Breaking Barriers with Broad View Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies

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Show Notes

Broad View Equine

Summary

On this episode of the Farm Credit AgVocates podcast, Katie Ward chats with Katie Joseph and Kelly Boyer of Broad View Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) about how their programs help challenged students learn and overcome. Hear all about how the organization got started, how it’s impacting lives, and why this is the perfect combination of career and passion for both Katie and Kelly. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the owners of Broad View EAAT also share their experiences with supporting the cause through their programs. 

 

Links

Transcript

Katie Ward:

Welcome to the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast, I’m your host Katie Ward, ­­­­Public Relations and Communications Specialist for MidAtlantic Farm Credit. May is Mental Health Awareness month. Farm Credit has been supporting mental health efforts through many platforms, like our Member Assistance Program, the Rural Resilience training, and featuring stories of farmers around the country who have persevered through mental health struggles. 

Many of our members also support mental health efforts through various agricultural programs and activities. One member in particular runs an equine assisted learning program where she works with students.

I’m delighted to bring on Katie Joseph and her counterpart, Kelly Boyer, to the podcast today to talk about their work with Broad View Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. Broad View is a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, known as PATH, Member Center that was founded in 2018 to serve a population and need that is often underserved - challenging kids who have experienced trauma.

Katie Joseph is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and a PATH International Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She has worked with children ages 4 to 21 as a school psychologist, both in the public school setting and alternative settings for youth with more significant challenges. Katie was instrumental in creating the curriculum and coordinating programming with Broad View's work with her students at Stevenson House Detention Center.

Kelly Boyer began volunteering for Southern Delaware Therapeutic Horseback Riding in 2002 and became a PATH certified instructor in 2004. She has been involved with Broad View since its inception, serving as the PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor for the program. She has been active in horse care lessons and showing for over 30 years. Kelly presently owns an equine facility, where she provides lessons to able-bodied riders.

Without further ado, I am excited to welcome both Katie Joseph and Kelly Boyer to our podcast today! Thanks for joining me ladies.

Katie Joseph:

Thanks for having us.

Kelly Boyer:

Hi, thank you for having us on the show.

How Katie & Kelly Found their Passions

Katie Ward:

We can dive right in today and start our conversation out by hearing a little bit about how both of you got into your fields and what your backgrounds in agriculture are. Katie you and your husband both grew up on farms.

Would you be able to share a bit with our listeners about that?

Katie Joseph:

Sure, it's kind of a funny story with our connected histories. I grew up in Milton, but my mom came from a farming family. My grandfather had a dairy farm, that's now the Rookery Golf Course.

When they had the cows they sold their milk to my husband's grandfather who founded Joseph’s Dairy, so we've kind of been tied from the start. We now live on my husband's family farm and continued the tradition.

Katie Ward:

That's great.

And what about you Kelly?

Kelly Boyer:

I did not grow up on a farm, but I always had a love for animals. I grew up in Maryland in the Baltimore County area. I ended up at University of Delaware and was an Animal Science major and Business minor.

That led me to stay in Delaware and then I eventually made my way south into Sussex County. I’ve been down here since 2002 working with the therapeutic riding program, and through PATH is actually how I met Katie.

Katie Ward:

That's wonderful.

Did both of you always grow up enjoying horses and horseback riding, or is that something that you came to enjoy once you moved to Delaware?

Kelly Boyer:

For me, I always had a love for horses. I grew up with dogs in the family, so dogs and horses. My favorite aunt was a rider and she had horses. I remember being a toddler and getting horseback rides from her. I begged long enough and eventually my mom gave in and started providing lessons for me. I've been doing that since I was about 10.  When I was 13, I leased a horse and then at 15, I bought my own horse on my own. I've had a horse ever since.

Katie Joseph:

I have kind of a similar story. We grew up in Milton, so obviously we didn't have horses there. I had an aunt who was active in the horse industry and had a big farm down in Berlin. Around age nine, I got bit hard with the horse bug and spent a lot of time with her and started riding. Eventually we ended up getting horses that we kept at my grandparents' place and I started showing. It just kind of carried on from there and I've had horses ever since.

Katie Ward:

That's awesome. I love hearing that both of you have been involved with horses pretty much your whole lives, and that really shows that you're able to have your passion come through in your career choices as well, so that’s great. 

