Among graduates of Sage Mountain is herbalist Emily Ruff, who began attending classes at Sage Mountain in 2006. Her journey with plants began in childhood learning botanical names in her backyard with her father, a botany professor. Her formal Western Herbalism studies began with an apprenticeship under herbalist George D’Arcy, founder of Florida School of Holistic Living. Emily continued to study with Rosemary each summer, completing an apprenticeship, a garden internship, assisting classes, and eventually stepping into the role of co-teacher for the Sage Mountain Teacher Training in 2014 and 2015.
Emily has served as Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living (501c3) for the last fifteen years, following the passing of the school’s founder. Following in Rosemary’s footsteps, Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to become active as a board member in the organization United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the annual Florida Herbal Conference in 2012, and served multiple terms as president of the Herb Society of Central Florida. Most recently, Emily founded the Orlando Grief Care Project, to distribute herbal aid to those impacted by the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016. Soon after, this work took her to the frontlines of earth advocacy at Standing Rock, where she organized and served with the Medic & Healer Council, and continues to serve on the board of the Mní Wičóni Clinic and Farm. Emily serves the local Vermont community as an elected member of the Town Selectboard of Orange, Vermont.
In Fall 2018, Emily helped transition Sage Mountain into a nonprofit sanctuary. Emily’s work was featured on the cover of the Business Section of the Boston Globe in July 2019 in a feature article titled “Making Medicine on the Mountain.” Emily works alongside a team of volunteers, staff, board members and supporters to steward Sage Mountain into its next era of earth awareness and environmental protection.