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joeeckreMy name is Joe Eckre. My friends call me Surya.

When I was in the first grade, my father took an interest in nutrition and vitamins. He had problems with his energy level and his new diet and supplements paid off for him. He was feeling much better. I was having trouble paying attention in school and my grades were low. My parents changed my diet. I said goodbye to Pop Tarts and Froot Loops and started taking vitamins. My grades went up immediately. That made a big impression on me. Later, I watched as my father avoided an impending surgery using a natural remedy. I was very lucky to have a father who was willing to look beyond the limitations of western medicine and empower himself with natural solutions.

I was fortunate to spend the latter part of my childhood in the small town of Ojai, California, where there was plenty of opportunity to hike in the local mountains which were full of healing herbs. I didn't know they were there, but the sights and smells and buzzing of the bees in those mountains was always a comfort to me. I had my first pivotal experience with herbs when I was coming down with a cold. My brother handed me a small box of  Dr. Esteban's Purifying Formula. I took some of it and I was amazed I was not sick when I woke up the next day. Later, I took up identifying wildflowers in the local mountains and learned how many of the herbs I'd been reading about were those same plants. My trust in herbs and awareness of the benevolence of the earth began to grow as I spent time in those mountains. One day, while hiking with a friend of mine who was having a difficult spasmodic cough, we happened upon a stand of yerba santa. I took a leaf from the plant and told her to nibble on it. We were both amazed by how her cough stopped immediately.

In the late '80s, Michael Tierra's book, The Way of Herbs, caught my eye in the local herb store. It has always been a good reference for me and when I saw there was a school for his Planetary Herbology, I felt it could be a great opportunity to not only grow a deeper intimacy with the herbs that have been so good to me in my life, but to have the skills necessary to reach the goal of  sharing this gift with others and helping them to choose the herbs that best suit who they are. I joined East West in March of 2009. This school has been a great gift in my life.

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