What about current agriculture, aside from horses, do either of you have any other on-farm involvements?

Ag Involvement

Katie Joseph:

My husband's family has a large farm. They started with the cows and dairy, but they also grow vegetables and grains and that's something that they continue to do. My husband's father and brother have carried on with that. I think in 2016, the farm got Century Farm Status.

Katie Ward:

Wow, being a Century Farm is quite an honor, congratulations on that.

Katie Joseph:

Thank you!

Katie Ward:

Kelly, I believe you also have horses on a farm.

Is that where you live or is that a business that you run separately?

Kelly Boyer:

It is where I live. My husband and I bought the property back in 2006 and other than an old home, there was nothing else on it. Over the years we built on it, created pastures and put a barn up. We have three horses, two pigs, about 20 chickens and a dog. We have a little farmette that keeps us busy.

Choosing a Career Path

Katie Ward:

That's great, that sounds like fun.  Before we talk more in depth on Broad View and what both of you do with the organization, I want to know a little bit more about why you chose this career path for the assisted learning through equine therapy.

Katie, would you start us off maybe a little bit about your role working in the school system as a Psychologist?

Katie Joseph:

Sure thing. I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to be a Psychologist and initially my goal was to be a Clinical Psychologist. Probably what most people envision when they hear the term Psychology or Psychologists is someone who is in an office and you're on the couch or in the chair talking out all of your issues. That's really what I thought I was going to do.

After undergrad, I ended up in a school system and just fell in love with it. I did some research to figure out how I could pursue both of those passions and found School Psychology. I was in a public school setting for eight or nine years working in Title One, which is lower income school systems and loved my work there and I loved the kids that I got to work with.

The workload just became unmanageable, between managing our kids, farm life and everything else. An opportunity opened up for this job with the children's department here in Delaware. I'm primarily in the detention center at this point, but I also had other residential settings for mental health treatment or day treatment settings where I serve the School Psychologist role. I realized that the detention center students in particular, we never know how long a student's going to be with us, so they don't always get a lot of services while they're there. I was trying to wrap my head around how we can help these students in a better way.

Up until that point, when you have horses and people know you have horses, they are always asking for rides or lessons. My answer was always no because I didn’t want my favorite thing to become my job. The longer I was there, I realized that the kids that I worked with needed something different. They needed something more engaging and more motivating if we were going to make progress and be able to reach them.

For me, the joke at work is horses fix everything. My solution is always to bring the horses and they will make it better. I did some research trying to figure out how we could do this. I found PATH and a model that really aligned with what I was envisioning and looking to do as far as what would work for our students. I then met Kelly and that’s how everything rolled out.

Katie Ward:

The rest is history right?

Katie Joseph:

Yes, exactly.

Katie Ward:

I love when you said that in the beginning, you didn't really want to mix your hobby and your personal work with your career. I think that's how a lot of people start out thinking that they enjoy something, but they don't want to mix it with a job. Then came to find out, that is what makes every day more exciting when your job deals with the things that you really care about and are passionate about.

Katie Joseph:

Absolutely, it's been the most enjoyable and rewarding thing I've had the opportunity to do thus far.

Katie Ward:

That’s really wonderful. In the beginning you said that you really fell in love with working with younger kids and students when you started at the school.

What is it about working with those younger kids as opposed to what you had originally planned for doing the typical couch therapy with adults?

Katie Joseph:

Well, I've always envisioned working with kids in some capacity, but the school setting is just a special place. I just enjoyed the environment and the excitement. I just knew that teaching wasn't necessarily the path that I wanted to take. I really wanted to help in a different way.

When I discovered this, I was a teacher's aide in a non-public school for kids with emotional disabilities.  I have stayed working with kids with pretty severe behavioral challenges ever since. I really liked the environment. I liked the type of kids that I was working with, but I knew that I wanted to do something different than just be at a teacher's aide or even a teacher. We had a great school psychologist there and I asked him questions, found programs and found a way to make it work.

Katie Ward:

That is awesome. Thank you.

Kelly, what about you? What brings you to this career choice, working with students and using equine therapy and assisted learning?

