Our Mission on the Road

December 12, 2019

Candlelight Ranch successfully completed the first installment of its community-based program Outdoor Explorers, serving Special Education VISTA classrooms from Round Rock ISD.  Over the course of six consecutive weeks, twenty students with special needs explored the wonders of nature by participating in experiential and educational nature-based activities at Brushy Creek Park in Round Rock. Each week students discovered a new theme including plants, mammals, insects, reptiles, fish and birds. In addition, they experienced new outdoor skills like fishing, catching insects in a net, potting plants & using binoculars to spot birds and mammals.

Through Outdoor Explorers, students have increased their engagement and knowledge, from not understanding the difference between a bird and a mammal to being able to name types of native Texas mammals, overcoming personal fears of the outdoors and engaging on a level yet unseen by their teachers and peers. As one teacher explains, ” I see so much more engagement in my students during this program, it opens up their eyes to the world around them and gets them thinking – wow, there might be a fish in that pond, birds in those trees, and insects under those rocks. It gets them out of their head and engaged with the world. This has been just wonderful for all of us.”

On the last day of the course and as a graduation celebration, students spent an afternoon at Candlelight Ranch meeting the horses, hiking to Jeri’s Serenity Spring, playing in Reese’s Treehouse, completing a scavenger hunt in Martin’s Food Forest and flying through the trees on our ziplines! We look forward to continuing Outdoor Explorers in the spring with students from not only the Round Rock but hopefully others!