Our Programs

Enrichment Programs

Rancho Cielo’s beautiful, 100-acre property provides opportunities for students to experience science education, outdoor recreation and enrichment activities, including beekeeping, dog care and training, bike mechanics/riding, horsemanship, gardening, fishing, and art. These programs, alongside direct services, play a key role in Rancho Cielo’s holistic support of students’ education and personal and professional development. The majority are administered through generous partnerships with local individuals and nonprofit organizations supporting the growth of at-promise youth in the Salinas Valley and Monterey County.

How do Rancho Cielo’s enrichment programs benefit students?
Rancho Cielo’s Enrichment Programs are accessible to students and supplement our vocational training and academic education. They are not required and may be taken as electives toward completing a high school diploma.

It’s not uncommon to hear students say they feel calmer, happier and more motivated in their studies after participating in one of our enrichment programs. These activities are designed to provide fun, educational experiences that allow students to discover and learn new things they may not have imagined themselves doing or would have access to, which often transform their lives. 

Students gain knowledge and hands-on experience in specific activities and essential skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, responsibility, and accountability. The impact is powerful and positive for overall well-being, building self-confidence, self-esteem, and respect and patience for oneself and others. 

Programs

Through a partnership with Living UnChained, our students learn how to work with and positively train rescue dogs. By providing a supportive environment for the dogs to learn basic cues and manners, students can better understand what helps them learn while enhancing their empathy and leadership skills. It can also create a sense of purpose and connection as students learn to care for and train these animals for adoption to permanent homes.

Rancho Cielo partners with Hope, Horses & Kids to bring professionally facilitated equine-assisted learning (EAL) activities to the campus. Students develop life skills for educational, personal, and professional growth. EAL is based on the idea that horses can help us create new ways of thinking and behaving. Activities often center on problem-solving, relationship building, and critical thinking, assisting students to develop trust, self-confidence, discipline, awareness, and focus, among other skills, through the equine-human bond. Students also gain basic horsemanship in the process.

Rancho Cielo has more than 200 bicycles for learning safety, maintenance and mechanical skills. This empowering program encourages independence while providing the benefits of physical exercise. It’s also good for the environment. Students are gifted a bicycle to ride and maintain, allowing them to explore Rancho Cielo’s trails and challenge courses or use it as an environmentally friendly means of personal transportation.

Rancho Cielo’s bicycle program also makes an impact on the surrounding community. The students will set up a mobile bike repair booth at local schools and events, such as Ciclovía in Salinas, which promotes healthy behaviors, accessible recreation and community building.

Rancho Cielo has 20 beehives in its apiary, where students learn about bees, their process of making honey, and how to harvest it. They have the whole beekeeping experience of wearing professional protective clothing as they learn how to work safely with the bees and care for the health of the hives.

Students also learn about bees’ importance to ecosystems, conservation, and the critical need to preserve their habitats. By connecting with nature, beekeeping contributes to something greater than themselves. The honey students harvest is used by Drummond Culinary Academy students in meals prepared for Friday Night Dinners. The honey is also available for sale in small batch quantities to the public.

Getting their hands in the dirt gives students a literal hands-on connection to the earth, sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. Our master gardener demonstrates how gardening activities can provide a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to nurture living things. The garden is rife with plants that students can experience cultivating, nurturing and harvesting throughout different seasons of the year—fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and more.

Additionally, growing healthy produce provides access to nutritious food options and develops practical life skills. The Drummond Culinary Academy utilizes the harvested items for learning culinary skills and the cuisine for Friday Night Dinners.

We are so lucky to have the expert guidance of instructors from the Arts Council for Monterey County leading the way, encouraging students to experiment with various art mediums and techniques (painting, illustration, public murals etc.) as a creative outlet to express themselves. This allows them space to explore feelings and process experiences while developing self-awareness and coping skills. Over time, the program can foster healing, resilience and a positive sense of self. Rancho Cielo also has dedicated space for murals, where students can contribute a lasting piece of art on the property and inspire all to see.

Rancho Cielo has two ponds stocked with small-mouthed bass and bluegill for learning catch-and-release fishing. Fishing presents a peaceful opportunity for students to unwind and relax, helping them manage their emotions and find moments of calm. The activity can also allow time for mentorship and bonding between students and instructors. Fishing provides a direct connection with nature and develops patience and focus—not to mention the thrill and accomplishment of a catch.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS