About Eustace

Eustace Conway

Eustace was born in 1961 in Columbia, South Carolina. His parents, both highly educated, inspired naturalists gave him unlimited freedom to explore the deep forests behind their house. From the time he was a toddler, he roamed the wild country. Nature was his primary friend and teacher. His parents gave him models of self empowerment & ‘can-do’ self sufficiency. He became engrossed in the study of native culture and celebrated connection with the land based on respect, knowledge, and reverence for kinship with nature. At age 17 he moved out into the forest full time and has been there ever since - hunting, gathering and loving that natural connection.

During his young exploration period he crafted passing rites for himself, a few of which include: canoeing over 1000 miles of the Mississippi River at age 18, walking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail before turning 20, hitching all over America’s highways, riding his horse from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts, driving a team of horses thousands of miles across the Canadian plains, exploring the most remote areas of Guatemala, kayaking across southern Alaska, and rock climbing in Tasmania. These and many other adventures helped him to test himself, learn his limits, and get a solid footing in reality. He attended Gaston College and then graduated magna cum laude from Appalachian State University with a double major in Anthropology and English. He lived in a tipi for 17 years, then built a traditional log house with an ax and adze. He realized early on in life the importance of American youth having a deeper connection with nature and began public speaking with a passion - preaching a “get back to the land” attitude and speaking on the importance of knowing, understanding, and having a reverence for “where your stuff comes from”; basically, a hands on study of America’s hidden economy.

After years of being a celebrated public speaker and highly visible role model, generating hundreds of in-depth reports in the media, he decided he had to create a home-base on the land to provide a place for people to experience personal contact with a pristine wilderness camp. He bought hundreds of acres of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and designed a unique educational program. Conway has built, directed, and maintained it with the help of interns and friends since 1987. He considers this his most accomplished contribution. He is proud to have sustained a highly accomplished program on an “impossible” budget while making a deep transformational impact on thousands of students, enriching their lives forever.

After over 20 years of refuge at the preserve, he has occasionally left the forest in recent years to address audiences at universities and environmentally based summits. Eustace has been featured several times on NPR, including “This American Life” with Ira Glass. He is the subject of award winning author Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “The Last American Man.” An independent documentary film – “Full Circle – A Life Story of Eustace Conway” was released in 2001. Eustace is one of the featured personalities in both the documentary “Reconvergence” and the History Channel series “Mountain Men.” On his own, he produced several how-to videos on traditional living and he and his farmstead were highlighted on the PBS show “Folkways” – with historian David Holt. He continues to finance, design, and direct the multi-faceted educational programs on the forested campus of Turtle Island Preserve a 501c3 nonprofit environmental education center and Appalachian heritage farm in the mountains of Boone, NC where he resides to this day.