The Junior Farmer Program offers Hearts, Hooves, Healing, and Hope to Young Students
After school activities are fairly common for students nowadays. For some students that might be little league baseball, gymnastics, or a music lesson. HopeWell Ranch wanted to offer a different type of after school activity to five Weidman Elementary students. With backpacks in hand, the fourth grade students headed to HopeWell Ranch to spend an hour and a half working hands-on with animals, learning to garden, and participating in team building exercises. After 32 weeks the students were congratulated with a graduation ceremony and received a certificate for their newly gained “Awesome Jr. Farmer” status.
The David B. and Susan K. Keilitz Family Fund helped to support the first year that HopeWell Ranch hosted their Junior Farmer Program. HopeWell Ranch co-owners, Ty and Jodi Stuber, coordinated with the Weidman Elementary At-Risk Teacher, Angela Dey, to find students that were qualified to participate. The activities at the ranch helped these students come out of their shells, move past fears, and work on problem solving skills. After seeing the success of the pilot program, HopeWell is planning on expanding the program to other schools.
Each of the 21 sessions were broken down into five topics— equine, fowl (chickens and ducks), rabbits, goats, and gardening. Within these topics the students learned about animal care, animal breeds, and animal lifestyles. The students read books and/or related articles about the animals. Along with that, the students completed journals and worksheets to write about their experiences. Overall, HopeWell Ranch provided these students with skills and memories that will be ingrained for years to come.