By Josie Gates, Youthlinks AmeriCorps Program Manager
During this past session of Rockland After School Alliance (RASA), five middle school students braved the winter cold and participated in the Farm Hands program at Aldermere Farm. The program was run by Sarah Post, the farm’s Program Manager, with assistance and supervision from Youthlinks’ AmeriCorps Member, Josie Gates.
For seven weeks the students visited the farm after school each Thursday to work with the Belted Galloway calves, under Post’s guidance and instruction. Students learned halter training, leading, and grooming, and practiced patience and teamwork. Post also taught the students about land conservation and how Aldermere Farm operates as protected farmland thanks to Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
Farm Hands is a great hands on learning opportunity and for most of the students it was their first experience working with large animals. While it’s a memorable experience for the students it also provides a service to the farm. Each week the calves became more comfortable with being haltered, led, and groomed and became better tempered around people as a result. Youthlinks and RASA look forward to collaborating with Aldermere Farm for the next session of after-school clubs. A new group of middle school students will participate in Aldermere Farm’s spring program, Sap to Syrup.
RASA is a program of Youthlinks offered in collaboration with RSU 13 supported by a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant from the Maine Department of Education. Youthlinks is a program of Broadreach Family & Community Services, a non-profit organization that has been serving the children and families of Waldo and Knox Counties since 1983. For more information concerning the Rockland After-School Alliance, please Youthlinks: 594-2221 or visit www.youthlinksonline.org/RASA.