Will’s Wild Herbs Apprenticeship Program Guidelines


Dear Applicant,

Will’s Wild Herbs Apprenticeship Program has been going on for more than 25 years. During which time, Will has had over 400 apprentices, most of whom have spent two years as apprentices. The apprenticeship program is very different from Will’s classes and workshops because of the closeness, and trust that evolves between you, the apprentice, and Will. As a result of the time invested in this program, many apprenticeships have developed into personal friendships. The Wills Wild Herbs apprenticeship program is essential to Will's business function and is one of the most satisfying things he has done in his 40 years as an herbalist. Will believes deeply in the oral tradition - which is a very fragile one - and it is primarily the apprentices who carry on the practice of herbalism for future generations.

To make his knowledge as widely available as possible, Will has never charged for this program.  Will is very aware that most similarly experienced herbalists around the country charge a great deal of money for such an apprenticeship. Please also realize that Will’s particular expertise is in truly ethical wildcrafting, not simply growing herbs. 

For the sake of his business and his apprentices, Will has come up with the following guidelines for mutual understanding and trust. These guidelines will be the basis for a discussion with Will after the application process has been finalized.

Prerequisites: Please read these guidelines thoroughly before applying. You will be required to sign non-legally binding copies of them, one for you and one for Will. After reading these guidelines, please call Will at (919) 451-66 to have a brief discussion, and to ensure that Will is currently accepting applicants to the apprenticeship program. Now, the program is limited to 3 participants. When this limit is reached, all new applicants will be added to a waiting list upon completion of the formal application process. You must attend a minimum of 4 classes before applying.  All new applicants to the apprenticeship program are required to pay a fee of $274 for their first month of apprenticeship.  Once this fee, as well as the requisite month has been met, and both Will and the apprenticeship applicant have fully committed to a minimum of 52 weeks of apprenticeship, no further payments need be made to Will to continue participation in the apprenticeship program.

The hours are firmly 8a-5p on Fridays only. While two years is preferred, apprentices must commit to a minimum of 52 Fridays, and since we will not be meeting every Friday, the commitment will take significantly longer than one calendar year. Missed days because of personal, or family illness do not count. Neither do the Fridays that Will is gone, nor the holiday Fridays mentioned below. Will will probably work on Good Friday, Thanksgiving Friday (and Christmas Friday) but he doesn’t expect the apprentices to do so if they do not wish to. Will takes many short 3-5 day trips that sometimes affect Friday apprenticeship, and he also makes a 14-17 day summer gathering trip in the West Virginia, and/or North Carolina mountains, and a 3-8 week trip in September, October, and sometimes early November. Apprentices are sometimes invited on the summer and fall trips, but they are not required to go. The trips are to locations that are 6-8 hours from Hillsborough. As well, in 2013 Will spent seven weeks in the Florida Keys, collecting, selling, and teaching about herbs. Usually this is an 8-9 week trip taken from mid-December to the end of February. This Florida trip does not necessarily happen every year. The Fridays that Will is gone, and you are not with him, do not count towards completion of the 52-week apprenticeship program.

The year commitment includes a one month trial period.

20% of each work day (1 ¾ hours) will be devoted to teaching.

Teaching time is tailored to the individual’s interests, and/or what Will believes the individual needs to learn.

Some circumstances, or projects, may prevent, or shorten teaching time. If this is the case, the missed teaching time will be made up, generally within the month.

The remainder of the time will be spent cleaning, rubbing, sifting, grinding, extracting, bottling, drying, packing bags, and orders, and inventorying the 70+ herbs that Will’s Wild Herbs produces. Most people, including Will, enjoy gathering herbs most of all, but gathering only accounts for 20-25% of the work that needs to be put into fully processing the herbs. Gathering herbs is always considered teaching time.

Every week is unique. Sometimes tasks are repeated, but there is always a balance of activities.

This program often requires menial, monotonous work, and is sometimes strenuous, or vigorous, but it is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. It’s through such work that an individual begins to develop a relationship to the herbs.

