Lecture Topics

Mark Warren has spent a lifetime teaching nature and primitive skills to students and groups around the country and at his nationally renowned wilderness school, Medicine Bow, located in the mountains of North Georgia.

Warren is also a Western Historian, researching the Frontier West and figures such as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Billy (the Kid) Bonney for more than 60 years. He has lectured at venues across the country. Warren has written an award-winning trilogy on the life of Wyatt Earp Wyatt Earp, An American Odyssey, and his newest book is on the life of Billy the Kid, A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney.

Mark Warren offers programming in both nature studies, primitive skills, and Western studies. He has presented at museums and cultural centers around the country. He also presents for botanical gardens, native plant societies, school groups, and historical societies. Below you will find several lecture topics that he can offer to your organization. If you are interested in having Mr. Warren present to your group, contact his publicist for more information at markwarrenbooks(at)att.net.

A Writer’s Journey – After being nominated many times for Georgia Author of the Year, Mark Warren was finally named a 2022 Georgia Author of the Year for his novel Song of the Horseman (Finalist, Literary Fiction.) Although Mark has been writing for most of his life, the road to publication has been a long journey fraught with disappointments. Mark’s career as a naturalist and teacher of primitive skills makes itself known in each of his novels, making true the adage that says “write about what you know.” His research into the history of the American West has also guided him toward projects about some of our most controversial Western personalities. Find out more about Mark Warren and his road to become an award-winning writer in this personal and candid talk. (Warren has also been honored by the Spur Awards, the Will Rogers Medallion Awards, The Historical Novel Society, and the Peacemaker Awards.)

The Forest’s Gifts of Food, Medicine and Craft As Practiced By the Native Americans

Mark Warren, owner of the nationally renowned Medicine Bow Wilderness School in Dahlonega, GA, has been teaching about native plants, trees, and survival skills to adults and children for over half a century.

Mark believes today’s society can — and should — learn some valuable lessons and skills regarding the use of native plants for food, medicine, insect repellent, craft, shelter and fire. In addition to a slide presentation, Mark will bring along some handmade crafts for viewing and discussion.

Quote from Mark, “Most folks today have reduced nature to a backdrop of scenery. The great deficit in this scenario is our lack of understanding that we still depend upon nature. Air to breathe, water to drink, energy to consume for our daily actions. These are commodities that are easy to take for granted, and, if they are, future generations will have no reason to respect and conserve the pieces of the puzzle we call ecology.”

Seeing the Forest Through the Eyes of the Native Americans~ An easy walk through the forest to learn about the gifts of nature~ (A maximum of 13 participants.)

To understand that the forest supplied everything that the original Native American inhabitants needed is to grasp the essence of life in America before Columbus. In this program the familiar is elevated to the unique. We’ll explore the use of wild plants for foods and medicines. With a little imagination, participants can step back in time to pre-Columbian days. These resources still exist around us and continue to be useful.

A History of Native People in Southern Appalachia ~ (A talk and show-and-tell.)

This program reveals how the land of Southern Appalachia dictated the lifestyle of the people who first inhabited it. The mountains, the plants, the animals, and the geology all played their parts. The daily life of early people was guided by an intimacy and reverence for nature that our present white culture has not tried to emulate. The result of this oversight is revealed in our lack of understanding about the forest and in the careless treatment of the environment.

This program includes a great deal of show-and-tell items brought by the presenter to share with the audience.  Learn about early crafts, weapons, hunting techniques, attitudes, clothing, tools, foods, medicines, and games.

Survival Tricks of the Trail ~A talk for hiking groups – a lecture and photo presentation.

In this program Mark shares some easy-to-use native plant medicines and practical materials for trail hikers and all lovers of the great outdoors. He covers many easy-to-identify plant remedies for bee sting, fire ants, stinging nettle, poison ivy, nausea, mouth sores, minor infection, inflammation, food- or water-poisoning, constipation, and diarrhea. Also included are natural insect repellents. And last, but not least, Mark presents some great tips for successfully observing wildlife.

Edible Wild Plants of Southern Appalachia – a lecture and photo presentation.

Learn about the nutritious wild plants of our region, including native species and those introduced (from other countries) that are now naturalized as part of our environment. Most of these specimens give us a look at the plant menu of the original inhabitants. Additionally, Mark Warren will discuss techniques of preparing foods. This will be a conversational program and questions from the audience are encouraged.

Native American Medicines of the Southeasta lecture and photo presentation.

The diverse flora of the Southeast once provided everything that was needed by the original inhabitants. Our modern day ignoring of these gifts is what separates us from a life of truly interacting with nature on an intimate level. And that loss has, no doubt, contributed to our careless handling of the land. The good news is that this trend can be reversed, one person at a time. This program covers plants that may be used for common ailments, ranging from minor cuts, stings, head lice, and rashes to gall stones, dysentery, nausea, and skin cancer. Techniques for field preparations are included.

The Art of Stalking for Photographers, Wildlife Observers, and Hunters ~ a group class on “how to,” not an expedition to sight wildlife, which necessarily requires a solo effort.

All native hunters adopted some method of reducing the distance between hunter and prey. There were several techniques. Whether one hunts or not, simply getting close enough to a wild creature to observe its lifestyle is a worthwhile adventure for anyone. This presentation will impart the physical and mental discipline for approaching an animal by a motion that remains invisible in the peripheral vision of prey. It is this mode of vision that animals use as a general “radar” system to be on the lookout for danger. This class is athletic and self-focusing. It tests and boosts balance, strength, and patience.

Storytelling  & Ceremony, Secret Tips for Parents, Grandparents, Scout Leaders, Schoolteachers, and Other Educators ~ a lecture.

Mark Warren has been using storytelling and ceremony as a component of his nature teaching for more than 50 years. At Medicine Bow – his wilderness school in the mountains of Georgia – he preserves some traditional legends and rites, but perhaps more importantly he has introduced original tales and rituals that serve his nature lessons and help to build the self-esteem of his students.

The right story is like a seed planted in a fertile mind, providing a perfect stepping-off place for any adventure. Whether seated around a campfire at night or gathered in the shade of a hemlock tree at noon, students of all ages can be treated to an entertaining tale designed to kick-start the mastering of a physical skill coming up on their agenda: fire making, plant study, archery, animal study, conservation, orienteering, camp crafts, etc. Such a self-visualized “preview” can be shaped in perfect accordance with the teacher’s goals.

Ceremony – largely lost in the current American culture – brings to life an invisible abstraction, like bravery, determination, generosity, or empathy. It places the student on a personal and private path of self-improvement “to be the best of who he/she can be” . . . by choice! Ceremony can open the door to an intimate relationship with nature. It in no way trespasses upon religious beliefs, but concentrates on bettering oneself, no matter what his/her spiritual leanings.

Design in Nature ~ a lecture and photo presentation.

Nature has a quiet, invisible force always pushing plants and animals toward success. We will have a look at both the botanical and animal sides of this, with our emphasis on native plants. What we see in our lifetime is the present version of each particular species’ state of success, and it is worthwhile to remember two things about this phenomenon:

  1. What you see before you is necessarily a view of what has proved to be successful up to now.
  2. But the process is still ongoing. The force never sleeps.

We can study a common feature of any plant: a prickly spine, a cluster of tiny hairs, the shape of a leaf, a color from a botanical pigment, the length of a flower stalk, a scent, a tasty flavor, etc. These everyday details of plants can be looked at from an entirely new perspective, giving us even more respect for that plant’s design and purpose. These little architectural or functional points are speaking out to us, telling us of the struggle to survive, and demonstrating the brilliant solutions that nature has bestowed. This program leads an audience toward stories as old as time itself.

Another thought-provoking part of this class in design involves identifying human inventions that were inspired by specific natural items.

Warren’s expertise as a western historian makes him uniquely qualified to speak on a variety of subjects about the “Old West.”

OUR FAVORITE OUTLAW OF THE AMERICAN WEST – A lecture and photo presentation.

In the late 19th century a young man named Henry McCarty changed his name to William H. Bonney and became one of the best known historical characters of our Western mythology. We know him as “Billy the Kid.” Interest in “the Kid” continues to grow as new information comes to light to reveal the fascinating personality of a boy orphaned at the age of 14 and cast out into the violent world of 1870’s New Mexico Territory.

Determined to survive, Billy fell in with seasoned outlaws who schooled him in a life of crime. It wasn’t long before he was forced to kill when a bully overpowered him.

