The Equine Vo-Ag Program originated at Hartford’s Bulkeley High School in 2008. Initially serving students solely based on interest, for the past three years it has served as an outstanding example of a unified agricultural vocational program. Students with special needs and their mainstream peers participate in this twice weekly program, located in the bucolic setting of the Lazy D Ranch on the Harwinton/Terryville line.
Through this program, high school students have the unique opportunity to learn a variety of skills, including: landscaping, minor carpentry, barn care, and basic horse care. They also learn to work both independently and collaboratively on a variety of tasks. Through this unique program, students who may have difficulty in reaching their potential in a purely academic focused milieu, achieve success and gain confidence through vocational and hands-on learning. This confidence then transfers into the school and academic experience. Students are also able to connect with their peers in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise. By ameliorating isolation and encouraging peer interaction, this also aids in positive peer relationships, teambuilding and improved attendance. Students are supervised at all times by job coaches and school and program personnel.
Affectionately referred to as “Farm Day” by some of the students, the Bulkeley City Slickers Vo-Ag program boasts a waiting list at all times. This summer, some of our students will continue their participation via Hartford’s Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program.
Gretchen Levitz is the coordinator of the Bulkeley Equine Vo-Ag Program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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