On-Site PDC in the St. Louis Area

Sept. 30th-Oct. 7, 2023

Introducing Hayden (Permaculture, An Alternative To College Education)

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Hi, Everyone!

My name is Hayden. For those who have not met me or have not heard of me, I am the son of Bill and Becky Wilson. I will be working with Midwest Permaculture as an intern for at least the next year and contributing here on the blog.

Last year I was a junior in high-school, “the time when I’m SUPPOSED to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.”  Whenever I thought about this, I remember I felt very stressed, as if I was being pulled in many different directions.  At that point in time I had mostly assumed that I HAD to go to college; all my brothers went, and all my friends were planning to, so I figured, “that’s what I SHOULD do too.”  However, I had no specific interest or path that I wanted to pursue in college. Long story short, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I should go to college for, what college I would go to, and ended up beating myself up for not being able to get clear on what I was going to do.

When my junior year was nearly over, after a lot of bruised knuckles and sleepless nights, I had decided that it would be in my best interest to get a Permaculture Designer Certificate under my belt, especially since this was the family business anyway. I had always been around it and had experience doing some permaculture projects and gardening, but I still didn’t have a very strong grasp on the general/basic principles of permaculture. At the very least, I knew I was interested and that I wanted to learn more as well as broaden my knowledge and life skills.

As the date to the training got closer and closer, I began to realize that I was more interested than I had originally thought. Once the PDC training began, from then on, it all clicked for me. I thoroughly enjoyed learning with a group of people who were there by personal choice, rather than societal pressure. I knew that working in permaculture is what I really wanted to do. I finally realized, why go to college when I don’t really know what I want to go for? I knew I could end up wasting time and money, and my heart just wasn’t into it. Instead, I could create an internship with Midwest Permaculture and do something that I love and have the motivation to do.

Throughout the following year, my parents and I brainstormed ideas as to how I could become part of the business and make a significant contribution. My senior year ended up feeling great to me because I could enjoy one last year of high-school while knowing that when it was all over, I had a plan for what I was going to do next.

Now here I am, 3 months after graduation, and I’m ready to kick off the start of a new part of my life. I’m really excited about this internship and I’m looking forward to getting into some fun and interesting permaculture projects. A few days ago I said to myself, “Hayden, you seriously need to start doing some sort of work for your internship” then I took a minute to think about the past 4 weeks and the various permaculture trainings I helped out with here in Stelle, and surprisingly I realized, “wow, Hayden, you have been doing quite a bit work. But it doesn’t seem like it? How can that be? Ohhh… You’re having fun.” 

15 thoughts on “Introducing Hayden (Permaculture, An Alternative To College Education)”

  1. Received a link to a great graphic that clearly questions the value of money invested in a formal education.

    I personally feel that continuing education is paramount to my own personal growth and happiness but our learning institutions offer little of value when it comes to meaningful and worthwhile information.

    And now, even the certificates they hand out have little meaning or worth. There are many wonderful people in our educational systems… especially some great teachers…but the institutions support neither.

    Just wanted to share this graphic mostly… Regards.

  2. Amassing…Hayden, thank you and your Family for all what you do and shear with us.Looking forward for something new and and very much need it for me , for us and for planet Love and peace

  3. Hayden, I have never met you, but want to suggest that you not close the door of University. If you do go, spend as little money as you can. And ask around for the best professors. Don’t waste your time with on-line classes.
    College does open up the universe of thought and ideas, and the great thing is you can take any class you might like (not at all like high school). You will meet people and learn about things that are certainly as important as what you are learning now, and won’t have regrets later. Just wanted to say that, among all the support you are getting, which is also great!

    1. I’m glad you brought that up. I am currently taking one class at Kankakee Community College (KCC), the fundamentals of electricity, because I feel like having many practical skills in the future will be very important. The teacher is excellent, it is a great class, and the environment is nice too. So, I am leaving that door open because if I find a program that makes sense to me and that I’m really interested in, I would be more than willing to pursue that path. I also have several friends and family members that are in college that I can go visit and experience some of the social aspect as well as meet new people. But, by all means, thank you for the input, it will not go unnoticed, and I am glad you brought that point up so I could address it, seeing that I did not do so in my blog story.



