Friday, April 8, 2016

Old MacDonald Had a Farm...

I often talk about how lucky I feel getting to organize Expanded Learning Program workshops for students at Robinson Elementary. As Session V, our final session of the school year, has gotten underway I once again find myself lucky. This time I am lucky because I am learning right along with the students.

Kerry Kurt, owner and operator of Unbound Grace at Sentinel Farms in Starksboro has opened her barn doors to our students. I get to travel along as the chauffeur and chaperone. We showed up to the farm on Day 1 and the only way I can describe the excitement of the students is as if they had entered the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds for the first time. They had the attention spans of gnats. Kerry, who has upwards of 15 summer campers took everything in stride.

Our first task was learning how to groom a horse. Our test subject was Charlotte. She was very patient while the little hands learned which brushes to use and in which order to use the different brushes. Dylan, a 3rd grader, was psyched about brushing her tail and couldn't wait to braid it when he was finished!

On Day 2 the attention spans grew, by a few seconds. They were even excited to learn how to clean out a stall. Think shoveling poop. (I opted out of this learning experience). Kerry took us on a tour of the property where we were able to get up close and personal with 4 calves. We also saw all 15 of her horses, including her yearlings.

The students involved in this workshop are lucky to have Kerry as their leader. As we went on our walking tour Kerry shared many of her reasons for opening her farm to students. As we watched the four students run as fast as their legs would carry them towards the calves she said, "They need this. They need to run without structure." How true. In a world where we have allowed strict schedules to rule our lives and our children's lives it is refreshing to have an adult who understands the bigger picture.

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