After trying a career at rustling livestock, Billy chose to go straight. But his intentions were derailed by the Lincoln County War, which began with the assassination of Billy’s newly found mentor and boss. Now there would be more killings by his hand, but, an argument could be made for these murders being justified – even righteous – in a land whose court system and government agents were so corrupt that eventually the President of the United States was forced to intervene

As the momentum of the war rolled on, Billy – still a teenager – found himself elevated to the role of leadership among his companions. He lived a short life to the age of 21, when Sheriff Pat Garrett infamously killed him inside a darkened room at night.

            Who was this young Irish lad who was so loved by the Hispanic community of the Southwest? How was he able to remain so likeable, courteous, and full of fun when others around him had hardened to stone to endure a violent lifestyle? This probe into the mind of Billy Bonney and the war-torn land that he loved may give an audience a new understanding of the dichotomous nature of history. One person’s “bad man” is another person’s “good guy.”

Warren’s new historical novel on the life of Billy the Kid entitled A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney releases on March 22, 2023 and includes one of Mr. Warren’s original compositions.

The Rocky Road of Researching Wyatt Earp ~ a lecture and photo presentation.

If you were dictating your experiences to an ambitious writer hungry for your life story, are there episodes from your past that you would simply not mention? This is one of the human propensities that can taint a biography based solely upon the reminiscences of its protagonist. Add to this research-deterrent a taciturn personality—a man whose speech was so laconic that most of his answers were delivered in monotonic phrases that only occasionally extended to full-length sentences.

Naturally, a thorough researcher must expand his or her sources to include the perspectives of others. With Wyatt Earp, this external probe ran into a conundrum for the historians back in the first half of the twentieth century, when many of those peripheral characters were still alive. It seems that Earp’s contemporaries fell into two camps: those who admired him and threw their allegiance his way . . . and those who detested him. Of that latter group, their descendants still carry that torch today and would love nothing more than to incinerate his heroic myth.

So which is it? He was a stalwart officer of the law. He was a criminal. He would spontaneously face a danger alone without hesitation. He was a dissimulator who always ran with a gang to back him up. He stood for the law and for the definition of duty. He was an opportunist who wore a badge for personal gain.

No man is just one thing. No man has a spotless record. For a writer, balancing all the elements of truth is an artful endeavor. With Earp this process has been made all the more problematic by the bias of historians, themselves. Sanitized versions of Wyatt Earp’s life fill library book shelves. Right next to them are the condemning anti-Earp publications. It would seem impossible for a present day reader to draw a reasonable conclusion about the man.

Author Mark Warren discusses his Earp experiences that span 63 years of research from Georgia to California. His award-winning trilogy entitled “Wyatt Earp, An American Odyssey” is a story of balance, incorporating all the known facts about the famous peace officer’s life and his perspective on the principles by which Earp lived his life—and why he sometimes veered from that credo.

What Made Wyatt Earp Tick? ~ A lecture and photo presentation.

Many historians have attempted to dissect the personality of Wyatt Earp, calling him a complex man with contradictory callings. He was, in fact, a very simple man with a straight-forward demeanor. His physical prowess put him in a commanding position among other men, but his confidence and deliberation were the palpable forces that made others fear or admire him.

After 63 years of research, author and Western historian Mark Warren reveals the true nature of Wyatt Earp and explains why he has deservedly entered the pantheon of American heroes. Come join us for a slide presentation of “all things Earp!”

The Cowboy’s Place in America’s Self-Image – a lecture and photo presentation.

America’s concept of its Wild West has played a big part in defining its collective psyche as a nation. In the early 20th century the laconic cowboy emerged as a unique standard for independence, self-reliance, Victorian courtesy, and unbending courage. In 1902 Owen Wister gave us The Virginian as the opening act to this iconic story of the lowly cowhand as a noble protagonist. His character was a welcome change from the death-defying pulp heroes from the pens of sensationalist writers such as Ned Buntline and George Ward Nichols. Americans now had a hero from the common ranks of the everyday worker.

The West offered a unique venue for a man to begin his life anew . . . no questions asked. After the Civil War there was a great demand for such an option. 

Modern journalists like to write of a celebrity “reinventing” himself or herself, imparting to the reader the sense of a phony agenda. But isn’t a man allowed to be whomever he chooses, if his entire will is dedicated to that goal? And doesn’t war force a man into that choice? For if not, isn’t that man inured to killing destined to become a stigma in his own society? An outlaw? These are the kinds of ideas to be explored in this discussion

For information on scheduling Mark Warren for a program, please contact his publicist, Susan Brown, at markwarrenbooks(at)att.net.