An apprentice needs to be flexible, and willing to do various jobs according to the plants, the weather, and Will’s needs.

Upon expressing interest in the apprenticeship program, applicants must complete all of the following:

Listen to Will’s various radio and podcast interviews to understand a little bit more about his previous experiences, and what he has to offer. This interview can be found on the website a, https://www.willswildherbs.org/resources/

Please write Will a letter, or email, telling him why you want to be an apprentice, and what you intend to do with the knowledge, and experience that you will gain. Include complete information about yourself, such as places you’ve lived, where you live now, allergies, physical limitations, educational, work experience, family background, and what you do for fun.

Send three professional and/or personal references with contact info such as e-mail, or phone number

During the one month trial period, you must attend a farmers market from open to close (as early as 6a-1p.) This is an opportunity to see what Will has to offer in terms of products, and customer service.

Normal work ethics apply. Personal or family illness is an acceptable reason to miss a day. Apprentices are expected to arrive promptly at 8a and to call if they are expecting to come 15 or more minutes late. If tardiness becomes a habit, the time will be deducted from the personal teaching time.

Apprentices are required to bring the following items every time:

A daypack, standard size 8 ½ x 11-inch spiral-bound notebook, pen, and ¾ inch wide clear scotch tape.

A rain jacket, rain pants, rain boots, and a rain/sun hat. Ask Will what cold weather or hot weather gear you will need.

64 or more fluid oz of water for the day, and plenty of snacks. A bag lunch unless notified not to, by the Friday before.

A sturdy folding pocket knife

A copy of Peterson field guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern/North-Central North America by Robert Tory Peterson and Margaret McKinney. This can be found on Amazon starting at $8. Please buy the softcover edition. Please don’t buy the other two similar Peterson’s guidebooks until you get this one.

Optional: A copy of The Way Of Herbs, by Michael Tierra. This can be found on Amazon starting at $5. Softcover edition also recommended.

Apprentices will be given a one hr break for lunch. The lunch hour will be shared with Will and other apprentices. This hour will not be used for personal errands.

Personal consultations are not included in the apprenticeship program. If an apprentice wants a personal, confidential, medicinal consultation, the rate will be lowered from $60 to $45 an hour and needs to be scheduled for a non-apprentice day. Apprentices are also given a 10% discount on all herbs.

Apprentices will be gathering for Will’s Wild Herbs, not for their personal use. Occasionally, there are enough herbs for the apprentices to collect for themselves. Most of Will’s gathering sites have been hard-earned, and are not places that Will expects apprentices to collect from for personal use. This same rule applies to places that Will travels to, and visits in North Carolina and surrounding states including, but not limited to Virginia, and West Virginia.

No cell phones. Cellphone use outside of the lunch hour will not be tolerated. 

Smoking and eating will not be allowed while handling the herbs.

No photo, video, or audio recording without Will’s prior approval. If approved to record, all media is for personal use only, and no recording of any type should be shared publicly

Please let will know ahead of each apprentice day if you do not want to be included in the film, and audios that various peoples do on apprentice day.

This opportunity will require a lot of hard work, and commitment, but is a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience.

Memo of Understanding for Non-Competition

As an Apprentice of Will’s Wild Herbs, the undersigned agrees not to compete with either Will’s Wild Herbs or Will Endres by participating in any of the below-mentioned activities:  

Herb related sales at any farmers market within a 100-mile radius of Hillsborough, NC

Bulk herb sales to the following companies:

BC Compassion Club Society

Herb Pharm

Herbalist & Alchemist

Eclectic Institute

Avena Botanicals

Mountain Rose Herbs

The teaching of wildcrafting classes including herbal harvest, preparation, formulation, and packaging within a 100-mile radius of Hillsborough, NC

Dates of the above agreement shall extend to 2 years after completing will’s one-year minimum (52 Fridays being present) as described in the attached Will’s Wild Herbs Apprenticeship program guidelines.

These terms are acceptable to me


(Apprentice's name)


(Today's date)