The Red Barn could not operate with just our staff alone. As hard as we work, it is physically impossible for our small staff to serve 100 kids a week all while caring for 16 horses, 4 goats, 3 bunnies, 2 cats, and a 31-acre property that needs constant upkeep and repair. Thankfully, the barn is blessed with help from an amazing group of volunteers! And every summer, a number of high school volunteers pursue an internship at the Red Barn. This year we had six such interns: Abi, Alyssa, Cianan, Emily, Olivia, and Taylor.
Our summer interns help with everything! From side-walking and horse-handling in group riding lessons, to assisting in unmounted camps, and helping complete the daily and weekly tasks necessary to the barn’s operation. Their help is invaluable, especially when factoring in the grueling summertime heat and humidity. It’s not easy mucking stalls when you are sweat-soaked and exhausted after an 8-hour day, but our interns never once complained.
They also fill important roles as peer helpers to our students. Teenage interns and volunteers help bridge the age gap between our instructors and students, enabling younger students to feel more comfortable and willing to engage. Every child and young teen needs someone close to their age that they can both relate to and look up to. I can’t think of better peer role models than our six summer interns.
We cannot thank our interns enough for their hard work and sincerely hope our symbiotic relationship provided them with plenty of valuable knowledge and experience. Working with the population we serve can provide insight for any young person interested in pursuing careers in education, counseling, occupational therapy, and many other fields. Furthermore, and possibly even more importantly, this kind of work serves to build empathy and compassion.
Our internship program also requires each intern complete a research-based project. The projects this year included:
• A promotional video for the Red Barn
• A 5-page research paper covering insurance and accessible riding
• A spinning wheel that offers students options in a fun, engaging way
• A PowerPoint connecting Christ to horseback riding
• A felt board to be used in unmounted lessons that works on a student’s fine motor skills
• A school curriculum designed to be accessible and engaging to students of all kinds
I speak for the entire staff when I say that we are impressed by our interns’ amazing creativity and hard work. All six of you played invaluable roles in making this Summer term successful. Thank you so much Abi, Alyssa, Cianan, Emily, Olivia, and Taylor for all your dedication!