Midwest Native Skills Institute, Inc. (MNSI) was conceived in 1997 by Tom Laskowski, now considered one of the top experts in outdoor and wilderness skills in North America (American Survival Guide – Nov 2014 issue).
Tom is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (1978 – BS Electrical Engineering). While there, he founded the CWRU Outdoors Club, serving as the Club’s President for three years and overseeing the club’s growth from six to more than 120 members. For the next 18 years, Tom was employed at the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company as an Engineering Marketing Representative for Cleveland’s Industrial and Commercial customers. In 1982, Tom earned his MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College.
In 1990, Tom became interested in Native American ways and ended up training with Tom Brown Jr., internationally renowned author, tracker and wilderness survival instructor. Tom then augmented this training with advanced instruction from a number of other leaders in the primitive skills field like Errette Callahan, Daniel Firehawk, Del Hall, Robert Berg and Ray Reitze (Master Maine Guide). His training with Tom Brown Jr. provided insights into the Apache ways of survival, while Master Maine Guide Reitze augmented those skills with those of the Mic-Mac tribes of northern Maine. Field experience, testing and applying the learned skills followed each skill he learned. In 1997, Tom left the corporate world to follow his dream of starting a wilderness survival school, and the Midwest Native Skills Institute was born.
A majority of Tom’s experience comes from practical application – going out into the wilderness in every season throughout the year and putting his skills to the test by applying them, refining them, and testing them again and again. Tom believes theory is a good foundation, but practical application is the true test of survival knowledge.
Tom is a highly sought-after survival expert by the media. He has made several guest appearances on Cleveland radio stations (WRUW, WGAR, etc.), is a regular guest on FOX 8 and has been featured as a survival expert on their popular “That’s Life” program discussing outdoor and wilderness skills and survival, and has been a guest several times on “The Big Wild” syndicated radio show.
Tom was consulted on the third season of the hit CBS television series“Survivor,” Field and Stream used him as a contributing source for their Survival Guide issue. Tom has been a “specialty skills” instructor at southern Ohio’s World Survival Institute, Wintercount Primitive Skills Gathering, Falling Leaves Rondeaveau, and was an invited guest assistant with Tom Brown’s “Shadow Scout” classes, the “Full Survival Wilderness Experience.”
Tom developed a new design in knife sharpeners and survival tools resulting from his field experience in using survival and wilderness equipment, which is more practical and effective than any similar item now on the market. Tom also produced two of the most comprehensive fire-making videos available, including “40+ Ways to Make Fire Without Matches,” that includes making a fire from ice, soda cans, and even the dessert Jell-O!
Glen Monaghan – Glen served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force where he received basic military survival training, learned to bail out of disabled aircraft, earned his freefall parachuting wings, and learned to survive in a bureaucracy. He has a combined 30 years of experience in research, design, development, testing and implementation, solving real-world problems using such advanced technologies as computer architecture and design, communications networks, artificial intelligence, and mobile robotics.
Along the way, Glen spent 20 years designing, developing and delivering focused, intensive short training courses that quickly and effectively transfer knowledge and skills. For the last 15 years, Glen has concentrated on mastering and teaching primitive skills to solve problems such as how to provide shelter, water, fire and food using only the resources that nature provides, in ways that make “survival” a comfortable, enjoyable and desirable way of living. Glen brings the “how and why” from his technical background to the primitive technology world to give people a unique and logical explanation of age old skills. Glen is also responsible for the lions share of the video production , editing and post production. Beware…if you ask Glen “what time is it” your might just get a lesson on how clocks work, how they are made and the different concepts of “time” around the world!
Ray Reitze Jr., former proprietor of Earthways School of Wilderness Living, author, teacher, naturalist, and Master Maine Guide lived, traveled and learned with a Micmac elder. Ray was trained in the ancient ways and now travels from Maine to California speaking, working with individuals, small groups, organizations, businesses, churches, healing centers, and medical practitioners. Ray applies his teaching from the elders in his life, his life experiences from childhood through the Viet Nam war and from results obtained from past classes. His deep and gentle teaching style is effective for individuals or groups, private or business. He devotes his life to helping people from all walks of life to find inner peace and happiness, the ancient ways are still pertinent in these modern times.
Our School Store Book Category has copies of Ray’s book “And We Shall Cast Rainbows Across the Land”.
Dave Middleditch – David’s passion for the outdoors started at a young age. He spent every chance he had hunting waterfowl with his father on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. As he grew older, he moved into hunting big game. David enjoyed hunting waterfowl, big game and trapping from Arkansas to Wyoming. David has over 37 years of hunting and trapping experience. David took his passion of hunting and became a hunting guide in the state of Maryland. While working a part-time job at a large armored car company in the state of Maryland, David became a firearms instructor. David has a great amount of experience with firearms and defensive tactics armed and unarmed. As a young kid, David was always interested in the outdoors especially survival skills, reading books, and watching videos on survival skills. David realized that he needed to do more than read books and watch survival videos.
He started his quest to become a survival instructor in 2004 by taking a class from an Apache Indian by the name of Robert Redfeather. In 2006, David took his first class from us at Midwest Native Skills and it was not his last. Each class sent him deeper on his quest. In 2007, David became a teacher’s assistant for us here at Midwest Native Skills. In 2010, David became an instructor for Midwest Native Skills. David continued on his quest by taking primitive skills classes from many other instructors such as: Ray Reitze, Richard Cleveland, Tony Nester, Madison Parker, and Kevin Estela. David will continue to learn everything that Mother Nature has to teach him and bring these skills back to the students of Midwest Native Skills.
Brad Rockwell -Brad’s interest in the outdoors started at young age by going camping, and hiking with his family. He also questioned what every plant and trees were. He is now adept in fishing, and hunting and goes backpacking as much as he can. Brad was also co-owner/chef for a banquet center for four years so if he is at your class he can make some good tasting food for your class.
In 2009 he was laid off from his job and had the time to take his first class from MNSI. In 2010 he started being a Teaching Assistant (TA) at the MNSI weekend classes. Brad has taken Survival 101, Survival 201, Homesteading series, and participated in the 2015 Maine Winter Trip. He has also attended classes from Tony Nester, Ray Reitze, and others. And he continues to take classes to further his knowledge. He is proficient with primitive traps, the bow drill fire making, and plant identification and their uses.
Jerry Dyson has been interested and practicing primitive skills at a very young age. His biggest influence was his Brother-in-law, who took him hunting, fishing, and camping whenever possible. Joining the BSA was a natural thing to do, which he was able to expand his knowledge of primitive skills. Jerry was in the military for 6 years and was able to contribute to his country, which was honor to do. After the military, Jerry has done a lot of traveling, but has now settled down and, plus getting back to the basics of primitive skills & continues to test himself in the art of primitive skills as part of his everyday living.
Jerry is our Paracord Designer and has various paracord products that can be purchased through the MNSI website, as well as going to www.paracordadventures.com website. Jerry has been known to be very creative and likes to make things that can be used for everyday use. One of his accomplishments is the “Survival Adventure Belt” that can include most of your survival needs, which can be worn daily and can be part of your EDC item.
Jerry has been one of our MNSI trainers for the past 6 years and enjoys working with our students in helping them learn the primitive skill applications that the MNSI is known for. Jerry is always eager to help our students exceed the expectations of what the school is designed to do, which is to learn and practice primitive skills as part of their everyday lives. Jerry also contributes to our MNSI YouTube channel and Facebook page.