BONSALL – According to its mission statement, the community is at the heart of the Bonsall Unified School District and BUSD is committed to be the heart of the community. Evidence of the district's commitment to community partners is the district's unique Animal Science Internship program with Bonsall's own Rawhide Ranch.
As part of the Bonsall Forward Initiative which supports STEM education, Rawhide Ranch has worked with the district to provide 100 students with an internship in animal science.
Many local residents might know Rawhide Ranch's summer camps and Country Christmas jamboree as a unique and magical place that transports visitors to a time gone by in the Wild West.
Internship recipients, however, take part in the behind the scenes duties of a working ranch. Students from fourth-eighth grades are given the opportunity to learn hands-on ranching skills, horsemanship, and how to properly "show" livestock in competitions.
Extended Learning Administrator and District Safety Coordinator, John Norton said, "Agriculture and horses are such vital parts of Bonsall's community and economy, the district wanted to reflect that in our educational opportunities."
Norton went on to describe the Animal Science Internship at Rawhide Ranch as similar to a prerequisite for FFA. "As the students progress through the internship, they not only learn practical, hand-on skills, but also to see the growth in their confidence is truly a remarkable thing to witness."
To be considered for an internship, students must complete an application which includes two open ended questions about why they are interested in taking part in the program. The interns are released from school to attend 10 Friday afternoon sessions at the ranch for a total of 30 hours of learning.
Weekly updates are communicated to parents, reporting on what the students have learned and to provide information about weather conditions. The internship is provided for free. The only requirement is that parents provide transportation to and from the ranch.
Superintendent Clevenger commented, "We feel extremely fortunate to have forged a strong relationship with such a special place right in our backyard. We hope to continue this program and expand on our agriculture and trade pathways in the future."
To date, Bonsall Unified has had four cohorts of students go through the Animal Science Internship program.
The most recent group of students presented what they have learned in a showcase for parents on Nov. 11. Students displayed reigning skills and demonstrated the proper way to show animals including goats and chickens.
Submitted by Bonsall Unified School District.