News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Education with farm animals and art

Mia Bradley has an extensive background teaching children from preschool to teens. After having children of her own, she wanted to find work part-time that didn't require childcare for her daughters, Journey and Sequoia. With the cost of daycare too high, working didn't make much sense, so she got creative and came up with a business integrating her three loves – children, horses, and art. That's how Sisters Farm School began in 2019.

When Sisters Farm School opened, at first it was focused on preschool-aged kids. The children learned how to groom horses and a pony, do art, and interact with farm animals on the property including goats, chickens, bunnies, and a miniature donkey named Maddie. Bradley's garden provided educational opportunities about growing food and flowers for pollinators. Through word-of-mouth, attendance grew, and Bradley knew she had a sustainable business.

Going into her fourth summer, Bradley decided to offer spring through fall classes including pony and horse lessons and farm tour classes. Her students come from Sisters, Bend, and Redmond.

"A lot of our students are homeschooled," said Bradley. "We also offer some three-hour, non-school day camps. Last year all our classes were full. I like to keep attendance at around ten students, which helps maintain a quality experience. Some of the art classes are incorporated into animal activities and others are separate classes. I love seeing what the kids create."

Bradley enjoys witnessing the special relationships humans and animals can form through guided lessons in how to interact with each other. Having her daughters, who are now seven and eight, involved is an added benefit.

"I wanted to work from home and have my kids with me. Working on the property with the animals we have made sense. I worked in childcare for 20 years before having my own kids. I taught preschool, swim lessons, and was used to coordinating things and taking students to activities. With my experience working with kids and having horses my entire life, it made sense."

Bradley lights up when she talks about her animals. She's brought together a friendly group of critters who are gentle and happy to spend time with the children. Each animal has a story and a unique personality.

"Our pony Aspen who is 18, came from a refuge in Silver Lake called the Butterfly Ranch. They had around 40 horses, Aspen was the only pony, so he thinks he's a horse!" she laughed. "We're fostering our 25-year-old Tobiano Paint named Chex from Mustangs to the Rescue. He used to be an OHSET horse and used to help take supplies out to firefighters."

Along with the rewarding aspects of a job teaching and caring for children, Bradley says there are other perks as well. "Parents have shared sweet and funny things their kids say after coming to a lesson or camp. One that sticks out was a fall camp last year, when a parent said their child was so excited to go to farm school that they woke up at 4 a.m. ready to go! So sweet. Then there's the little 3- and 4-year-olds having their first time on a horse or pony showing up with cowboy hats and boots and little scarves around their necks. I love providing memories children will remember as they grow up... I want to create those memories for the kids because those experiences are so special."

Located about five miles out of Sisters, Bradley invites parents looking for an outdoor experience for their child, where they can connect with nature, animals, and art through farm tours and hands-on classes, to contact her and learn more about the experiences she offers.

Sisters Farm School's website is sistersfarmschool.com. Email Mia Bradley at [email protected] or call/text at 541-588-2250.

 

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