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International School for Earth Studies (ISES)

Geoffrey Cushing
Director of Operations


The International School for Earth Studies (ISES), formerly Cushing Nature Retreat, is a leadership school promoting education that builds bridges between Youth, Nature and our Global Village. Through experiential learning that blends elements of the natural world, animal husbandry and non-motorized outdoor recreation, ISES offers a nurturing, challenging and inspiring milieu for young men and women wanting to explore Earth-based studies and recreation. Students are welcomed into a safe, family-centered environment that encourages and supports individuality, self-exploration and personal goal setting.

Our resident animals play an integral role in student character building. The ISES animal husbandry program engages students with husky dogs, horses, birds of prey and rehabilitating wild animals through animal grooming, nutrition and conditioning. Participation in stimulating seasonal activities such as dog carting, dog sledding, horse back riding, carriage and sleigh driving gives students knowledge and insight into the needs, fears and pleasures of our non-human residents.

ISES brings together a unique network of independent professional instructors who contribute vast experience to our multi-dimensional classroom. Certification and accreditation for high school, and college level instruction are offered through our varied workshops, courses and programs. Our ‘school yard’ consists of over 250 hectares of unique biodiversity – streams, marshes, lakes, meadows, pastures, rolling hills, and new and old growth forests. This natural world provides endless opportunities for students to discover and observe interdependent ecosystems. Participants identify edible and medicinal herbs, develop basic wilderness survival skills, and discover the natural world as inspiring, engaging and educational.

Ultimately, through our resident animals, our hands-on approach to learning, and the natural environment that envelops ISES, students develop a greater sense of respect and appreciation for the world around them, expand personal leadership qualities, and better define how they visualize their futures within an environmentally sustainable Global Village.

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