Thanks to the children of SkillsUSA, the pigs have their own home | Wyoming

GUERNSEY — Midwinter can get quite brutal in Wyoming, and for some of God’s smallest creatures at Kindness Ranch in Hartville, it can be windy and cold.

Last Tuesday morning, as the temperature soared to 45 degrees in Guernsey, winds blowing over the mountain in Hartville sent temperatures plummeting at Kindness Ranch in Hartville.

Kindness Ranch not only hit the map last fall, garnering national attention, but has become a well-respected sanctuary with state-of-the-art techniques. As Kindness Ranch, not yet two decades old, has already struggled growing and with the pandemic and needing skilled and caring workers, staff turnover has been an issue in the past.

“Now we have a truly amazing staff,” said Kindness Ranch Executive Director John Ramer. “We are really thriving. We have expanded our farm animal area and now have four new pigs in the last six months. We only had one pig at the start last year and her name is Sally. She now has a boyfriend and they are living the dream.

The pig family is now thriving with some pretty famous pigs.

“I was putting in probes to find more pigs because they’re social animals, and they can’t just be isolated,” Ramer said. “There was a rescue in Southern California that got involved in a large-scale pig rescue where an owner got in over his head and the pigs weren’t modified. increases his rescue from 40 pigs to over 100.”

Rower brought some of these pigs to Wyoming. The problem was that they had no outside accommodation.

Enter the SkillsUSA kids of Guernsey-Sunrise High School and their innovative leader, Troy Reichert.

“I’m always looking for ways for my students to learn skills outside of the classroom that will also help the community in some way,” Reichert said. “Kindness Ranch seemed like a great place to look. In late October, I reached out to John Ramer to see if there was anything my SkillsUSA chapter or workshop students could do for the ranch. Via emails and SMS, John determined that the hog barns were the greatest need. After getting specs on regulations and sizes from the USDA, the project was ready to go. In fact, we couldn’t really starting the project before January due to other projects the kids were doing, but once we started they were finished in about a month.

The project was really a combination of several groups.

“We have a business called Wyoming307woodworkers that we started last year as part of the EdCorps program,” Reichert said. “EdCorps contacted me after winning the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools award in 2019 and offered to be part of our program. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools gives us $1,000 in start-up fees each year to run the company through EdCorps, so since all of our carpentry students have been involved in the EdCorps program and/or SkillsUSA, we just combined everything and used all the branches to create the houses.

The group used Harbor Freight Tools for Schools start-up money to buy all the materials, and after a quick trip for the materials, the kids got to work. They also knew that an anonymous Hollywood celebrity helped bring the pigs to Kindness Ranch, which made the project pretty cool to work on.

“Kids learned how to frame and square a roof, walls and floor,” Reichert said. “They also learned how to cut metals, plastics and the importance of hitting the studs with their screws. Once the buildings were nearly complete, I lined up a date that would work to get them out. The rest is up to the story.

One of the SkillsUSA workers, Rylie Thompson, laughed, “It was fun, even though I just did some paint and helped bring the houses to Kindness Ranch. It was not without its challenges, as perhaps the biggest challenge was keeping Mr. Reichert under control so that he didn’t hurt anyone or himself. We had to make sure he was supervised.

Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary was created and developed by Dr. David Groobman, a human psychologist who, according to Ramer, never really stopped practicing and used those around him, from friends to colleagues who had expertise in areas that would bring quality to his vision. .

Ramer calls Groobman a “man of fantastic ideas who delegates very well and has found the right people to put in place the right facilities to achieve his vision.”

In other words, he didn’t micromanage the people who had the expertise to see and implement his dream. He let them run with their talents and encouraged them to be creative in their giving. Ramer said he was honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of putting the lives of all these animals in his hands every day.

“He founded the sanctuary out of passion,” Ramer said. “He wanted animals used in research labs and teaching facilities to be retired rather than the alternative which was euthanasia and cremation. He was a doctor who knew how many animals were used in clinical trials, laboratory tests and veterinary educational establishments.

The fate of all those animals 15 years ago was euthanasia, Ramer commented. Groobman knew from his medical experience that many of the animals used in the tests could be rehabilitated and adopted. He bought the property in two different phases and gradually over time he invested a lot of money to get the sanctuary he envisioned.

“It was meant to be a sanctuary not only for the animals, but also a destination for people who wanted to experience Wyoming and be around the animals,” Ramer said. “Furthermore, the animals were not eliminated unnecessarily. We could thank the animals for their service. We could also enrich the lives of people looking for a pet.

Hours of operation at the Sanctuary for volunteer visitors are 10 a.m. to noon, then 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Their hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ramer recommends visitors call ahead to visit and set up an appointment, especially if they plan to rent a yurt for one night, which rents for $150.

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