(NAMPA) Rakes, shovels, buckets, and shots—welcome to Blazing Hope Youth Ranch. The ranch in nearby Nampa has become a familiar site for students who go through the school’s Intro to Veterinary Technology class. Here, they learn all about the “down and dirty” part of animal care and come to appreciate the true meaning of labor of love.
Blazing Hope Youth Ranch is a nonprofit, faith-based organization. Ranch owner Mike Howard and his 28 resident horses—many of which were donated by people who could no longer care for them—call it home. But in this community, it’s a lot more than that. The ranch is known for its ability to touch hearts and keep kids on the right path.
“I liken the ranch to a youth group—a place where kids can come after school and feel loved,” Howard says. “The goal here is to mend broken hearts and horses. We want everyone who comes to the here to feel unconditionally accepted, especially children.”
Everyone includes Broadview University. For the past year, the school’s vet tech program has used the site as a classroom extension for hands-on learning and for its service-learning projects. During the winter quarter, instructor Casey Blizzard took six students to the ranch to clean the horses’ pens and learn about animal husbandry. This past spring, instructor Heather Williams also took six students to mow, weed, vaccinate, and help deworm horses.
Vet Tech Program Chair Holly Morss has also taken students to the ranch. She says “the experience they have here teaches them the importance of the human-animal bond. It also exposes them to more animals than just cats and dogs.”
Over the past year and a half, some 40 vet tech students have visited the ranch to pull countless weeds, help with vaccinations, administer deworming medicine, scoop manure, rake stalls, and ride.
“I truly appreciate what Broadview University does for us,” Howard said. “The students who come out here are great helpers. I think it’s a great partnership all the way around.”