Environmental Leadership Program

Mo-Ranch is the home of the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), a hands-on outdoor/environmental education program located along the banks of the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country.
We use approximately 500 acres of Mo-Ranch property and a half mile of Guadalupe River frontage as a living laboratory.

Overview

The Environmental Leadership Program has been offering quality outdoor and environmental education opportunities to schools and other groups from Texas and beyond since 1989.

The recreation facilities of Mo-Ranch provide an awesome outdoor classroom on the land, in the water—and even in the air.

A variety of housing options are available, all of which are climate-controlled and provide separate sleeping areas for males and females.

Meals are served in the King Dining Hall, where our kitchen staff prepares three nutritious meals a day and strives to meet special needs. Our Reduced Food Waste Policy educates students about food, the environment, and being good stewards of our natural resources.

We pride ourselves on working hand-in-hand with the faculty of each school to design a program that best suits the needs of their students. Come inside and see what we can do for you.

Our Goals

To make use of the natural, outdoor environment as an alternative educational setting for activities that promote personal, academic and spiritual growth.

Objectives

  • To promote growth in group cooperation and leadership skills, self-confidence and self-worth through challenging activities in a supportive environment.
  • To promote a sense of community involvement, belonging and responsibility through daily living in a residential setting.
  • To stimulate interest and achievement in academics through hands-on, interdisciplinary activities that show real life relevancy.
  • To develop environmental awareness and an understanding of responsible management of our natural resources, through learning and living in the natural environment.
  • To provide the individual and/or group an opportunity for spiritual growth through reflection in a natural environment, free from many of society’s daily distractions.
  • To provide positive adult role modeling through the participant’s interactions with the ELP staff and their group leaders.

Explore Our Environmental Leadership Classes

Activity Descriptions

Reptiles

Dispel the myths, fears and misinformation about reptiles through hands-on discovery. Classification, characteristics, food web and ecological benefits are all discussed as participants view, touch and handle a variety of live specimens.

Wildlife Ecology

Discover and understand ecological concepts that affect our wildlife through active games, nature discovery hikes, classroom discussion and exploration of live specimens and their habitats.

Freshwater Ecology

Discuss man’s effects and dependence on this important natural resource. Practice hands-on scientific methods of discovering water quality through direct observation and sampling live invertebrates.

Reduced Food Waste

All groups will have the opportunity to participate in this program during meal times. Participants are asked to make wise choices about the foods they eat. The group’s food waste is measured at each meal and short discussions follow about the effects of food waste on all of our natural resources.

Discovery Walk

Take a casual hike along one of Mo-Ranch’s beautiful trails where participants, with the aid of their instructor, will discover nature, dead or alive, from animal tracks to wildflowers, insects to edible plants, and fungus to natural dyes.

Birds

Explore the unique characteristics that make a bird a bird: feathers, flight, and eggs. Then practice scientific observation while bird-watching with binoculars throughout the various habitats of Mo-Ranch.

Arthropods

Learn how these invertebrates fit into the classification system and natural ecosystems through hands-on discovery of preserved and live specimens. Spend time outside viewing, collecting, and identifying critters in their natural environment.

Activity Descriptions

Canoeing

Participants first learn small craft water safety, a small history of canoes, the parts of a canoe and paddling techniques. Then it’s into the canoes for an adventure on the Guadalupe River. Teamwork, physical exercise, and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our natural surroundings and the river’s inhabitants are all a part of this activity.

Archery

One of the few sports today where men and women compete equally. Archery has had a long history and has been found in almost every culture. Listening skills, responsibility, accuracy, safety, and patience are all put into practice while participants learn basic archery technique, and then get to try their hands at target shooting.

Compass Course

It takes math and geography skills to accomplish our map and compass course. After learning parts of a compass and setting a bearing and finding an attack point, teams are off to complete the first course.

Orienteering

After completing the compass course, participants are taught basic map reading skills and methods of finding a compass bearing. Then, on their own, teams put these skills to practice on our seven-acre orienteering course.

Activity Descriptions

All ropes course activities are “challenge by choice”. Participation is based on the individual’s choice and level of comfort.

Initiative Games

Icebreakers and non-traditional, cooperative games help participants solve problems, develop teamwork, and work on group skills through play.

Low Elements Ropes Course

Groups learn to take on challenges through uniquely designed elements. The challenges sequentially increase in difficulty as the group works on group skills such as communication, trust, leadership, problem solving, and planning. Group discussions that process their experiences are an essential part of the activity.

High Elements Ropes Course

Wearing protective equipment, participants negotiate a series of ladders, poles, climbing towers, cables and ropes built 30-50 feet above the ground. Group support, empathy and encouragement are important components while the participant faces the important challenges of trust, goal setting, commitment, and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone to achieve their own individual level of success.

Activity Description

Early Texans

Discuss how the early settlers of Texas lived and survived while trying your hand at some of the skills needed to make their everyday life more enjoyable. Hands-on activities include pioneer tools and toys, candle making and rope making.

Fire, Fire, Fire

Discover the role of fire in the history of mankind and learn some of the primitive techniques of fire starting shared around the world. In small groups start your own primitive fire and enjoy the benefits of roasting a special treat.

Activity Description

Group Games

Non-traditional, large group games that are physically active and always cooperative and fun.

Campfire

Throughout their stay, participants create and practice skits and songs that they will perform at a traditional campfire program. Our staff will gladly add a few special songs, stories, or skits to get things going.  The group will finish up the campfire with S’mores before heading off to their dorm for the night.

Star Gazing

Learn about the nighttime sky. Using planispheres and binoculars, our Instructors teach the basics about the stars, planets, constellations and other astral objects. Learn some of the mythology that goes with the most well-known constellations, and some interesting facts about our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy. Finish up the evening with a look through one of our telescopes trained on a celestial object, getting an up close and personal view! A great opportunity for students that live in areas where nighttime sky viewing is limited by city lights.

Owl Discovery

Fun facts to know and learn about owls. Discuss their characteristics, their role in the food web, and best of all, dissect owl pellets to find out what they eat.

Town Meeting

Become the characters in a town meeting as the City Council listens to proposals from Land Developers who want to purchase land along the river corridor. Discover the environmental, financial, and political issues involved as you create your proposals and debate the issues with the City Council.

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