The Natural Funeral founders are Prescott Knock, MA, Karen van Vuuren and Daniel Ziskin, PhD, pictured above.
The Natural Funeral Team includes, Prescott Knock, MA. Karen van Vuuren, Daniel Ziskin, PhD and Eddie Volk.
Prescott Knock’s multidisciplinary background makes him well suited to the implementation and management of The Natural Funeral. His skills include business management, marketing, and for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurship. Prescott also has professional experience in the end-of-life industry with many connections in health care. With degrees in religious and ritual studies, he is well-known within our local religious and spiritual communities, and also in the world of ecological stewardship.
Since 2009, Prescott has worked deeply with hospice and home care, and with issues related to seniors. He formerly headed marketing, community outreach and education, and care coordination for New Century Hospice and Family Hospice of Boulder, Colorado. He was formerly director of business development for Windhorse Elder Care managing all aspects of the business from initial intake to coordinating the care team.
Prescott has been active in many local organizations dealing with end-of-life issues. He is a board member of The Contemplative End-of-Life Project and Project Manager for Aging Well in Lyons: Community, Connections & Resources. He is a council member of Conversations on Death, and founding member of the Boulder County Death Cafe. His connections to environmental organizations include the Inter-Faith Coalition for Food Sustainability, and support for Local Food Shift.
Prescott has a masters degree in religious studies, with an emphasis on Buddhism and Sanskrit. He also has a masters degree in philosophy of religion with an emphasis on ritual studies. He’s extensively studied the ritual and ceremonial traditions of many cultures and is particularly interested in rites of passage for funeral and birth. Prescott is the executive director of The Buddhist Coalition and co-producer and co-host of The Collaborative Community radio show on Boulder’s KGNU 88.5FM.
Karen van Vuuren has been a natural death care educator and end-of-life transitions guide since 2001. In 2003, she founded the non-profit Boulder-based organization, Natural Transitions, and has been the executive director since then. As a transition guide for Natural Transitions, Karen has supported hundreds of families to participate in green and holistic home-based death care.
Karen has organized and taught workshops on natural death care in Colorado and in other venues across the US. She is considered a pioneer of green and holistic funeral care in the US. Karen is a founding member of the National Home Funeral Alliance and in 2008, organized the first national green burial conference in the US.
Since 2011, Karen has worked as the managing editor of Natural Transitions Magazine, a biannual publication, distributed nationally and internationally. The magazine focuses on holistic and green approaches to end of life. Here is a link to a recent issue.
In addition, Karen is an award-winning documentary-maker. Her work on end-of-life issues has screened at film festivals nationally, and at the annual clinical conferences of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Her two hospice documentaries on end-of-life are Dying Wish (a dying doctor’s decision to stop eating and drinking, 2008) and Go in Peace! (the caregiver’s role in healing the soul wounds of veterans with trauma, 2015).
Karen has also worked in independent and public radio as a reporter, and has produced radio documentaries. Her feature on wilderness rites of passage led by hospice physician and author, Dr. Scott Eberle, The Practice of Living and Dying, aired on National Public Radio.
Karen is a contributing author (as a non-Buddhist, but a Buddhist fan) to Andrew Holecek’s book, Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition.
Finally, Karen and her husband, Jamie (author and math missionary), own a math book publishing business Jamie York Press Inc. Karen is the business manager and public relations director. Her responsibilities range from organizing workshops to dealing with customer inquiries and managing the company’s online presence.
Daniel Ziskin is an Earth scientist, working for NASA, NOAA and currently NCAR. Although his professional specialty is data management of satellite observations, his life-long passion has been as an environmentalist. He has channeled that interest into service on the boards of many environmental, animal welfare and civic nonprofits. Currently he sits on these boards:
In addition to his scientific and nonprofit work, Daniel has been an entrepreneur. He owns and operates a computer support business called Escape Goat Data. Especially relevant, he has acquired start-up experience working as a co-founder of BEECO Corp. and Earthship Village Colorado.
Edrea D. Volk (Eddie) graduated from New England College in New Hampshire with a BA in Marketing in 1985. An epiphany led her to mortuary science, and she has never regretted the path that opened up before her as a result. Early on she was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Karen van Vuuren whose passion sparked her interest in natural funeral and burial practices.
In 2010, Eddie graduated with an Associate Degree of Mortuary Science. She became a Funeral Director for a corporation owning multiple funeral homes in the Denver Metro area. She’s incredibly grateful to all the families she helped through a very difficult process over the years. And she continues to feel called to work with people during end-of-life transition.
Eddie left the funeral industry in 2014. The approach to death care and sales practices of corporate funeral America was not a fit. She had remained in contact with Karen and a meeting a few years ago has allowed her to join in the birth of The Natural Funeral. A long-time resident of Lafayette, Colorado, Eddie is honored to join this group of authentic individuals to create a living arts center for holistic end-of-life education and green funerary care.