After the quiet lull of winter, spring weather brought many groups to the farm. Out of Baltimore, ‘So What Else’ arrived with students from the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts for a leadership retreat. This organization creates programming for under served youth, with an emphasis on volunteerism and a strong sense of community. During their three days at ThorpeWood, this group took part in our Equine Assisted Learning program, did yoga in our homestead barn, went on an ‘edible hike,’ in which they taste-tested edible plants on our farm and in the woods, visited with and fed our animals, among a great many other activities.
Just a few days later, the lovely ladies of the Empowering Community Leaders Network (ECLN) came to the farm. This organization runs a middle school girls’ program, focused on developing early leadership skills. As part of that mission, they came to ThorpeWood for our Equine Assisted Learning program.
During this, one of the girls showed great determination in moving our horse, Thokkadis. She boldly tried many different approaches, asked the others in her group to follow her example, and smiled brilliantly at her accomplishments. She experimented with her different methods and worked to see how light of a touch she could have while still communicating her message to our horse. All of this was made more impressive by the program leader’s comment that she is normally quite shy and has great reluctance in engaging in activities. Yet, here she was, fully bold and committed to this endeavor. Being around animals is her niche, and here she shined. She was reluctant to leave Thokkadis’s side until she heard of our plan to meet all the other animals on the farm at the conclusion of EAL.
For our last April EAL session, the students of McDaniel College’s Alpha Phi Omega stopped by for the afternoon. This national co-ed service fraternity spends its time promoting volunteerism and leadership skills. Given this latter goal, they decided to join us for Equine Assisted Learning with our horses Vinur, Snuder, and Geysir. They had great fun experimenting with their approach to the horses, figuring out how to best motivate and direct them, and simply being on the farm.
Although we often close our sessions with a group discussion of what we’ve learned, we took an extra half hour after this talk to visit with all the other animals on the farm, including the goats, adult chickens, cows and our baby therapy chicks! With all of the animals feeling sufficiently loved, the McDanielites headed to the lodge for lunch on the porch.
Our EAL-filled April was a wonderful jump start to our spring season at ThorpeWood. Soon, we will have our Head Start kids back on the farm, too, to enjoy our farm’s fur and sunshine!