Kelly Boyer:

For me, it was a little bit different. When I was going into college, I really didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I loved animals. I knew how much they meant to me throughout my childhood and how much they helped me.

As I went through college, after trying various different things, I ended up with a job at a nonprofit organization that trained service dogs for individuals with disabilities. I think it's connecting animals and people and the healing power that animals can have for us is where I started to see my desires to be in this field.

When I ended up down in Sussex County, I found the therapeutic riding program and I just loved it instantly. I fell in love with it because there was a lot of instant feedback that you get from the individuals that are around the horses. Animals are forgiving and provide unconditional love.

They're non-judgmental and they provide an amazing opportunity for us to work on ourselves and to heal from any past experiences too. I think that's what has kept me in the field since 2002. I've continued to grow and learn more about it. When I met Katie, we just clicked so well together that we just felt like it was meant to be. We have such a clear vision for Broad View.

Katie Ward:

I think it's very interesting that you mentioned the connection between animals and humans and how they can heal without us even really recognizing. I recently just rode my first horse last year at the age of 29. It was a really great team bonding exercise that we did at Farm Credit.

It got me out of my comfort zone and I quickly felt the connection with the horse. I think that it could tell that I was a little nervous, so he was gentler with me and I calmed down. I can definitely see how that would help anyone who has suffered through trauma or has any kind of challenges in life.

Kelly Boyer:

You experienced exactly what the program does because that's what this program does for these individuals that we work with. Just imagine for someone that's coming from a past that they’ve experienced trauma.

Katie Joseph:

At the detention center in particular, most of these kids are city kids and have never seen a horse up close, so even just the size of the animal is intimidating for them.

Kelly Boyer:

I like what you said about stepping outside your comfort zone because that is exactly what we encourage. That’s where you can overcome fears and really gain a lot of self-confidence in yourself and realizing that you can do this. There’s so many amazing aspects to it, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally with working with the horses. We're very grateful that Stevenson House was open to this program. I think they're happy about it too.

Katie Joseph:

We just started back up for the spring session. We don't have the ability to operate in the winter. There's just not any protective space from the elements, so we do spring, summer and fall there. We just started back up with our first spring session. It’s surprising the amount of staff who ask when the horses are coming back. It changes the feel for the building.

Kelly Boyer:

The whole building changes, not just the residents. The whole vibe changes and improves. Especially going through the hard times of this past year, it's definitely been needed.

How the Organization Started

Katie Ward:

I can imagine that.

How did the organization start and can you give a little background on that and then go into the roles that each of you specifically play?

Katie Joseph:

Sure, I kind of hinted at it earlier that I knew that the students at my work needed something a little bit different, so I got my certification through PATH and got hooked up with Kelly. From there, it just kind of grew. We knew that there was this population of kids that needed and would benefit from this type of intervention.

Also looking at the community, it's not just the kids at Stevenson, its kids outside that. We have the students at Stevenson who are obviously mostly teenagers, but we do have some kids in the community that are much younger, early elementary age.

We're trying to hit as many areas as we can. We love the work that we get to do with the students at Stevenson, but we also recognize that a preventative focus is going to be even better. If we can prevent them from ever getting there, it will likely have a better impact long-term.

Katie Ward:

That was in 2018 when you started?

Katie Joseph:

Yes, in 2018.

Katie Ward:

Katie, what do you do specifically?  Do you and Kelly have similar roles or do you do different things and work with different programs?

Katie Joseph:

The PATH model for equine assisted learning requires several roles to be filled. There has to be a Therapeutic Riding Instructor that oversees the whole program because the certification process for that is much more intensive and focuses on a lot of different aspects. Kelly fills that role and she can fill you in on that.

For equine assisted learning, there has to be an educator, which would be me as the School Psychologist to address the learning piece. Then there has to be an Equine Specialist in mental health and learning as well, who focuses on the student, horse and the whole picture.

Between everyone, including the students and horses, a fluid team forms. What's great about Kelly and I is that we feel like we are a great team. We were able to maximize the strengths that we bring to the table and really support each other to further develop the areas that we're not as strong at, so that we can be really effective with the kids.

