Farmhands Reflections and the Promise of a New Season

Today I saw the first green shoots of chives and yarrow emerging from the garden. Across the road from where I sit (in the Visitor Center of the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center), I see baby calves frolicking in the fields between nourishing themselves with their mothers milk. I can’t help but feel excited about the rejuvenation of life and endless Farmhands program possibilities for 2016!

Since planning efforts for summer 2016 programs have been in full swing lately it’s given me some delbert and kidstime to reflect and reminisce about last summer.   We kicked off our Farmhands summer camp 2015 fun with Farm Camp at Moonstone Farm and we capped off the season with Jr. Rancher Camp at the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center. In between, were 2 solid months of experiential fun and adventure on local farms and ranches throughout the Upper Arkansas Valley.  Our programs were chock full of participants last summer, sometimes requiring waiting lists.  Returning kids from previous summers and brand new campers joined our Farmhands family filling our days with rich and memorable experiences. All together we had 511 participants during our June and July Farmhands programs. We hope they all enjoyed their time on the farm and ranch last summer as much as we enjoyed having them and we look forward to seeing them again in 2016!

Last summer, Andrea Coen and myself were the primary instructors for our Farmhands programs 19896065221_fbb19b3048_oand we were so fortunate to be assisted by our first ever Farmhands Intern- Riley Ceglowski.  On summer break between her sophomore and junior years in college Riley jumped right in with a cheerful and enthusiastic spirit. We so enjoyed Riley’s positive outlook, able assistance, and fun energy throughout the summer.  Here are her own words about the work we do:

“Teaching children about how farms and ranches were run in the past

will assist them in understanding and

 appreciating things such as gardening, raising animals, and respecting the land”.

 We continue to refine how we structure our programs to build on the knowledge and skills our campers gain in previous years. We strive to provide a continuum of learning opportunities so that our youngest pre-schooler to our middle school participants can graduate to the next level of learning options within our agricultural community.  Please fill out this short survey to give feedback on programs you would like to see.  Click here to:  Take Our Short Survey Now!

Registration is now open on all of our summer 2016 programs.
Click HERE to learn more and to sign up today!

*Register by May 1 to receive early registration discounts.
Prices increase 10% after May 1.

Guest instructors are vital to our program.  Their varied skills are essential to our lively and dynamic programs.  Large animal vets, ferriers, fiber artists, historians, leather-workers, gardeners, and cowboys helped to provide context for traditional skills still being used on farms and ranches today. A huge thanks goes out to these volunteers who gave their time so selflessly. Lastly, not one of these programs could have taken place without the support of all our Farmhands participants and their families.

If you are interested in sharing your skills this summer or would like to volunteer at one of our camps please contact Karen Fortier:

RMFU’s “Cooperative Leadership Camp” offers fun and learning in the mountains this summer!

Looking for a great opportunity for the little ones (ages 7-18)? It’s all at Rocky Mountain Farmers Union‘s Cooperative Leadership Camps!

RMFU’s legendary (60 years running!) Cooperative Leadership Camps are traditional in the sense that they offer hiking, crafts, cooperative games, etc., but where they stand apart is that they send campers home with some type of newfound knowledge that they might not necessarily learn about in school or through other venues. Then at the end of camp campers go on a field trip to give hands-on experience incorporating the theme/topic!

This is a great opportunity for Farmhands Education Program kids who are ready to graduate to an overnight experience but still craving the kinds of hands-on agricultural fun of a Farmhands program!

But more importantly to the kids, is that they are allowed to be kids for a few days—with silly skits and crazy games! Please check out the camp registration packet that is attached HERE. You can also find info on our website at All camps take place at the National Farmers Union Education Center in Bailey, CO. There are bus options for campers, as well as carpooling. Please call or email Jennifer Luitjens Bahr, Director of Education at or tel:303-752-5800 if you have questions!

Register for camp by May 28th to avoid a $25 late fee! 

RMFU campers

Farmhands Programs Summer 2015

DSC_0646Do you want to learn about Animals on the Ranch? Or try your hand at Traditional Skills ranchers would have used “back in the day” such as roping, leatherworking, or fiber arts work? Maybe Farming is more of your thing?  Our summer 2015 Farmhands for youth ages 5-12 has something for everyone! This year’s line-up is a blend of some of our tried and true favorites with some new twists, combined with some new offerings.

New this year are some programs specifically designed for younger or older youth.


