When one listens to Corey Lane, one of the five teenage founders of Nature Fun Ranch (NFR), you hear his passion and unwavering commitment to the youth of Barbados, particularly at-risk youth. Corey understands them. He was one of them two decades ago.
In 1998, Corey, a teenager, was in a dark place and wanted to change his life from one of crime to one of positivity. The opportunity came when Corey’s grandmother gave him twenty-two rabbits and someone helped him buy his first horse “Moving Out”.
With four of his friends, they started a community group and with Corey’s newly acquired animals, they started Nature Fun Ranch – a place of fun and freedom – for teenagers like himself. Within a short time, the group increased from five to fifteen then seventy-five. Twenty-two years later, Nature Fun Ranch is a registered nonprofit organisation running programmes for over four hundred at-risk youth every year.
According to Corey, it was a long and difficult road. Initially, he spent a lot of time trying to convince ‘adults’ that NFR could work. At the time, they did not think that 15 – 16 years were interested in agriculture or even nature.
In 2008, NFR got a lucky break. When working with twenty-one children in one of the very troublesome districts, a proprietor who was impressed with the work that NFR made up to forty acres of land available to set up its facilities. NFR had its first home for its animals and members. NFR later moved to Bruce Vale in St.Andrew where it is located today.
NFR is now recognised as the place where at-risk youth can learn to turn their life around to become productive members of society regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. Magistrates, probation officers and guidance counsellors send young boys and girls to NFR for help.
Corey has received recognition for his work. For him, the awards including the Queen’s Award is “just reminders that make you pause and reflect on the work that you are doing. They are the fuel in your tank to keep you going.” Corey feels the most significant award for him was the ANSA McAL Award.
Prince Harry’s visit to NFR in 2016 was a major highlight for Corey. Corey was elated when Prince Harry commented that NFR exceeded his expectations. NFR benefited from the exposure. The much-needed support to repair and upgrade the facilities were suddenly forthcoming. Work that he wanted to do for years was completed in a day. More parents took an interest in NFR and wanted to send their children there.
The most gratifying and rewarding part of Corey’s work is to see young people transform from ‘terrors in society’ to ‘positive young leaders’. He believes that with love, care, exposure and good role models, young people can overcome the root causes of criminality and risky behaviour to become good citizens. Some who have become successful business people, jockey, farmers, pilots etc say they could not have done it without NFR.
Corey is constantly reevaluating his programs and continues to run NFR on limited resources and capacity while never failing to support the youth. This is the hardest part.
Corey and his team interact with young people 365 days a year from 7.30 am to 10.00 pm on most days.
He wishes the ranch could serve more young people. His goal is to scale up operations at Bruce Vale and open another facility. He wants to build a barn and stables for their twenty-six horse so they can move out of the make-shift stall. His goal is to reach 2,000 youth per year. But he needs funding.
Corey Lane is an example of a young man who turned his life around. Someone with a vision and passion for young people. He has dedicated his life to serving his community by helping to create a generation of empowered, self-confident individuals who just needed a chance. His passion and purpose are commendable!
Nature Fun Ranch is a registered Youth and Community Charity which uses Nature, Fun, Adventure and Learning for the holistic development of children from aged 7.
Contact : Nature Fun Ranch, Bruce Vale, St.Andrew, Barbados
Telephone: 1 246 851 1637
For more articles on sustainability and social engagement in the Caribbean, read our latest issue of ApaNa Magazine.
Issue 4 provides a range of technical articles covering the environment, climate change and renewable energy, corporate giving and features nonprofit organisations including Nature Fun Ranch in Barbados, Ocean Heroes Network in the Cayman Islands, Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance in the Caribbean region.