Kelly Boyer:

I think the other key part that Katie has brought is her experience with the zones of regulation, which I'll let her explain that. She's been instrumental in including that in this program. We've both seen such huge success from combining the zones with the horse work too because they collaborate together very well.

Katie Joseph:

The zones of regulation is a curriculum that I used when I worked in public school. It a framework curriculum that looks at self-regulation. Teaching it looks at a variety of strategies to make that happen. It just ties so nicely with the horse aspect of things. I had been doing it for years already, and as we were looking at doing something with the horses, I knew that I had the perfect program.

It’s easily adapted and we are able to plug in the pieces to make it flow really nicely. I had already done some classroom instruction with the students with this program, but the benefit is you learn the skills in the classroom setting. When we do this program at the detention center, it’s eight, 90 minute weekly sessions.

When we come in for the weekly session, we spend the first 30 minutes or so in the classroom going over the zones of regulation piece, horse safety and basics of understanding the horses and their body language. Then we go out into the yard and practice all those strategies.

As we said, a lot of these kids don't have any kind of experience with horses. Stepping out into that yard and seeing a 1200 pound animal up close and personal immediately puts them on alert or into the yellow zone. It’s a fantastic way to practice that when you are in the yellow zone and you’re going to work with this horse, you have to be calm.

You have to be a good leader and a good partner for this horse, so what are the strategies that you've learned to get yourself where you need to be so that we can get this done today. It's all ground work. We're not allowed to teach them riding, but we do some pretty amazing things.

We take kids in eight weeks that have never seen a horse to the last session, which is a horse show. It's the main class that they participate in. It’s an obstacle course where they have to lead their horse through all these different challenging obstacles. Pretty much every kid we've had has successfully completed the obstacle course.

They're super competitive, so they love it. They love to compete against each other. We have real horse show ribbons that they compete for. It's just the perfect way to immediately get practice and feedback on the ability to successfully calm down and be where you need to be to achieve the obstacle course with the horse.

What we've seen from the program is that the generalized ability goes right back into the classroom. The teachers see a huge difference. The staff on the unit see a big difference in behavior because they're able to practice it in a way that's meaningful and motivating for them.

Katie Ward:

Yeah, I'm sure. The eight week program sounds like a really good timeline for them.

Do they work with you once a week, so eight times?

Katie Joseph:

Yes.

Katie Ward:

I guess each week they're able to reflect on the challenges that they overcame the week before, whether it was related specifically to the equine assisted learning program or something else that happened in their life.

They probably can use these skills, like you said, toward any challenge, obstacle or something that is out of their comfort zone. That's great. I love hearing all about it. I had no idea that they actually did the obstacle course or show at the end. That is amazing. I would love to be able to see that one day.

Kelly Boyer:

We'll definitely invite you for the next one that we have.

Katie Ward:

Maybe I need to take the class, I'm sure I could benefit. That really touched on my next question about the programs that Broad View offers.

Is the 8-week program your main program that you do with the detention center or do you have other programs as well?

Kelly Boyer:

We do have some younger riders from the community that take weekly or bi-weekly lessons with us. We use the same teaching strategy using the zones of regulation work and connecting it to riding. As Katie mentioned earlier, the riders are in elementary school, so they are younger. That's where we envisioned the program going to be more preventative. We want to try to get to the kids when they're younger to teach them these skills of being able to manage their feelings and emotions before they may get to a place like Stevenson House.

I guess the other thing I wanted to mention too is that for some of the students at Stevenson House that we've worked with repeatedly, we've been able to do more advanced work with them. We are teaching job skills with the hopes of them possibly acquiring a job in the Ag field once they are out and able to work.

We have someone now that's very interested in learning more barn management skills and first aid skills for horses so that he could find a job at a farm possibly doing farrier work. For those kids, the eight sessions were structured differently where we looked at various jobs in the agriculture field and gave them an outline of what those jobs may entail and skills needed. We also brought in a Farrier so that they could watch the trimming of the horses and see how that is. We talked about that as a trade, so that expands outside to where we're actually offering jobs skills to the students to potentially find work once they're are of age.

Katie Ward:

That really ties into the assisted learning aspect not just the therapy part, but then also broadening their horizons on the industry and different career opportunities that could lie within equine. That's great.

Kelly Boyer:

It's exciting to see them wanting to learn more about it.