You will find that some of our offerings are for the full range of 5-12 year olds, while others are for either 5-8 year olds or for 9-12 year olds. Our programs will take place at the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center,  Moonstone Farm, The Morgan Center, at the Meadows Farm in Buena Vista, and at the Salida School Garden.  For more information or to register CLICK HERE!

Like the bluebirds returning in the spring, sightings of Guidestone staff in area schools increases this time of year.  Our elementary Farm to School classroom visits and field trips are upon us, and for our older students there is a wide variety of service learning opportunities!

Contact Karen Fortier, Director, Farmhands Education Programs at



Farmhands 2014 Summer Programs Lead Instructors

This summer Guidestone has three lead instructors for our Farmhands Youth Education programs held at the Salida School Gardens on Holman Ave., the Hutchinson Homestead Ranch & Learning Center in Salida, The Morgan Center for Earth Literacy in Poncha Springs, and The Meadows Farms in Buena Vista. Here they are! Say hi if you see them around town and ask them what their favorite part of Farmhands is. They’re pretty friendly, if you can’t tell.

Ann Colbert

Growing up in Colorado, Ann spent lots of time in the wilderness and in the garden developing a passion for the natural world, which inspired her to pursue a career in environmental studies. Ann has a BS in Natural Resources from Colorado State University and a MA in Teaching from Colorado College. Ann has worked as director and program instructor for a variety of land management agencies and non-profits in Colorado. Ann is currently Guidestone’s Education & Interpretation Specialist.


Karen Fortier

Karen combines two great loves in her life – teaching children and growing food – in her position as Education Specialist for Guidestone’s Farm to School Program. After spending 19 years in Alaska working as a Resource Education Park Ranger, she and her family moved to the Upper Arkansas Valley with the dream of growing more of their own food.



Suzanne Ward
Suzanne Ward is a Colorado native and a fourth generation farmer in the Arkansas River Valley. She and her husband Dave own and operate The Morgan Center in Poncha Springs, Colorado, where they do the Sacred Work of agriculture and Earth Literacy Education. Suzanne has a degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado, a teacher’s certificate from the University of Alaska and a Masters in Education from Regis University in Denver. She taught grades preschool to sixth in the public schools for 25 years. Suzanne spent a year on an organic farm in New Jersey in 2004, where she interned teaching Earth Literacy. She has certificates in Master Gardener, Master Food Safety and Food Preservation, and Permaculture. Suzanne and her husband, Dave, co-founded and serve on the board of the Central Colorado Foodshed Alliance. Earth Education and reviving local foods are her passions.

Farmhands and the Art of Growing Food


Guidestone’s Farmhands Youth Education programs have one overarching goal that guides every one of our programs: to teach kids the art of growing food. ‘Art,’ derived from the Latin ars, can refer to “a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.” The art of growing food incorporates many different elements – like learning a sport or a musical instrument – yet when combined creates a skill that is a comprehensive whole that can be honed over time through practice, dedication, and joy. The art of growing food can be developed everyday – whether we’re in the garden, at a restaurant, in the kitchen, or at the market.
Guidestone’s Farmhands Youth Education programs get kids started down the path towards the art of growing food by first introducing them to the sheer sensory joy of beingconnected to the earth and its systems that allow us to grow food. You just can’t stop kids from having a good time when it comes to this stuff, whether they’re welcoming chickens to their new coop at the Hutchinson Homestead Ranch and Learning Center by preparing roosts and nesting boxes, or helping plant, weed, and harvest vegetables from the Salida School Garden that will eventually be served in local school cafeterias.


We hope that our Farmhands participants always continue to revel in the wonderful intersection of nature and culture that is agriculture, and bring this interest forward with them in life. As adults, no matter what their professions and interests become, we hope their Farmhands experiences in the art of growing food will help them to be thoughtful consumers and instill a lifelong respect for food and the people that produce it.

If you have little ones, please join us this summer for an exciting lineup of programs in Salida at the Hutchinson Homestead Ranch and Learning Center, the Morgan Center for Earth Literacy in Poncha Springs, and the Salida School Gardens. From gardens, to pigs, chickens, sheep, and goats, and historic homesteaders, we’ve got it all!


Click HERE for more info on all our offerings this summer and to sign-up. And if you believe in what we do, consider helping Guidestone reach its “Spring for Guidestone!” campaign fundraising goal of $10,000 before July 9th by making a donation here so we can continue providing great programming like this for years to come. Thank you so much!


*written by Guidestone’s OSM/VISTA member Gunnar Paulsen