With a mission of connecting children and families to nature through farm-based education, Connolly Ranch aims to encourage the next generation of environmental stewards.
At Connolly Ranch, kids and families learn about farm life, the role of animals, ecology, sustainability, and an appreciation for nature. We teach organic gardening, the sources and benefits of healthy foods and knowledge of how nature works to sustain us. Connolly Ranch supports a diverse community with more than 9,000 people visiting each year through field trips, family classes, events, early childhood programs, seasonal camps and open farm days.
Peggy Connolly’s generous donation allows Connolly Ranch to serve 70 percent of students in the Napa Valley Unified School District. In her will, Connolly donated the property to the Land Trust of Napa County in order to preserve the 13-acre farm from encroaching development. Since 1991, Connolly Ranch has served the Napa Valley as a unique educational center providing hands-on experiences for children of all ages.
To teach campers to connect with themselves:
- To give campers the opportunity to connect with themselves and foster a sense of self-awareness through nature, by engaging in “me time” activities during camp.
- To familiarize campers with the Connolly Ranch Educational Garden, where they will explore their senses of smell, taste and touch as they feel the different plant textures in their hands and smell and taste the various plants and vegetables they helped to plant.
- To help campers to connect with and discover themselves by encouraging them to try new things – whether it is food from the garden or climbing higher and higher on the fig tree.
- To deepen the connection between campers and the natural elements during free time in the Grove, as they feel the wind in their hair while running up and down the trail, or feel the warmth of the fire circle in the winter months.
- To foster self-connection in the Big Barn and Poultry Barn by allowing campers to spend one-on-one time with animals. They will learn to understand the animals’ body language and the difference in the texture of their fur. They will discover how the sheep feel before and after they are brushed, and learn a sense of patience as they attempt to hold a chicken.
- To encourage self-expression through creation during open-ended arts and crafts, and to send artwork home with campers as a way to share with their families their experiences at camp.
To teach campers to connect with others:
- To create opportunities for campers to connect with their peers in the Connolly Ranch Educational Garden through hands-on activities: campers will work together in preparing garden beds, planting seeds, watering plants and harvesting vegetables.
- To foster healthy relationships between campers by allowing them to spend undirected time in the Grove: here, campers work together to problem-solve while building forts, digging trenches and creating sand castles. They engage in teamwork by turning over tree stumps and logs, finding bugs and creating habitats out of sticks, leaves, mud and other natural items.
- To encourage campers to connect with one another through the process of learning to complete the tasks involved in taking care of our farm animals. Campers will work together to weigh out the correct amount of food, carry the food buckets out to the pasture, and fill the feeding troughs.
- To create a sense of community by starting each day of camp with a morning gathering of campers and staff: playing “getting to know you” games and singing songs fosters a sense of the group as a whole.
To build a positive connection between campers and their environment:
- To deepen the connection each camper feels with their environment, by leading activities which require the use of the 5 senses to complete interactive projects.
- To encourage respect and appreciation for dirt, compost, microorganisms, water, plants and food through projects in the Connolly Ranch Educational Garden – digging, planting, tasting, identifying, and watering plants.
- To expand each camper’s understanding of the life cycles of plants, animals and insects.
- To encourage respect and appreciation for the natural world through working with our farm animals and by learning their five basic needs: food, water, shelter, exercise and love.
- To teach each camper to participate in the animals’ feeding, brushing, stall-cleaning and watering.
- To encourage and/or improve on each camper’s comfort being in close proximity to the animals at the Ranch, whether they are playing in the same field as the goats or sitting in a barn stall reading books to the pigs.
- To give each camper an opportunity to experience the natural elements beyond the borders of the Ranch, on the neighboring hiking trails and open spaces we use in our programs.
- To give each camper an opportunity to use their imagination, climb, run, explore, dig, hide and discover the unknown while playing in the Grove, hiking the Connolly Ranch nature trail, visiting our Wappo Native American village or taking refuge under Grandmother Oak.