Qualities Broad View EAAT Looks for in a Horse

Katie Ward:

What qualities do you look for in a horse when you're choosing them to work in an assisted learning environment? I do imagine not all horses are the right fit for this.

Kelly Boyer:

Yes, you're absolutely right. Not all horses are the right fit. For Broad View, Katie and I use our personal horses. She has three mares and I happen to have three geldings. It has been fascinating to watch them develop as they've done the sessions up at Stevenson House because what we thought may happen didn't necessarily happen.

You want a horse that has a solid, calm temperament. For the work we do, you want a horse that is responsive for riding. Depending on the size of the student, you need to have a horse that maybe more narrow depending on the student or wide too. That can vary, but temperament is huge thing. It's not for every horse.  

My older gelding is a Morgan and he used to pull buggies in Dover. He was an Amish horse. I've had him since 08’ or 09’, so he’s kind of like the Grandpa of the group. He really took to it and loved interacting with the kids.

My other horse is a Quarter horse who used to be a school horse in a lesson program, so he's had a lot of experiences with all levels of riders. I think he became a little sour to it at the end of his career. It took him a few weeks to realize they weren't going to ride him before he settled in. He then was much more agreeable to work with the kids and he enjoyed it more.

The youngest and smallest pony who is extremely outgoing that we both thought was going to love it, ended up not really loving it too much. We think that it has to do with your energy level. I think these kids can have higher energy and I think this horse was not comfortable around all of that. He tended to gravitate towards some of the quieter students and they did really well with him. I'll let Katie talk to her horses because she has three.

All of our horses are very different, which is fascinating to see how they interact with the students. Her horses are different from mine. She also has a rescue horse, which has really been special addition to the program.

Katie Joseph:

Yes, it's really interesting as Kelly said. You can have your perception because obviously all of our horses are very calm and predictable. We don't want to bring horses up there that we're not sure how they're going to react. It's been interesting over the last few years to watch how they've adapted and reacted to the program.

A lot of riding programs need a very certain type of force and you would think it would be the same, but it's not. The demand is very different. They’re really taking on a lot of the energy and emotions that these kids are bringing to the table. Some horses just handle that better than others.

I have the daughter of my show horse, she's 25 this year and we call her Grandma and the kids relate. If you're messing up, Phoebe will get you straight, but she will also love and spoil you rotten, she loves it. I do a lot of trail riding and people who saw her on the trail a few years ago would probably be shocked that she was a therapy horse now. She could get a little squirrely on the trail because she needed to know where everyone was and what everyone was doing. A bigger group was way too unmanageable for her. She would get really anxious and could be a bit of a problem. In this work, her whole herd is there with her and she takes those kids into her herd and takes care of them. It’s just so amazing to see how dedicated she is and how much she loves it.

We were up at the detention center one day and the wind was blowing like 30- 40 miles an hour and we actually thought about not even going because horses are prey animals. When it's really windy like that, they can't hear very well.  They rely on their sense of hearing and can just get nervous when it is windy. That is something that normally Phoebe would do at home. She'd be on high alert on a windy day, but we took her that day.

At the time we had Phoebe and my mare, Sadie and a little mini named Rosie. Sadie and Rosie spent the entire session running around the yard. They were running around the rec yard like loons and Phoebe who normally would have joined in on that stood there like a statue falling asleep as the kids worked with her.

Kelly Boyer:

She was the only one that the kids got to work with that day. She stayed the calmest for those kids that day.

Katie Ward:

Wow, which is completely opposite of what she would normally do?

Katie Joseph:

The best part was when the kids were back inside, the minute the door closed behind them, she spun and went after the other two like they didn’t do their job.   

Kelly Boyer:

It really looked like she was reprimanding them. She was yelling at them, giving them an earful because she was very upset about how bad they were. She just takes her job very seriously and she's amazing at it. It takes a lot of patience for these horses.

We tell all the students that it's okay if you're afraid, that's normal. We tell them to move at their own pace. We don't push them to do anything that they're not comfortable with. By giving them that respect that they are in turn very respectful to the horses and to us as well.

