New Mexico Ranch Wants To Use Wildfire To Educate Kids, People With Disabilities

New Mexico Ranch Wants to Use Wildfire to Educate Kids, People With Disabilities

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CLEVELAND, N.M. – Valuable lessons from the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon wildfire may soon be extended to individuals with disabilities and students at Collins Lake Ranch, a sanctuary that was protected by fire suppression efforts.

Located in Mora County, Collins Lake Ranch is a permanent residence for people with disabilities and their mentors. The property spans 300 acres and is surrounded by forest.

Despite the fire scorching approximately 150 acres, the ranch was fortunate to avoid significant damage as backburns were strategically lit on the outskirts of the property. Steve Smaby, the owner of the ranch, credits these preventative measures for saving the facility.

The wildfire ravaged over 340,000 acres of land and countless structures in nearby communities. However, due to the diligent efforts of the firefighters, the facilities at the ranch remained unharmed, besides minor flooding and road damage.

Inspired by this experience, Smaby aims to transform the ranch into an environmental learning center. He believes this would provide a unique educational opportunity for children and individuals with disabilities. Smaby envisions the ranch as a "learning lab," where visitors can witness the aftermath of a fire and observe the stark contrast between burned and untouched areas.

During the pandemic-induced school closures, Smaby took the initiative to equip the ranch with WiFi. He invited a few teachers to conduct classes there, and this venture positively impacted the lives of the students. Smaby hopes to expand on this educational focus by offering outdoor classes once a week at Collins Lake. These sessions will include activities such as planting seeds and teaching fire safety. Additionally, various groups, including religious and environmental organizations, have shown interest in utilizing the ranch’s facilities.

Above all, Smaby believes that every child should have the opportunity to spend time outdoors. His dedication to creating an inclusive and educational environment at Collins Lake Ranch is driven by this belief.

Source New Mexico operates within the States Newsroom network, which consists of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors. It operates as a 501c(3) public charity, ensuring editorial independence. For any inquiries, contact Editor Marisa Demarco at Stay updated with Source New Mexico on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Bailey Williams is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog as a way to share her insights and knowledge with her readers. She has been teaching for over 10 years and has a deep understanding of the school system and how to help students reach their goals. Her blog is packed full of helpful information and resources, so be sure to check it out if you're looking for help with your schoolwork!