Self-sufficiency involves a lot more than buying all the cool-looking gear advertised online and in magazines. Embarking on a self-reliant or off-the-grid lifestyle also involves education and training.
Regardless of where you call home, there are a plethora of on-site and even online self-reliance training classes you can – and should – consider taking.
Here are 10:
1. Disaster Preparedness. FEMA/CERT training classes are routinely used to educate emergency responders and rescue teams around the United States. FEMA definitely does not have a stellar record for quickly and adequately mobilizing during a disaster, but the extremely specific educational courses have been deemed as top-notch by police, EMS, fire, and Red Cross crews.
2. Medical Preparedness. American Red Cross CPR and first aid training is an inexpensive way to garner the emergency medical skills that could one day save the life of a loved one. Red Cross programs exist in virtually every county in America. Community colleges and other social service agencies often host the training programs several times per year.
3. Emergency Communications. Amateur or HAM radio training can also help you keep in touch with not only loved ones away from home when disaster strikes, but with the outside world, as well. The ARRL, an association for amateur radio operators, is a great resource for training opportunities. HAM radio clubs host group training exercises at least once per year. The family friendly events may also present the opportunity to commune with like-minded folks who are eager to become more self-reliant.
4. Gun Training. The National Rifle Association (NRA) offer gun training classes for both beginners and advanced shooters. The NRA even teachers gunsmithing, game hunting specific, and youth programs. The gun training emphasizes safety and proper cleaning procedures as well.
5. Mormon (LDS) Canning Classes. Mormon canneries, if you are fortunate enough to live near one, offer low-cost long-term food storage items. The only thing better than driving to an LDS cannery or purchasing their offerings online, is being able to master the canning skills yourself. Home canning in Mason jars is common for many preppers, homesteading and off-the-grid families. Training courses are available at many of the Mormon cannery locations.
6. Soap and Candles. Candle and soap making classes are offered at many hobby shops, and free online videos are also helpful for those who do not need a structured classroom to facilitate learning.
7. Industrial Arts. Shop classes were once commonplace in American middle and high schools, but due to budget constraints and liability lawsuits, many such courses are now a thing of the past. Adult career centers and community colleges often offer career diplomas and individual training courses to enhance woodworking, automotive, electrical and welding skills. The knowledge gained from adult shop courses will save money when home or vehicle repairs are needed.
8. Veterinary Assistant or Technician Courses. Many of us treat our pets as members of the family, so learning how to keep them healthy is a worthwhile goal, but that is not the primary reason to take a vet tech or vet assistant course. If the power grid fails or other major disaster strikes, we will not be able to call a doctor, a dentist or a veterinarian. Keeping livestock healthy is integral to the survival of our family. If financially feasible, embark on some farrier training, as well. If we are jetted back in time and move about primarily on horseback, shoeing will become an essential skill as well.
9. Wilderness Skills and Orienteering Classes. Both state and federal natural resources officers routinely schedule backpacking, map reading, and basic wilderness survival skills classes each spring and summer. If using the GPS in your car is not an option, or you are forced to walk home from work and avoid populated areas, some basic backpacking and orienteering knowledge can mean the difference between life and death.
10. Gardening. Community garden or seed exchange clubs, or perhaps even the local Grange association are great places to learn how to enhance your green thumb. Growing your own food is merely a lifestyle choice now, but would quickly evolve into a necessity during a crisis. Even experienced gardeners and farmers could benefit from a refresher course or forum designed to keep growers aware of potential environmental threats and insect infestations which could ruin a harvest. Beekeeping courses should also be considered a long-term investment in the quest to become more self-reliant.