Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation still helping Colorado kids
To contact CALF and see what they are about, please use the following information:
Website with Social Media Links: http://www.thecalf.org
Mailing Address: CALF - P. O. Box 581, Castle Rock, CO 80104
Telephone: (303) 688-1026
Agriculture doesn’t stay at home.
The Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF), which operates out of the historic Lowell Ranch in Castle Rock, Colo., does their part to keep the future of agriculture alive by connecting young people with livestock they can raise on the ranch, as well as educating all age groups regarding agricultural science and region specific methods of growing plants and crops. Be it weather or coronaviruses, the animals on site still need care and all the plants still need to be tended.
Despite this period of shutdowns and phased in re-openings, the CALF facilities continue to host livestock projects for young people who wouldn’t be able to raise those animals at their own homes, and those same young people show up every day to care for and exercise their animals.
“We haven’t been doing school, so we have had more time to spend here,” said 17-year-old Ethan Summervill of Castle Rock about using more free hours in a productive fashion. “I have had more time to spend with my animals and I have been all the better because of it. CALF has been great (with) all the educational opportunities, to expand my connections in the ag industry, and be able to have hands on experience to raise these livestock.”
Summervill is not alone. During a normal year, about 3,000 kids spend time at the ranch through field trips, events and livestock projects at the barns housing sheep, pigs, goats and other animals. Program participants provide their own animals and care for them, while CALF supplies the facilities at no cost. Though this is not a normal year, CALF’s mission hasn’t changed.
“This is my second year at CALF,” said 15-year-old Kenzie Sijelmassi of Castle Rock, who is raising Boer goats for market. She used to raise rabbits at home, but wanted to work with bigger livestock. Blocked by residential regulations and a small backyard, CALF’s program was just what Sijelmassi needed. “I want to get a steer,” said Sijelmassi about her livestock goals. “But instead of going straight from rabbits to a steer, I decided to work my way up and started with goats.”
Younger students like Louisa Seela also participate at CALF, and the 8-year-old Castle Rock resident knows her Boer goats need care in the morning whether school is cancelled or not.
“I like it a lot and I am so blessed to have this,” Seela said about raising Cookie Dough and Princess on the CALF grounds. “I get here about 7 a.m. every day. Normally, I would get ready for school, get down here and feed them and then go to school. Then come back about 5 p.m. to feed, water and exercise them. But it is really fun.”
“It has been really nice because we can keep them here for free,” 14-year-old Kenzie Summervill said about her sheep and pigs at CALF. “We have to pay for feed and supplies, but the space is provided, along with water. We can also use paneling for our pens and there are wheelbarrows and pitchforks we can use. We just have to do community service, which isn’t that hard.”
I love CALF,” said 15-year-old Tori Checkal of Castle Rock, who raises market pigs as her project. Checkal is a longtime regular who has participated in CALF in one way or another for the last 10 years. “I love everything about it. It is really nice.”
“Absolutely, I recommend CALF,” said 16-year-old Bryce Lutz of the Sedalia/Castle Rock area. With CALF’s help, Lutz has produced two grand champion turkeys and a reserve champion turkey at the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo. “Everyone out here is so nice, (new people) can ask for help and we will help them. They don’t have to be worried at all. We are all working together as part of the team.”
“I would totally recommend this,” said 10-year-old Samantha Seela of Castle Rock, who raises market pigs on the property. “I have made a lot of friends here at CALF. If anyone came here, they would always be helped, even if it is the smallest things.”
Michelle Seela, a Castle Rock native and mother of both Samantha and Louisa, is thrilled with everything CALF provides.
“To have my children and the rest of these CALF kids be able to experience this and be a part of agriculture is a blessing,” said Seela. “Without this, we would just be doing chickens and that would be it. I can’t explain how grateful we are.”
“What it teaches these kids is phenomenal,” said Jennifer Summervill, mother of Ethan and Kenzie. “They have such a sense of responsibility. They get up on their own every day and go feed. They are learning record keeping and finances; what it takes to keep them alive, keep them growing, slow them down, feed.”
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids,” said Paulette Checkal, mother of Tori. “If it hadn’t been for CALF, she wouldn’t be where she is now. It is leading towards being in the agricultural field. Without this, she would not have had that avenue even open to her. It is allowing her to follow a dream.”
“I see agriculture in my future,” chimed in Tori. “Without CALF, I would probably not be here. I don’t know yet what I want to get into, because there is so much to choose from, but yes, (CALF) helps try to figure that out.
Although the animal projects continue unabated through the coronavirus shutdowns, multiple CALF fundraising events and normal income generating activities have already been cancelled, with no end yet in sight for resuming. Although tough to admit, the stay-at-home orders have been a stressor on the program.
“We could use people’s help,” acknowledged CALF CEO Brooke Fox. “We are committed to keeping our small staff and we are committed to continuing to reach out and help our community. We donated meat from the hogs we recently processed and we will be donating produce. We also helped FFA when they were in need after the schools closed. We are committed to doing what we can to help our community. We know everyone has a lot of choices of where to help, so maybe some people will think about us.” ❖
— Rogers is a freelance writer and photographer located east of Parker, Colo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him on Facebook at Official Lincoln Rogers Writing & Photography Page.
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB 21-87, known as the Farm Workers Bill of Rights, though much of the content will be decided through the rulemaking process.