Katie Joseph:

Sadie is my main ride. I will ride that horse anywhere. She's an amazing, wonderful trail horse. She’s really athletic and really smart. We've had to change up how we do things with her because she is so sensitive that she can't tolerate the high energy, high anxiety kids. She wasn’t putting anybody in danger, but she was making it very clear to us that she was not enjoying herself and we have to respect that.

Just like people have different things that they enjoy or don't enjoy, so do horses and she was not enjoying the job. We ended up leaving her loose and we let her pick which kid she feels comfortable working with. This most recent session, we watched her connect with a new student. It was amazing to watch them together.  

The third horse that I have right now is Roo. I took her in as a foster from a rescue organization called Heart of Phoenix out in West Virginia. She needed a certain type of situation that I could provide at my barn. My plan was to help get her rehabbed and then adopted, but she's here for life. She's just so sweet and she's really adapted well to the work.

The cool thing is a lot of our kids have been in foster care or have had some interaction with family services at some point. Heart of Phoenix puts a brand on all of their horses because they commit to them for life. I had to sign a contract that I would never sell her and that if I couldn’t take care of her anymore, I would send her back.

Not everybody follows those contracts, so they put these brands on the horses so if they end up in a kill pen or an auction, they know that that horse is supposed to go back to Heart of Phoenix. The kids always ask what it is and why they have a tattoo. When I tell them the story of why they get it, they understand that she's protected now and that's the way to make sure she doesn't get lost in the system. I think because of her story, personality and what she's been through, she's very compliant. She's very sweet, but she's also very slow-to-warm up and very slow to trust and show herself. That is something the kids can completely relate too. It is really cool to see her impact in program as well.

Katie Ward:

Yeah, it's almost twofold. You helped the kids, but in turn, they're also helping the horses. That's something that I didn't even really think about prior to this conversation. You think about helping the students who are at the detention student, but you don't really realize the impact that it also could have on you or the horses that are involved.

Kelly Boyer:

Absolutely. It impacts everybody involved, animals include it. That is not something that everybody necessarily thinks about until you're involved in it. Katie came to realize after a couple of years of taking the horses to Stevenson House, how much everybody loves it and how it lifts the mood of the entire building. It really creates a family atmosphere that everybody benefits from.

Meaningful Moments

Katie Ward:

Definitely life lessons for these students for sure.

Do either of you have a success story or a certain moment that's meaningful to you that you wouldn't mind sharing?

Katie Joseph:

We've actually had several students come through the program that are very quiet and I think that's a survival skill or a defense mechanism that they developed over time. Several of the kids that we worked with are what you would call selective mutism, where they only talk when they're absolutely 100% comfortable.

We've had several like that, but the most recent student was super quiet, probably one of the quietest students I've ever worked with since I've been at Stevenson. He's been with us for several cycles and the growth has been amazing. His teachers come up to us in the hallway to tell us that he is participating in class without being asked. He's lighter, happier and more engaged in instruction. We saw the same thing out in the yard. He really connected with the horses.

We see the connection with the horses, development of empathy and the increased confidence in realizing I can make this 1200 pound animal do something. The feeling that of stepping out of your comfort level to try something new and being successful at it. Last fall a local television station came and interviewed us and he agreed to be interviewed, which was amazing.

Katie Ward:

Wow.

Katie Joseph:

We all had anxiety to overcome and to practice the skills that we taught to do that. To see him, especially be willing to do that was pretty awesome. He’s the student that Kelly referenced earlier. He loves animals in general, but he's really found enjoyment in the work with the horses. He's a student who's not necessarily a book smart kid. School is not always where he has excelled. Seeing him putting those pieces together, connecting the dots and thinking about when he leaves us, and how he could use this to better his life, is just amazing.

Katie Ward:

That's wonderful. Thank you for sharing that.

Kelly Boyer:

I have one more story to share about a volunteer if we have time?

Katie Ward:

Yeah, of course.

Katie Joseph:

We also have a volunteer that has worked with us in the past, who has been very upfront and honest about his own experiences with PTSD. He's a military vet and he's been helping us in the program. He told us specifically that just being a helper has helped him.

Having the connection with the horses, being able to see the kids learn and work through these skills, allows him to learn the skills vicariously. It’s really interesting to see what this gentleman saw with the program, gave him the courage to get extra help and pursue more intensive therapy. The impact that he had has been amazing as well.

