Wayfinder Schools Student Combines Passion for Animals with Internship

Posted on Thursday March 1, 2012

Four days a week, high school student Grace Wurgler is up at 7:00 a.m. mucking stalls. With a passion for horses, Wurgler works at Pepper Creek Farms as part of her work study at Wayfinder Schools Residential Program.

Wayfinder Schools student Grace Wurgler works with her favorite horse, Catapult, during her internship

An integral aspect of the program, Wurgler and her peers must find internships based on their interests or life goals in order to graduate. Students are asked about their interests upon arrival at the school. Unlike most students, Wurgler had it all figured out. “I’ve been riding horses since before I can remember,” she shared, “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Residential Campus Director Margo Fowler elaborated, “Grace set her internship up herself. She was motivated to find a way to combine her passion for horses with the program requirement.”

A typical morning for Wurgler includes cleaning stalls, breaking ice in water buckets, and turning the horses out to pasture. Pepper Creek Farms is part of DLT Performance Horses & Equestrian Center in Gray. Manager and Trainer Nikki Karlsson works closely with Wurgler. “We have girls come and help us out,” said Karlsson. “It’s hard work and you have to love doing it. Grace is clearly passionate about horses and we enjoy having her here!”

Growing up in New Gloucester, Wurgler knew about Wayfinder Schools, but it wasn’t until Fowler started at the school that she connected with Wurgler about enrolling. “It’s an intense program for students who, for one reason or another, weren’t succeeding in a traditional classroom,” explained Fowler. “But I knew Grace and what she was capable of. Once I started working at Wayfinder Schools I realized that Grace would excel here.”

Wurgler’s favorite part of being at Wayfinder Schools is the small classes. “I’m not afraid to ask questions here,” shared Wurgler; “This is my second chance at a diploma.”

Wayfinder Schools student Grace Wurgler combines her passion for horses with the Residential Program requirement by interning at Pepper Creek Farms four days a week

One of six students in the nine-month intensive program, Wurgler will graduate in June 2012 with a high school diploma. Upon graduating, Wurgler plans to join the U.S. Army or Coast Guard.

“I want to do something more important with my life,” she said. Afterward, Wurgler wants to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and eventually, own a horse.

To learn more about Wayfinder Schools Residential Program and the Career Explorations Program, visit www.thecommunityschools.org/residential-program/work-program.