Even though there aren’t as many Sisters of Providence educating in the classroom as previous decades, the sisters provide an exceptional outdoor classroom where interns are immersed in learning about sustainable agriculture at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.
She grew up on horseback and works on her family’s Texas ranch raising beef cattle, sheep, and goats and crops like corn, sorghum, cotton, wheat, oats, and coastal hay. She had to come to Indiana to get to know alpacas, though.
“Before I came here I had never touched or seen an alpaca,” she said Monday. “I’ve learned a lot about the alpacas.”
She also spent time planting and harvesting vegetables in White Violet Center’s 7-acre USDA certified organic garden. The staff plants cover crops for a variety of reasons — adding nutrients to the soil and attracting beneficial insects and pollinators.
“I learned more about the different cover crops,” she said. “Something that looks like a weed might be there for a reason.”
I believe there is also a reason Elaine wound up at this ministry for the summer, too.
It was in the first week of her internship back in May when she got an idea for her individual project while learning how to halter train the younger alpacas.
“The traditional halter has a nose piece that slips and the side pieces cover their eyes sometimes,” Elaine said Monday while presenting her final project. “I started practicing with baling twine, then braided one with adjustable pieces.”
There is a lot more to it, but Elaine is now on her way to having a prototype of an alpaca halter she would like to patent someday.
Not only is she hoping to create something useful for the alpaca industry, she spent many hours assisting Sister Joni Luna, who is also from Texas, coach volleyball to 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-graders.
Elaine, as all interns, has contributed much to the community of the Sisters of Providence this summer. Thank you for choosing to spend the summer with the Sisters of Providence, Elaine! May Providence follow you back to the ranch and beyond.