of mine, Spencer Two Dogs:

July 17, 1957 - July 24, 2017

Due to complications from an inoperable tumor on his liver, Preston Roberts took his last breath at 3:30pm on Monday July 24, 2017 - in the arms of his beloved wife Kathleen, surrounded by family and loved ones. Preston was a woodsman, educator, artist, craftsman, and environmentalist.

Preston James Roberts
July 17, 1957 - July 24, 2017 Dismiss