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Connolly Ranch Education Center has just launched its most recent program, teaching environmentally-minded children about the benefits of rotational grazing on a farm. Connolly Ranch will replant a portion of its land to grow feed for the animals on the farm. This will not only teach the next generation but also improve the soil and reduce dry goods costs.

Connolly Ranch hosted its first field trip in 1993. Since then, it has been connecting local children to nature through programs that focus on gardening, animal care, and conserving resources. Staff are excited about this new addition to their farm.

Heidi Soldinger, co-executive director, stated that we really strive to ensure that our sustainable practices are implemented at the farm. Jessica is creating a curriculum for the children to become environmental stewards. The kids are learning through hands-on experiences and investing.

The children were able help Jessica Eutsler, Connolly Ranch Farm Coordinator, and others seed the newly-tilled plot.

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Eutsler adapts to the curiosity of her students by offering programs that target different age groups, such as the pre-K Explorers program or hosting high school FFA interns.

She said that we did the younger age, which was pre-kindergarten. They were very excited. It’s a little more complicated, but they still understand what’s happening.

We can then talk about something as simple as “What is a Seed?” How does it grow? Eutsler explained that the older kids will be able to discuss the different types and reasons for choosing each type of seed. We also discuss how we have goats sheep and pigs who will be grazing together. Finally, we have a miniature horse as well as two donkeys.

The plot will be divided into distinct sections so that children can see where the animals are grazing and where they rest. The animals also have their own grazing styles, which makes it easy to observe the animals at mealtime.

Students will also learn about environmental benefits by feeding the animals this way. Because of the rotational nature, each plot can grow back before being eaten again.

Soldinger said that there are many benefits to the land, including making healthy soil and for our economic sustainability. This makes a lot more sense when we think about it and make an investment. [than buying feed]We can also teach the kids the entire process.

Connolly Ranch’s facilities coordinator Kevin Giselbach said it was fascinating to see the children process each stage. He estimates that 99 percent of their students don’t have large acreages at their homes.

They saw me tear up the field, now they are seeding it and will be there to witness the entire process, he said.

Eutsler said that while it will be a bit of a test to see how the first round will perform in the patches, she estimated that her combination of wheat grass and rye seed will beat out other weeds within a year.

Learn more about Connolly Ranch’s farming education programs.

Sterling was closed to the general public since the Glass Fire. Staff saw this as an opportunity for them to give back to first responders who kept our community safe.

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