Broad View EAAT's Mental Health Efforts & Support

Katie Ward:

That kind of leads me into my next question, which is how Broad View contributes to mental health efforts and support? 

That story right there kind of tees it up that it not only helps the students involved, but also any of the volunteers.

Katie Joseph:

Right, and us as well and any of the staff that are helping us and supporting us. Last summer because of COVID, we were really limited in what we could do at the school. I'm an employee, so I could be there, but Kelly was a contractor, so she was zooming in and the teachers were holding the iPad out with the horses.

The teachers even said that by them having the background information on the zones helps to better serve the students. They can recognize that they’re in the yellow zone right now, or they're about to head into red and they need to remind them to use a strategy or just give them a minute to get it together.

Kelly Boyer:

This is something that seems so simple when you first see it. Its blocks of colors and each color represents a certain emotion, but it is something that everybody can benefit from. I wish it was taught across the board because in life we all deal with your emotions. I think so many of us, including the students that we work with just never had the opportunity to realize it's okay to be upset, sad, tired, depressed, happy or exhilarated.

It's okay to feel all those things throughout a single day. You don't live in any one forever. You're not angry all the time. It’s learning the skills of how to manage them. Then also learning how to identify when you're getting into that yellow or red zone, and then knowing what skills can help you come back down to a more calm state. That has helped all of us.

I mean I do it throughout my day. When I'm driving and I'm anxious if I'm running late, I'll do my deep breathing exercises. I think that alone is a huge process to everyday life for the students and for the staff that helps us as well. It makes us even better for our horses.

This has helped us really be able to ground ourselves more. That’s where you get into a deeper connection and relationship with your horses too. We've been able to experience that, so we're then able to help the students feel that connection, that deeper relationship with the animals. That’s what puts us on cloud nine when we see those connections being made.

Katie Ward:

Like you said earlier, this past year has been very stressful, so I'm sure those skills came in handy during the pandemic as well.

Katie Joseph:

Oh, for sure.

Kelly Boyer:

Most definitely, yes.

Importance of Mental Health Support in Ag

Katie Ward:

So a little bit now of your own beliefs.

Personally, why do each of you think that mental health support and acknowledgement is so important in the agriculture industry?

Katie Joseph:

I can hit that one first. I mean, it’s twofold for me. One as the wife of a farmer. We know that farmers are at higher risk for a lot of mental health issues, so making sure that some of the stigma is taken away from that so that they can take good care of themselves is really important to me personally.

The other piece that I think about all the time about why this program is so effective and why a lot of programs like ours are so effective is that our bodies are built for this. Up until very recently we were farmers and that's how we survived. That’s what our bodies were meant to do.

Because of technology and development, there's a lot of people that don't have access to that anymore. The kids laugh at me when I tell them that the barn is my Zen space. I get up at five o'clock in the morning and go scoop poop and I love it. It's the best part of the day.

For me, that's my quiet time, that's my reflection time. I watched the sun come up and there's just nothing that equates to that. I also think a lot of these kids get to interact with animals in a way they never would have, and it helps them. My dream, if I won the lottery would be to have a farm based school where we could address kids' needs in that way. They would have a place where they can slow down, where they can feel safe. It would be a place where they can connect with nature, where they can grow a garden and where they can build a relationship with an animal.

In my mind that is what’s going to help them and help them get better faster. It may not work for everybody, but I just feel like our bodies are designed for it and people just aren't getting the opportunity to do that, if that makes sense.

Katie Ward:

Kelly, what about you? Same question.

Why do you feel mental health efforts and support is so important in the agriculture industry in general?

Kelly Boyer:

You know, for much of the same reason, I think it's just extremely important to acknowledge the stress that individuals in the agriculture field are in. I don't think it's acknowledged nearly enough and recognized how hard they work. I think it's important that they can have the skills to help them stay grounded and have a well-balanced life too.  

Knowing Katie and her husband, that can be very challenging and difficult to do to have a balanced life the majority of the year. I think it's extremely important for the ag fields to just acknowledge the stress that they're under and also the fact that we need them. Agriculture is a needed industry for us to survive. We rely on them for our basic needs, so I think it's very important that we also support them in any way we can too.

