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March 2024
First Nature Notes: The Pastures Are Always Greener
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Dear Friends of First Nature Foundation,

We’ve just had our first serious spring rain and the grounds and trees are greening up nicely. The horses are eagerly enjoying the fresh and tender growth of grass, and we have started refurbishing our herb, vegetable, and pollinator gardens at the ranch. Our beautiful and beloved barn has been receiving a long-needed and thorough power washing, which is being followed by a sanding and sealing treatment so that the wood retains its beautiful tones and mildew-free condition. Our new eagle weathervane is finally on the cupola, too!  Stay tuned for photos of a surprise location for the top finial of our old weathervane, which got bent after a hurricane knocked it and the cupola it was attached to down to the ground.  

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Please plan to join us for our Appreciation Day on May 19 from 1-3pm if you’re a First Nature Foundation donor, volunteer, staff member, or sponsor! We will have delicious light refreshments, some giveaway and raffle items, join up or obstacle course demonstrations, and a professional photographer to take your photo with the horse of your choice! It’s one way for us to offer our gratitude to those of you who have been supporting us. Also, if you have donated to us through Facebook, we are so thankful…AND please note that we do not receive any notification of who donates or when, so we’re apologizing if you have donated and haven’t heard from us!

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Our first Horse Wisdom for Heroes cohort of 2024 graduated last Saturday…it was bittersweet as they were such an amazing group of guys and we will miss them, but wish them continued recovery, growth, and happiness. Here’s what some of them had to say about the value of the program:

  • “When I was in my addiction…my value of life was really low. And the life of myself was also. This program has boosted my morale, my potential to get back in the game of life and not just play the game, but win the game.” – Norris, Air Force veteran

  • “The thing I’m taking away from here is…really slowing down and appreciating things. Reminding myself that I love nature and it used to be such a big part of my life. Thank ya’ll for being part of my path on the way to recovery. I’m grateful that this was one of my stops.” – John

  • “What I like about this program is my mental health, when I’m here I feel so much better when I leave here. For at least 2 days, I’m going to have peace and have a clearer head. And I just love this program so much and I love these horses and what they do for me.” – Wayne, Navy veteran

 

Our next cohort will start right away, so we can continue to grow the impact and reach of the program. We’re also looking for additional veteran groups to welcome at the ranch for the program.

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One of our local county commissioners, Cheryl Grieb, recently visited the ranch and is well connected with Help Now of Osceola County a nonprofit shelter organization for survivors of domestic violence, a cause dear to her heart. While we have welcomed the kids from Help Now’s Pathways to Hope program, we hope to start our Horses Healing Hearts program this spring for their women, offering solace, empowerment, and some joy, too.

We are still looking for sponsors for our PASOS program. PASOS stands for Parents and Spouses of Suicide. It’s a grief support group and it turned out to be our very first offering, which I started in January 2021 virtually due to COVID. We continue to host twice-monthly Zoom meetings ever since and have folks from all over the country attending: Oregon, Arkansas, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, and elsewhere. Some have been attending for years now. Please, If you are (or know of) someone whom suicide has touched, might you consider donating to help us?

Some new, amazing events are scheduled for the ranch. Our Discovery Day on March 29, spearheaded by our Community Engagement Director, Kristina, is fully booked! This is a day for local business folks to schedule private tours of the ranch and mini-demos. Earlier this month we hosted Victoria Dume and some of her colleagues with her IntegrateHer retreat program and our horses held space for the culmination of their day. They were so happy with the venue, the vibe, and the horse experience that we are in the process of scheduling additional retreats with her. We have other private events we are booking for the spring and summer, so if you’d like to rent our gorgeous space, please reach out soon to discuss the possibilities.  

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Last month we hinted that we were going to introduce you to our new staff members at the ranch. Please meet Jason Wright, Emily Cardona, and Paige Barlett! They are already treasured members of our team, each having attended at least one of our leadership programs.

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Meet Jason - Raised right here in Osceola County, on Deseret Ranch, Jason has been in the farm and ranch business for over 30 years. He lives in Saint Cloud with his wife Erica. Jason and Erica have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Jason spends his days off from the ranch working as a part time musician as well.

Meet Paige - Paige is a college student striving to achieve her bachelors degree in emergency management at UCF. In the future, she plans to become a firefighter/paramedic with the city of St. Cloud. She has had a love for horses since a very young age, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work at First Nature Foundation.

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Meet Emily – Emily grew up being surrounded by animals small and large, though her favorite has always been horses. Her family had horses as long as she could remember, and for a short time she owned one herself. When she went into foster care, to cope with this significant change in her life, part of her therapy was to work with horses in a program much like what goes on at First Nature. Emily has worked at various barns since then, with over 10 years of experience working with horses. The different programs with horses at First Nature Ranch continue to keep Emily feeling balanced and prepared for whatever life throws at her.

We’re pretty sure you know by now that it’s your financial and moral support that keeps us (me, especially!) going. We depend, in part on you, our fan base, to hook us up with potential sponsors, connect us with interested businesses who want to book a date for our Horseplay for Leaders playshops for their leadership teams, and nudge your friends to donate, maybe through a Facebook birthday fundraiser. Is there a friend or colleague you think would be interested in what we do at First Nature Foundation? If so, please do take a moment and forward this to them so we can expand our reach and our impact. And please see below to learn about other ways you can help us. 

How Can You Help?

Everyone has a talent or resource that is valuable. It could be time, money, contacts, or a love of horses. Every little bit helps, and your support can make a big difference in our mission. Here are some easy ways to help:

 

  • Volunteer: Your time and skills to help with our horses, facility, or programs. Or are you interested in serving as a board member for our nonprofit? We are still looking!

  • Donations: You can make a one-time donation, set up a recurring donation, or donate in-kind gifts, such as treats or equipment that can assist us with our programs and serving our clients. You can donate here! 

  • Advocate: Spread the word about First Nature and share our mission to equip our community with leadership skills for the 21st century. 

  • Fundraising: Have you helped a nonprofit with fundraising? If so, we’d love to speak with you!  

  • Sponsor a veteran or a teen: It takes $500 to sponsor just one veteran for their 6-week Horse Wisdom for Heroes program, or $300 for one session for the Horse Sense for Teens program. Consider donating and sponsoring a veteran or teen.

 

Simply reply to this email to get started with one of these items today!

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Wishing you warm and sunny days,

Kerul and Crew

 

 

 

First Nature Ranch / First Nature Foundation  

“Where the past, present, and future of leadership come together for the dignity and benefit of all.” 

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