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When people ask us what we raise at ARK Farms, my answer is, “A generation”. When a group of teenagers from all walks of life get together, even if they wouldn’t have anything in common otherwise, at the farm their mission is simple: Make life better for the 140 or so rescue animals that live there. We don’t tell the kids what needs to be done, we ask them. Every youth empowerment intern or farm volunteer will gladly tell you that the place we call ARK Farms is THEIR farm. To take the best care of it they may learn the science behind animal wellness, how to drive a tractor, or welding skills because it is part of repairing a sheep enclosure. Is it crazy to turn teenagers loose with axes, power tools, and heavy machinery? Are we nuts to trust the farm to kids, to let them learn from their mistakes, to ask teenagers to give up their spare time to do real farm work? Check out what one of our Youth Empowerment kids has to say about it:
“Thank you for contributing to our farm, the place where I’ve learned some of the most important things of my life. It was here where I learned both skills for my future and virtues for the present. Typical school education just provides raw information that is expected to be repeated at some later date, or it teaches (excruciatingly slowly), mindsets that help you comprehend concepts only in a certain class, like in algebra. This, however, it terrible! I feel that learning through experimentation and error is far more effective, first because you remember things better when you figure them out, plus you learn tenacity and teamwork like this, too! Well the farm provides exactly these opportunities to make mistakes. No instruction book, no guidelines, just problems that require common sense, logic, and creativity to solve them. Also, the endeavors are a good bit more enjoyable than school assignments, but don’t tell anyone I said that.”
With Gratitude, Devin
What I know about this guy is that he is a super student, an over-achiever, and his favorite thing about the farm is that he gets to learn through failure. He depends on others for feedback, works in teams, asks for help. This generation needs space to figure stuff out without fear that it might cost them. They need to be trusted, to work together, to find purpose in what they are doing – and to have fun. If you agree with Devin that “their” farm is important to the success of the kids in this generation, then please give. What the kids run with sweat equity we must pay for with real money. Please help. You can send a check to ARK Farms at the address below, or go online at cometothefarm.org/donate and become a monthly sponsor so we can have a reliable budget for these kids to work from. Want to raise this generation with us? We invite you to share in this work. Thank you for considering the part you can play in developing the kids who will one day be leaders in our communities. I’m glad that Devin will be one of them!
Many of those who completed a youth internship last summer have been enjoying working as paid staff at events this fall at the farm. One thing our intern staff has requested, though, is a way to "level up", to specialize in some area that they found their greatest interest and strength in. This year we are opening our first apprenticeships - a maximum of four apprentices to one expert trainer.
We are working with our Youth Advisory Core to determine what areas most people are interested in. So far we know that there is a lot of interest in horsemanship, engineering, hard skills training, and land management. We are exploring more options as well such as beekeeping, chicken hatching and care, and animal husbandry.
Please reply with any ideas you might have for apprenticeships at the farm. We will have course offerings posted in February. Watch this space!
Thank you to all who came out and shared the day with us at ARK Farms during Family Farm Day. Over 500 people came to the farm for the first time, and we were so glad you came. Thanks a Million to all the volunteers who made it work so easily, and especially the group who travelled 7 hours from Centralia, Missouri, to serve the mission of ARK Farms - restoring people affected by adversity. Thank you, we can't thank you enough!