Katie Ward:

Most definitely. We came out with some stickers last year during the pandemic that we were giving out to customers that said “farmers are always essential.” I know the talk last year through the media was essential workers and being very appreciative for them. Obviously our healthcare workers hands down, we tipped our hats to them last year.

This was our gentle reminder that farming never ends and that we always need farmers and they will always be working. As you said, they are always under stress, so any way that we at Farm Credit or as the agriculture community can provide any type of support or efforts towards mental health is definitely what we're striving for.

Kelly Boyer:

I applaud Farm Credit for that because the agriculture field deserves that recognition and that support.

Lightning Round

Katie Ward:

Definitely. Well now to lighten the mood a little bit, we're going to play a fun lightning round game. I do have to give credit to my coworker, Johanna. She has had horses for years and she's the one who encouraged me to horseback ride with her last year. She and I created some of these lightning round questions.

I'm going to go in order and I'll say who I would like to answer the question first and you just have to choose your answer as fast as you can. Don't think about it, no time to explain it, and then we'll move right on to the next one. Okay?

Katie Joseph & Kelly Boyer:

Okay.

Katie Ward:

All right. We'll start off with Katie.

What's your preferred horse snack? An Apple or a carrot?

Katie Joseph:

Carrot.

Katie Ward:

All right.

Kelly, do you like to ride Western or English?

Kelly Boyer:

English.

Katie Ward:

Okay.

Katie, do you prefer a mare or a gelding?

Katie Joseph:

Mares for life.

Kelly Boyer:

Geldings forever.

Katie Ward:

Kelly, what's your favorite barn chore: Mucking stalls, feeding, or turning out horses?

Kelly Boyer:

I say all the above.

Katie Ward:

We already know Katie's favorite is mucking stalls.

Katie, your favorite horse grooming products?

Katie Joseph:

This is a fairly new one and I can't remember what it is called. It’s a grooming glove that has massages or nubbies. It’s the best thing ever.

Katie Ward:

Oh, I have one of those for my dishes I think.

Katie Joseph:

I thought you were going to say for your dog. They are good for dogs and cats too.

Katie Ward:

I'm sure my dog would love it if I use that on him.

All right Kelly, favorite type of horse: Bay, Paint, or Appaloosa?

Kelly Boyer:

That's a tough one. I hate picking favorites when it comes to this. I have a Paint right now, so I'll say Paint.

Katie Ward:

Okay. And Katie, what is your favorite season of the year to ride?

Katie Joseph:

Fall, hands down.

Katie Ward:

Okay.

Kelly, would you prefer to walk, trot or canter?

Kelly Boyer:

Cantering is pretty awesome.

What do you Advocate for?

Katie Ward:

Well, thank you all so much. That was fun. I feel like any of our horse lovers who listen, will definitely be able to relate to those questions and feel like they know both of you even better.

We always like to close out our podcast episodes with one final question that we ask each of our guests. What do you advocate for in agriculture?  Katie, do you want to start us off with that answer?

Katie Joseph:

Sure, I think that I kind of hit on it a little bit earlier. We need to make agriculture more accessible for those who may not even know that they need it.

Katie Ward:

Yep. Definitely.

What about you, Kelly? What do you advocate for in agriculture?

Kelly Boyer:

In addition to what Katie said, recognition comes to mind. Having the agriculture field being recognized for how hard they work.

Katie Ward:

Yes, definitely. I can agree with both of those.

Thank you so much for your time and sharing your amazing program with us today. We are going to put this in the podcast website, but if you want to let our listeners know where to find you online, either website or social media?

Katie Joseph:

We have a website, www.broadvieweaat.com and we're under the same name on Facebook and Instagram.

Katie Ward:

Awesome. Well thank you both. I hope you have a great spring and a great program that you just kicked off.

Katie Joseph & Kelly Boyer:

Thank you so much.

Katie Ward:

Thank you all for listening to our podcast episode today. Please remember to rate, review, subscribe, and share this with a friend. You can get podcasts notes and subscribe to email alerts at mafc.com/podcast. If you have a topic or guest suggestion, you can send them to us via email at podcast@mafc.com. Have a great week and keep on advocating.