Full-time Certificate Program

I’ve been to other herbal schools and what I found unique about the Blue Otter School is that Karyn and Sarah not only share their wisdom about how plants heal you on both physical and spiritual levels, but they offer very deep and meaningful training on how to be a healer. That is, how to walk in your power and hold yourself, your clients and your community so that we can all realize the potential to be our brightest selves. It’s a rare gift to find an herbal program that takes you beyond studies about the plants and holds you through a deeply transformational experience. This is training for life, not just for being an herbalist.

— Tracey Brieger, Full-Time Program 2010

The Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine full-time program runs for four months and is designed for  serious students who are ready to fully immerse themselves in the world of plants, spirit, medicine and self. Our students leave grounded in basic practitioner skills, plant knowledge, energetics and a love of and delight in the plants. This course is geared toward clinical practice.

We will be working in the garden, tending to stands in the wild, spending time in nature, making herbal medicines, spending time in classroom instruction and taking the plants internally. Additionally, we will be spending time in meditation, discussing the political context of health care, getting our hands dirty and laughing.

Curriculum includes; 400+ hours:

  • Materia medica – physical and spirit medicinal properties of the plants
  • Energetics – energetic interactions of plants with each other and with people
  • Cultivating techniques – starting plants from seed or root, planting and harvesting techniques, growing plants, soil preparations; garden time
  • Medicine making – how to make herbal preparations
  • Body systems – basic foundation for understanding the body’s physical functions with an energetic understanding
  • Case studies – working cases to learn assessment and herbal formulations
  • Animal care – using plants for the health of animals
  • Practitioner skills/ethics – what it means to be a practitioner and work with people

Schedule: April 3- July 27, 2017

Our 2017 class is full. We will begin to review applications for our 2018 class in August of this year. You may submit your application prior to August, we will just hold it until then.

School is in session April through July. Classes are held Monday through Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, with a one-hour break for lunch. We will have some field trips that take us outside of these hours. There is a one week break from school midway through the four month session.  

Class size: Classes are limited to a maximum of 16 students in order to ensure individual attention.

Tuition : $4,800 in 2017 (with class overtime, comes to less than $12/hour). Tuition covers the cost of in-class medicine making supplies. Students are responsible for their own food and lodging.

Instructors: Karyn Sanders and Sarah Holmes

Application process: Applications to the school are accepted year round. We fill up quickly, so early applications are encouraged. We will start to review applications after August 1st for the following spring. Applications received after this time will be considered on a first come and space-available basis.

In addition to the written application there is a phone interview with the instructors. Applications may be downloaded application.fulltime or requested by phone, mail or email.

Please take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page as well.


Prospective students are welcome to sit in on a half day of class or meet with the instructors; with prior arrangement. Siskiyou County is beautiful and most people enjoy their visit to the area. We only offer this to students seriously considering the full-time program. We are too busy, with a two person staff, to offer tours to people just curious or casually interested.