  4. Hi Hayden, Even though you’re so wise at such a young age, you probably don’t realize how truly important your decision not to attend college is. I’m 60 now and only just realizing that most college is a training ground for corporate employees and most corporations nowadays (because their only legal responsibility is to make a profit) seem bent on the destruction of culture. I live in rural Iowa and just recently read in the local newspaper an announcement of a young woman’s graduation from the U of IA’s Ag program. There was her photo …a beautiful, young, hopeful face … and she was going to work for Monsanto! I cried when I read that. I rejoiced when I read your blog. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  5. I want to add my congratulations as well, Hayden. The fact that so many people waste their time doing what is expected of them rather than what really lights their fires, means that the world is less colorful and passionate. You are so fortunate to come to know so early in life that you have choices. And this won’t be your last opportunity to make a choice either. So, here’s to a life full of promise and surprise!

  6. Dr. Carole Warner

    Dear Hayden,

    I so admire your courage and clarity at such a young age. At the age of 50, with a BS, MS and PhD (and the resulting student loans I had to pay off!), I find in hind sight that I wish I’d done almost exactly what you’re doing!

    I felt the same way you did when I graduated from high school, but I went ahead and did what I thought I was supposed to do…what I should do. There was an incredible amount of suffering and expense in the process and have discovered I don’t really even want to do what I’m educated to do… I’m not saying I totally regret it, but honestly wish I’d had your maturity and courage at your age.

    Congratulations on graduating from high school and for following your heart into a stimulating and worthy livelihood. Who says “work” should be work? What a blessing to find something you love so much that it’s fun and doesn’t feel like work.

    Good on ya son.

  7. Welcome Hayden; what a great way to introduce yourself. Looking forward to seeing what you do and how you make your own mark on the Pc scene. Your parents are an inspiration to many (including me). I am certain you will inspire a multitude as well with your wit and bold willingness to jump in feet first. Good luck.

  8. Kimberly Ferrier

    Hayden, It is great that you have found something to be passionate about. Doing something connected to the earth is a very good thing as well as being involved in the family business. An important thing to consider is how you deal with uncertainty. You and your family are creating your own jobs and your own life and if you can take the ups and downs of that, well, you can do anything. As long as you don’t have to go get a “job” not going to college won’t be a big deal. Structuring your business or generating other businesses that relate to it could help you and create jobs….which would also be a really good thing and generate some income. Here is a good book…”The Greatest Small Business in the World” by Michael Gerber. He goes off on some odd rants, but the business principles seem really good.

  9. Hayden,

    Congratulations young man, after spending time with you last week I cannot begin to tell you how much of a difference I saw in you from last Oct to this August. Your full of fire and ready to take charge. Thank you for all of the fine memories last week, and I am looking forward to your future posts and projects. God bless!

  10. Hi Hayden, so nice for us that you have chosen Permaculture as a career and I wish there were many more young people like you right now, as we need to set up demo sites that show the ideas working and turn many others on to this planet-saving lifestyle. Big hugs and go for it Hayden!!

  11. Carolyn Treadway

    Hello, Hayden:

    How great to begin to make your acquaintance via this post! I am very fond of your parents and the wonderful things they do, and have been for years, so it is a treat to see that you have permaculture/sustainability interests as well. I look forward to your future blog posts. Have a great time as an intern! I’m sure you will.

    Carolyn Treadway

  12. Awesome, Hayden! I’m sure you will continue to bring youthfulness, joy and new ideas to Midwest Permaculture… as well as all the computer skills that are essential in this day and age to get the word out. I appreciate your parents’ passion for their mission and your own joyful spirit will surely amplify and accelerate all the good work into all manner of new domains of activity! I’m looking forward to meeting you in person when I visit Stelle the next time. Sorry for my ignorance in not knowing that Bill and Becky had such an awesome, conscious son! BTW… I grew up in Hinsdale, where I believe your grandparents and dad also lived for some time. Keep up the great work!

  13. Welcome Hayden! Looking forward to your posts, and I LOVE the way you think–so wise for such a young man, you would think you were homeschooled and raised by really conscientious parents or something:)! Best wishes, from a crazy busy, permaculturist wannabe!

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