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Weather the Storm

There is a LARGE sized willow tree in the yard of Dusty Dog Farm. It is clear, due to its circumference and size, that it has withstood many storms. In the 14 years that I have had the privilege of living on this farm, I have witnessed it getting seriously beaten up by noreasters and wild summer thunder storms. Branches have fallen, large chunks of the tree have ended up on the ground, but the integrity of the tree has been steadfast. And it continues to stand... with might, character and (sometimes ragged) beauty, for all to see as they enter the farm.

The resilience of this tree is spectacular to witness. It clearly demonstrates to me adaptability, hardiness and strength. Cooper's Crossroad Farming For Resilience (r) program was created to help build the kind of resilience that the willow tree represents. Quoted directly from our recently printed brochure on the program: Farming For Resilience was created as an opportunity for individuals to build resiliency. The FFR extended learning opportunity program offers a multifaceted educational platform to students from public schools, private schools, home schools and individuals. The benefits of this combined outdoor and classroom experience promote physical, social, and emotional wellbeing which build competencies that guide individuals to lead productive lives well into their adult lives. Students participate in equine facilitated activities including both ground work and riding. Research trials are demonstrating the therapeutic value of equine facilitated learning on social development (1). Students also participate in activities from the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Curriculum (2), pioneered by Scarlet Lewis (mother of Sandy Hook victim) which incorporates the study of four important character values : courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action. Artistic expression is explored to support these core values through painting, drawing, and creating murals together. Older students are encouraged to journal about their Farming For Resilience activities. The farm offers students the opportunity to learn fundamental basic principles of agriculture through hay production, gardening and animal welfare. The willow may be just a tree, but in its resilience, it offers wisdom to each of us. Wisdom to build on core values such as courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. WIth the strength built in this way, we too can withstand noreasters and wild summer thunder storms. Enjoy the waves of summer as they come. All the best, Christina References: 1) Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin 2013, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-19. Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effect of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence. Patricia Pendry and Stephanie Roeter, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. 2)

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