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Crossfire Ranch mentoring program changes young lives

Things have been busy at Crossfire Ranch and we want to thank the Chilton Area Community Foundation (one of five Community Foundation affiliate partners) for supporting the youth we serve through our mentoring program!

Trust, Teamwork & Skill! Way to go Kairo, JR & BoBo!

For those just learning about Crossfire, we help build resilient youth and change the trajectory of vulnerable youth through equine-assisted mentoring sessions and camps. Kids and teens start out in one-on-one sessions with their mentor and an equine friend, then move into small group sessions followed by our Stable Hands phase where they take all that they’ve learned and help new kids and even mentors learn the ropes of horse handling and care. 

“Jump in!” they say, and that’s just what Alijah did! When we first met Alijah last fall, he was often pretty sullen and seemed to feel incapable of change. But like with every other youth or teen that comes our way, it’s “all hands on deck.”

Cohete and one of his favorite humans. He and Alijah found a sweet bond.

Alijah’s sessions were filled with learning how to take care of the horses from picking their hooves and mucking stalls to feeding and leading them. He’s learned about their different “horse-alities,” how to read their body language and adjust his own. Since those first sessions, Alijah has made incredible steps. 

Livvi showing a young friend how to be safe and have fun with Tigg’r

Recently, we brought Darlene Zimmerman onto our team as program specialist. Being absolutely new, there was much to learn about the ins and outs at the barn. With much intentionality, Darlene gave Alijah the opportunity to teach her about the barn and his favorite horses, Cohete. Without missing a beat, Alijah stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. He walked her through safety and horse handling etiquette, feeding and offered her insights into Cohete’s personality, including his incredible way of showing us just where he wants to be scratched and how long he would like that to last.

Alijah BEAMED. His sense of humor also rose to the occasion and we saw this coach/teacher side of him burst forward. The face that first came to the barn has grown a new countenance, and it is radiant. 

Healing, growth and restoration abound at the ranch as both horse and mentors shoulder with Alijah and other kids, who have also gone through incredibly difficult circumstances at young ages. When asked how coming to Crossfire Ranch has helped him, Alijah replied,

“I am able to talk with more people in school that I usually don’t talk to. I  talk about horses and how to work with them. I am able to be calm around the horses. I’ve learned about reading body language, which has also helped with people. [Crossfire Ranch] has helped me find out who I truly am as a person and what my capabilities are.” 

The funds received through the Chilton Area Community Foundation will provide more than 40 mentoring sessions to area youth in 2023 and the ripple effect of that is priceless! Thank you for being a part of offering hope and healing to vulnerable youth!


The Chilton Area Community Foundation is one of five geographic affiliates that the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region partners with. Our other partners include Brillion Area Family of Funds, Clintonville Area Foundation, Shawano Area Community Foundation and Waupaca Area Community Foundation.

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