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. 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 one of the powerful things about the generous support we receive from friends across Connecticut and beyond, is that it helps us provide many different options to reach young people who are in trouble and to draw them towards a different path. For some of our past students, including Trevor, a young man who was unable to focus on school work in a classroom setting, this can mean finding purpose and knowledge by assisting with piglets in the middle of the night.
(To read about Trevor and his experience at CJR, click here.)
The goal of all CJR programs, which serve approximately 1,800 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. Last year, thanks to a generous grant from a very special CJR friend, we launched 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 Fish Farm and other highlights of the CJR Farm; 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.
I’ve seen some pretty tough street kids become amazingly nurturing when caring for animals. 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. Click here for Chef Mike Cantu’s latest recipes.