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Treatment Methods : 4H Therapeutic Livestock Program

At our Ranch campus, youth are given a 4-H animal to raise and care for, raise, and ultimately show at the county fair.  Along the way we use the experience to teach life lessons while working with the animals helps rebuild self esteem and a sense of purpose. 

Head. Heart. Hands. Health. These are the core values the 4-H program uses to empower youth to reach their full potential. For decades, the Idaho Youth Ranch and 4-H have developed a unique partnership enabling both organizations to work toward the goal of promising futures.

4-H animals are a part of IYR’s unique path to healing. Wayward children find themselves responsible for the raising and caring of an animal to be shown at a county fair.  For such children who have never been taught to see their own self-worth or who have never taken responsibility for anything, the idea of being accountable for another living thing is daunting.

There are many paths to the Idaho Youth Ranch. Whether we are helping an angry teenage boy from a good home or a girl struggling with childhood abuse, by making them responsible for an animal we are helping them create a sense of self-worth and success. However, working with the animals is not enough. The magic happens when kids are paired with animals with similar personalities to their own. An angry teenager learns quickly that yelling at a steer does not make the steer do what you want it to do and a fearful abuse victim must learn to find her voice when coaxing a nervous lamb. By teaching the animal, IYR kids also learn from the animals and begin to appreciate what the therapists are trying to do.

Responsibility becomes a habit to IYR kids and builds the courage they need to heal. Head, heart, hands and health come together to heal families at the Idaho Youth Ranch with the help of 4-H. 

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