New Partnerships in the Works!

With our programs calendar joining the bears in hibernation, January can be a lonely time at ThorpeWood. This January, we were all over the farm and across town, busy with meetings and getting excited about new partnerships! On the farm front, we met with Lyndsee Hewston, our local feed store’s Purina equine specialist and nutritionist. We wanted to be sure our animals were getting all the right vitamins and minerals to support their aging bodies. With her expert care, the animals were assessed and prescribed new foods. We are feeling confident that they are nutritionally cared for! Thanks, Lyndsee!

In the world of the program, we connected with a new human at a long-term partner of ours – Evan Bates from the YMCA! He is excited to be bringing his Strive High program to ThorpeWood this summer. Strive High is a ‘four-week social-emotional enriched summer camp [that] will enhance youth competencies in Empathy, Responsibility, Personal Development, Emotion Management, and Building Relationships. Students will develop coping strategies, obtain appropriate language to express and cope with complex emotions, and boost self-confidence to prepare for the following school year.’ This is such a great fit for a YMCA-ThorpeWood partnership!

Along the same lines, we connected with another new group leader from a long-time partner – Colby Heiston of Potomac Case Management Services. With Colby, we discussed bringing the Youth Diversion Program out to the farm. This program ‘provides case management services to youth to prevent negative involvement with the juvenile justice system. PCS collaborates with the Washington County Department of Juvenile Services, the youth, and their family to hold a restorative meeting to determine appropriate amends, establish a diversion contract, and connect the youth and family to necessary community resources. [They] practice a restorative justice approach that values repairing the harm done and rebuilding community relationships, while making sure the youth stays connected to essential community resources.

New on the community scene, the Sabillasville Environmental Charter School (SES) was another group we ThorpeWoodians met with this month. Their principal Dawn Getzandanner was enthused by the idea of field trips to ThorpeWood. We are, after all, so close by AND share a mission of integrating nature into learning and growth! We were delighted to visit the school on ‘Rope in Kindness’ day when all the students (and staff!) were clad in cowboy/girl attire. Some of the SES staff plan to come out to ThorpeWood to scope out future field trips soon! We can’t wait to see where this partnership takes us!

We are also in discussions with the lovely Mary Westlund and Alisa Fried of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education about becoming a MAEOE certified Green Center! We have gone over the application and are gathering the necessary materials and proof of our Green Center worthiness. Mary and Alisa were here at ThorpeWood back in December for the Green Careers Day and encouraged us to apply. We will provide updates as we complete this process in the beginning of next year.  

Patricia Coates, Dottie Rust, and Regina Clark of the Umbrella Project came to visit us at ThorpeWood to discuss leading their healing hikes at the farm. The Umbrella Project provides hiking experiences to grieving you adults. The hikes create a ‘caring, supportive community of those who understand and are sharing the same overwhelming experience of loss. Trained, experienced leaders will guide [participants] over all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather—which is exactly the point. By participating in a powerful outdoors experience, [participants] will learn the coping skills, self-awareness, and self-reliance that are an essential part of the healing process. The Umbrella Project will be using ThorpeWood as a basecamp for these healing hikes this coming June, August, and September.

As we come to the end of this busy month of meetings and new partnerships, we are enlivened and ready to charge forward into the spring. We simply can’t wait to see all of these groups at the farm in the coming months!