(NAMPA) Shovels, buckets, horses, and shots—all four things can be found at Blazing Hope Youth Ranch. The Nampa ranch is a place where children are taught the value of hard work through horses. For Broadview University’s Vet Tech program, the ranch has become a familiar site for teaching the value of hands-on learning.
Blazing Hope Youth Ranch is a nonprofit, faith-based organization owned and operated by Mike Howard. Howard and his 28 resident horses—many of which were donated by people who could no longer care for them—consider this place their home. The ranch is known in this community for its ability to touch hearts and keep kids on the right path. Mutual respect and responsibility are taught; the value of love and companionship are learned.
“Here, we teach kids to be givers and servers,” Howards said. “Kids who visit learn to clean up after the horses. They also learn the importance of grooming and riding them.”
For the past year and a half, Vet Tech students have been visiting Blazing Hope as part of their applied learning projects. Here, they have cleaned up countless piles of manure, raked stalls, participated in deworming horses, and assisted with giving vaccinations. Instructors say being a Vet Tech involves taking care of more than puppies and kittens—hands-on learning must take place on large animals like horses as well.
On this particular visit to the ranch, Howard gives visitors a quick lesson on the value of an equine ranch and its role in helping kids within the community. He talks about the numerous friendships which have developed over the years, and tells story after story about kids who say they never felt needed until they came to the ranch.
“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 here to feel unconditionally accepted, especially children.”
Since opening its doors in January 2011, more than 50 Vet Tech students from Broadview University have conducted their applied learning projects at Blazing Hope.