CALF is an educational foundation designed to connect people to agriculture through educational programs and community projects. CALF = Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation. In addition to having different learning experiences (such as the Farm and Ranch Day in May where you can learn about farm and ranch life, Harvest Day in September, and various volunteer opportunities, and Barnyard Tours), they also let kids that live in the city and do not have the space to have a farm raise their animals on CALF’s Lowell Ranch, which is located in Castle Rock.
There are 10 CALF kids that are currently raising their animals there. If you have animals at the ranch, you have to come down twice a day to take care of them. It takes about an hour to feed the animals. If you are not properly taking care of your animals, you will be kicked off of the ranch. They have 133 acres now and will be soon expanding to 168 acres. The types of animals that you can keep there include pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, chickens, turkeys, goats and more. In addition to providing housing for the animals, the ranch also has access to an on-site veterinarian.
I met Brooke Fox, the CEO. She has been with them since 2007 and CEO since 2010. She let us meet some of the 4-H kids. 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization – for kids aged 8-18. It includes science, health, and citizenship, in addition to agriculture. One of the 4-H/CALF kids that I met was Ethan, who is 15 years old and lives in Highlands Ranch. He is raising sheep at Lowell Ranch as well as building a chicken coop. The chicken coop will house 25 egg laying hens. He will use it as a business opportunity and hopes to sell the eggs.
I also met Lauren and Taylor Averill. Lauren has one pig – his name is Otis, and he weighs 160 pounds. She also has a pig named Milo. Taylor has a pig named Stacey. All three of the pigs are Yorkshire pigs and are only 3 months old. You have to put sunscreen on pigs because they can burn in as soon as 10 minutes!
April through October is their busiest season for field trips. Many Douglas County elementary schools visit during this time. They have other school districts that come too, but since they are located in Castle Rock, most of the field trip kids come from Douglas County.
Part of the CALF program is to help people become more independent, develop leadership skills, and learn how to lead projects and other people. It reminded me a bit of Boy Scouts. In Boy Scouts you can do an Eagle project, and you have to put a plan together, have it reviewed, and get it approved. This is similar for this program. Kids can outline a project, plan it, etc. and then submit it to be approved by a board of directors.
I really enjoyed Lowell Ranch and recommend visiting it on one of their educational tour or festival days. Check out www.thecalf.org for more details.