Happening Now at CJR
Summer is here and the students at the Connecticut Junior Republic’s Litchfield campus are enjoying all the season brings, including a farm full of baby animals and an assortment of crops on the CJR Farm. New calves, kid goats, chicks and many adorable piglets, are favorites with our students and play an important role in the extensive vocational agriculture curriculum young people enjoy as a part of their education at CJR.
When you think of the Junior Republic, your first thought might not include students caring for piglets in the middle of the night. But for some of our students, including Trevor, a young man who was unable to focus on school work in a classroom setting, finding purpose and knowledge can occur when assisting with piglets in the wee hours of the morning.
(To read about Trevor and his experience at CJR, click here.)
The goal of all CJR programs, which serve approximately 2,000 Connecticut young people every year, is to help each child change directions and begin to develop in new and positive ways. This would be easy if all of our kids were the same. They are not, of course. Each child comes to us from a different situation. And their strengths, weaknesses and interests are all unique.
That’s why the strength-based opportunities that CJR offers are so important to our students. Each year, on our working farm, students help raise animals, grow hay, and harvest nearly three dozen different crops. Though a generous grant from a very special CJR friend, CJR students have been able to add a fish farm! Click here to watch a video of the Tilapia farmed by our students. The venture has been so successful that we now have several generations of fish swimming in the same tank!
(To read more about the CJR Farm in our latest newsletter, click here.)
Every student in our agricultural program learns valuable lessons – such as how planting something with patience today can lead to a harvest tomorrow. And the responsibility of caring for another life – especially a baby animal – can be transformational. In addition to our agricultural program in Litchfield, CJR also offers a horticultural experience for boys and girls in Waterbury as part of the Success Always Follows Education (SAFE) Program. Students learn about horticulture and landscaping during a work-based learning summer program funded this year by the American Savings Foundation and the Frederick W. Marzahl Memorial Fund. Read more about this program by clicking here.
I’ve seen some pretty tough street kids become amazingly nurturing when caring for animals and plants. It’s our ability to offer so many options for growth that sets CJR apart and we are able to do this with the partnership and support of special friends who so generously contribute to our organization.
Daniel W. Rezende
P.S. The produce we grow at CJR goes right into our kitchen, where our chefs and students turn it into some of the best farm-to-table meals you’ll find anywhere. This is one more way CJR offers a wide range of experiences that enable our kids to develop practical skills they can use for life.