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Skills Intensive Course Instructor Bios


Mark Dorsten fell in love with the outdoors as a child while exploring the woods of the Midwest. In 1995 he moved to Arizona to attend Prescott College, and earned his BA in Experiential Education and Human Development in 1999. Mark was introduced to Cody Lundin in 1997 as a student in the month long Prescott College Aboriginal Living Skills course. This experience opened his eyes to the primal connection of learning the skills once essential for survival to all our ancestors, and all but lost in modern society.  

For his college senior project, Mark designed a primitive skills curriculum for Skyview Elementary School as part of their Arizona history unit for fourth grade classes. This experience culminated in a six-month project where he supervised the design, excavation and construction of a Native American-style pit house on the grounds of the Skyview campus.  Entirely constructed by fourth graders under Mark’s facilitation, the shelter was used by the school as an annex classroom for several years.

 Mark continued his education with Cody by co-instructing his Prescott College Aboriginal Living Skills course from 1998 through 2001 and was the lead instructor in 2002. Mark was a lead instructor for Prescott College’s Wilderness Orientation Program (three week long cross country back packing trips) from 1999 through 2002. Over the past decade, his field experience includes assisting on every ALSS field course as well as spearheading and teaching ALSS Quick Courses. Mark has assisted Cody at Sharlot Hall Museum with primitive skills demonstrations as well as worked with The Highlands Center for Natural History, the City of Prescott, and home school students to develop and teach primitive and survival skills curriculums for adults and youth.    

In addition to being an instructor and co-instructor for ALSS field courses, Mark is the Director of Field Operations and Logistics for ALSS where his responsibilities include course development and reconnaissance, permitting and permit acquisition, risk management, reconnaissance of access routes, logistics, field backup, transportation coordination, course registration and enrollment management, meal planning and gear selection, purchasing, and maintenance.

From 1999 to 2001, Mark assisted for weeks in the construction of Cody’s rural, off-the-grid homestead; doing everything from creating rebar parabolas to concrete work. He is currently renovating his property in Prescott to be an urban homestead and hopes to someday showcase it as part of ALSS’s Self-Reliance Symposium class.
Mark’s passions include sustainable retrofits of existing structures, solar installation, ultra-light backpacking, sharing time with his family and introducing his daughter to the wonders of nature.


John OlsenAbout John Olsen: John became interested in primitive pottery in the early 1970’s while he was an art major in college. He has more than 45 years of experience and is renowned as one of the best primitive potters in North America where his main focus has been virgin Anasazi pottery of the Southwest.  He has been hired by numerous museums to replicate pottery specimens for display and has worked for the BLM locating native clays across southern Utah and northern Arizona. He has performed tests on more than 39 clays to date which will be archived in the archeological record.

John has taught numerous pottery workshops for state and national parks as well as for private parties. He is self-taught and teaches “old style,” locating and seasoning his own native clays, preparing his own tempers, paint pigments, and brushes from the natural world. All firing is done with local woods in the outdoors. John’s passion is to teach people how to make correct style pottery that is both functional and stunning like the worlds ancient potters before him.