Passion, Reverence, Venerate

From Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary:

Passion – extreme, compelling emotion, intense emotional drive or excitement; specifically a) enthusiasm or fondness; b) strong love or affection

Reverence – a feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, awe and esteem

Venerate – to look upon with deep respect and reverence. Synonyms – honor, respect, adore, reverence

“Three Little Words” though not so little in what they mean . . . . . . I see it here on the ranch every day, but this particular day was special. It began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. That’s 12 hours of physical labor mixed with 6 hours of emotion – PASSION, REVERENCE and VENERATION.


Ranch staff Lois Sturm, Colleen Gardner, Steven Fulton and intern Michael Galster arrive at the lobby entrance of J.J. Pickle Elementary School at 7 a.m. The plan for this day is to plant, with the help of these young kids, four trees on the campus of the school. That’s one tree for each class that had visited the ranch. Steven had grown these trees from seeds collected here on the ranch. They are Golden Ball Lead Tree, Desert Willow, Shumard Oak and Monterrey Oak.

J. J. Pickle is a Title One elementary school in East Austin. Being in East Austin it serves what is known as a poor neighborhood. The school has four 5th grade classes. . . . Over a one month period each class gets to come to the ranch for a three day two night field trip. For the most part these kids don’t have a grandfather who owns a ranch so being here, experiencing the natural world, going to bed and waking up in silence instead of sirens, these experiences can be life changing for the kids ~ REVERENCE. I know they are for us.


The principal had the students assembled in the school’s auditorium to greet us. This was a big day for them as well as the school. PASSION – the kids were so happy to see “Big Steve” and “Queen Colleen” again. You had to be there to witness the tears and the joy of this sight. Photograph taken by Colleen Gardner.


It was not only us that were mobbed. Colleen had taken her dog, “Buttercup”, along. The kids remembered Buttercup and the fun with her on their ranch visit. Photograph taken by Sofia LaTorre.


It was a cold day, but the kids were eager to help dig the holes. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.


Steven describes every step of the planting: dig a square hole so the roots can grow outward, don’t plant too deep, use mulch or a weed barrier to keep the ground cool and damp. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.


Every tree is protected with a steel cage and a plaque is added that describes the tree. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.


This is Mr. Thompson’s class. The tree is a Golden Ball Lead Tree. Each class has pledged to “look after” their specific tree. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. The following letter was written to us by one of the young students after they spent three days at the ranch.


Here’s Ms. Sayree’s class of young naturalists along with “Buttercup.” Their tree is a Desert Willow, a flowering tree. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. And here’s another letter ~ REVERENCE.


Ms. Pruitt’s 5th grade class now has a Shumard Oak to care for. Here’s another letter from these kids. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. The appreciation for the ranch experience is evident in all these letters ~ VENERATION.


Ms. LaTorre’s class planted the Monterrey Oak. The excitement of these 5th grade kids over the contribution of these trees and the time at the ranch travels through the school. The 4th grade anticipates their ranch trip next year ~ REVERENCE. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson.


You can tell by these letters what it has meant to these city born children to have spent three days on the ranch, a natural world without television and other modern day gadgets and to have spent that time with these educated, interesting and passionate young people.


This small staff is incredible, they are my heroes. They never cease to amaze me. They most certainly are not paid large amounts. No, they are PASSIONATE, REVERENT and VENERABLE . . . . Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson.

In the past few years there has been much written, much discussion and some action about children in nature and children with “nature deficit disorder.” Here at Selah for the past twenty years, we’ve been doing something about it, but I must say the real success of programs such as these is because of the PASSION, REVERENCE and VENERATION of Colleen Gardner, Steven Fulton, Lois Sturm, Michael Galster and volunteers who don’t look at a clock . . . After this emotion packed day at J.J. Pickle School, they arrived back at the ranch and found enough time to “work” the bees!


Steven Fulton, Colleen Gardner, Lois Sturm and Michael Galster. Photograph taken by J.David.

Help Us With a Donation

Perhaps you never thought about it, but Title One school children’s parents as well as the school do not have the money to send their kids to Selah for three days or to have trees planted on their campus. Frankly, neither do we. So we ask for financial assistance from people and sources who feel as we do about the need for nature exposure. If you would like to help us with a donation, we are a 501(c)3 private operating foundation and gifts are deductible to the extent of the law. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636 or donate through your computer by using PayPal.