Overview of the lesson
Featured article: “Some children play sports. These kids train wild horses.“ Photographs by Maggie Shannon and text by Jill Cowan
A remote corner of northeastern California had too many wild mustangs. What could be done? “The people in charge of managing the wild horse population came up with an idea,” writes Jill Cowan. “Have kids across the state adopt them and train them. After six months, they’d show off their skills in a competition.”
In this lesson, you will learn about this program, known as the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge, and how it benefited both the horses and the youngsters involved. You will then identify a problem or challenge facing your community and present a proposal for how young people can be part of the solution.
In today’s featured article, you’ll meet young people who adopted and trained wild horses as part of a community program.
Have you ever worked with horses, wild or tame, before? Imagine you were given this opportunity: would you take it? Why or why not?
Discuss with a partner or small group what the challenges of caring for and training a wild horse might be. What can be the benefits? What life lessons could you learn from this company?
After discussing this scenario further, has your answer to the original question changed? Would you accept a wild horse in your care?
Questions for writing and discussion
Read the articlethen answer the following questions:
1. Why did the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge start? What problem did you want to solve?
2. The author writes, “The Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge taught young participants how to train a horse, and more.” What have the young people learned by participating in this program? Give at least three examples and explain how each of these lessons can be applied to life outside of horse training.
3. The author writes that Cliff Thomas, a volunteer judge at the Modoc County Junior Livestock Show, “said he saw the program as a desperately needed corrective to a decline in youth participation in horse culture.” How can youth participation in horse culture benefit this rural California community? Cite at least one piece of evidence from the article to support your answer.
4. The photos in this article help tell the story as much as the text does. Choose an image that stands out to you and write why. What story does this photo tell? How does it relate to the topics of the article? How does it help us better understand this story?
5. Would you like to participate in a program like the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge? Why or why not? What do you think you could learn from it?
Those responsible for managing the wild horse population in the Modoc National Forest came up with the idea of the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge as a solution to the overpopulation of mustangs in the region. They soon discovered that the program had both benefits for the community i the young people who participated.
What is a problem or challenge facing your school or local community? For example, are public spaces in your community littered with litter? Do students at your school have difficulty making friends? Are there certain streets in your city that are not safe for pedestrians?
What idea or program, like the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge, could you come up with where young people are part of the solution? What benefits could it have for the community and for those involved?
Here’s another example: An elementary school gym teacher wanted to find a way to get kids more active and reduce traffic in his community. So he organized a weekly “bike bus” at school. He discovered that the bus not only fulfilled its two original goals, but also helped children socialize, made them excited to go to school, and brought joy to the entire neighborhood.
Once you’ve identified a problem you want to solve, brainstorm how to solve it. Then choose one and create a proposal that does the following:
Clearly define the issue or problem and how it is affecting the community.
Explain the program, event or activity you are proposing and how it addresses this problem.
Describe some benefits that the program can have for the community and for the young people who participate.
You can add photographs, illustrations or graphics to your proposal to help make your case.
Find more lesson plans and teaching ideas here.