Saturday, June 25, 2022

Discovering Your Way: How We Learn From Nature

Lee Memorial Hospital staff participates in a leadership exercise. PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

Lee Memorial Hospital staff participates in a leadership exercise. PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

Humans…the dominant species on the planet. We have evolved to a point that we don’t have to rely on other animals for our own wellbeing. We’ve gone from being hunters to farmers to producers of artificial substitutes for food. We’ve domesticated other species to provide nourishment for ourselves.

Our social structure now demands that we depend on each other to maintain a sense of community, a balance among ourselves. Skills and instincts that we once had are now less valued. There is a hierarchy of managers, middle managers and laborers now, and the relationships among these groups turn the wheels of production. Cohesiveness within these classes can often be strained and need periodic adjustments.

Can nature be the answer to solve these differences, to guide us into a successful future? Is interaction with more instinctive animals the key to learning about each other and working toward a common goal? Is it possible to learn about human interaction through animal response? One Marco Island professional has found an answer.

Whether it be leadership, team building, social skill improvement or relaxation, Karen Kendrick helps individuals and teams to quickly gain clarity on where they want to go, and she does so with horses.

As founding partner of “Discovering Your Way,” Karen brings horses to the coaching and leadership development of individuals, groups, teams and leaders. The combination of coaching knowledge, technique and interaction with horses represents a unique opportunity for personal and professional transformation.

Why horses? Very simply, they provide honest, unbiased, in-the-moment feedback to people that cannot be experienced in a classroom setting. They ask us to be honest and clear. It is through their willingness, or lack

Karen Kendrick, Founding Partner of Discovering Your Way. FILE PHOTO

Karen Kendrick, Founding Partner of Discovering Your Way. FILE PHOTO

thereof, to cooperate with you or your team, that you obtain an assessment on how effective you are.

You cannot demand a horse’s cooperation, cannot finesse your way through an exercise or hope they will just do what you say because you are nice to them. Horses want participants to be congruent, to be clear, present and authentic individuals and leaders.

After each horse experience Karen facilitates the group through discussions regarding what they learned about their leadership and team, how this applies to their work and what actions they can initiate when returning to the workplace. These activities are designed to relate directly to the specific individuals and teams participating in the event.

This is an opportunity to be in front of a live being with a personality, a chance to strip away and forget about a task or job and just act and react to animal feedback. The relationship with the horse will tear down artificial walls that are too often built in the home and workplace. This connection with nature is a great way to accept strengths and weaknesses and learn how to be a better you.

Karen is leading workshops nationwide for major hospitals and healthcare systems, as well as with local medical facilities, educators and other South Florida community leaders. She receives exceptional reviews throughout the country for her positive results. “Discovering Your Way” trainings are facilitated at Everglades Ranch just 20 minutes from downtown Naples. This rustic ranch is nestled on the edge of the Picayune Strand with lots of quiet trails and scenic surroundings.

Karen holds a degree in education, a master’s in counseling and has specialized training in strategic planning, mediation,

No halter or lead line, trust is the key in this “Discovering Your Way” exercise

No halter or lead line, trust is the key in this “Discovering Your Way” exercise

cultural competency, facilitation and fundraising. Karen also has an EFLC certification (Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching).

I had the pleasure, as a spectator, to attend a recent session hosted by Karen for Lee Memorial Hospital. In conjunction with Physician’s Leadership Institute it was their third group of physicians and administrators to enjoy “Discovering Your Way.” It was fascinating to watch this group utilize each other’s personal strengths to get a horse to follow commands. They were no longer “machines”…they were human.

Stories are often related to us about positive animal/human relationships. We hear of pets alerting their masters to danger and, sometimes, saving their lives. We hear of wildlife, like dolphins, saving or warning humans as well. There is a connection to nature here and unbiased, un-opinionated mammals such as horses do, indeed, help us realize the genuine qualities of the human animal.

Karen Kendrick has many tools at her disposal to help make life better in the home or workplace. Perhaps her best stepping stone is through nature. It may be as simple as a walk with a horse.

To learn more about Karen and how you can participate in her coaching sessions please visit or call Karen at 212-300-7783.

BIO: Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and is a naturalist with the survey team on board the Dolphin Explorer. He will be participating in the 2016 Python Challenge with his wife and friends Steve and Janel Gimmestad. Bob loves his wife very much!!!


Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and also a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer survey program. He is a member of Florida SEE (Society for Ethical Ecotourism). Bob loves his wife very much!

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