Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Orlando, Florida, philanthropist Karin Taylor has devoted her remarkable life to not only raising her five children alongside her husband, but to relentlessly give back and to make a difference in the lives of local at-risk youth, foster children, and veterans through her unique hands-on equestrian therapy programs through establishing the Weisberg Family Foundation. Karin created the Weisberg Family Foundation, a private innovative philanthropic organization, to help those in need through volunteerism and financial support. The Weisberg Family Foundation's incredible programs include the Academia de la Esperanza (Hope Academy) in the Dominican Republic, Vanessa's Wish, the Charitable Children's Program, Kids' Camp, and the Homeschool Connection. The foundation set up a trip to Universal Studios for 60 underprivileged children in the area, and aims to inspire others to volunteer with their family and engage with their partner organizations.
Florida's Weisberg Stables is a stunning 20-acre farm known for their sensory petting zoo, farm tours, equine assisted learning, and riding lessons/clinics. Home to an array of over 150 animals, which range from chickens and tortoises to ponies, emus, and even a wallaby, Weisberg Stables brings "a stable life" to at-risk, underprivileged youth, and home school groups. Karin has always been passionate about family and animals and believes that it's important to give time, talent, and resources to those in need. She, along with her husband, love seeing the joy their animals can bring to others. She has recently partnered with the Salvation Army and has donated care packages to Hurricane Irma victims. Additionally, Karin serves the Hart for Horses organization as a board member and donor. Karin currently resides in Jupiter, Florida with her husband and 5 homeschooled children. The entire family is involved in volunteering their time and energy with The Weisberg Family Foundation. When she's not tirelessly running the foundation, Karin is planning the launch of a new inspiring podcast and novel to launch in 2018.
How did you get into the animal assisted therapy industry?
I first saw the power of animal assisted therapy when I was dealing with the loss of our daughter, Hunter, whom I lost during pregnancy due to Trisomy 13. I have always found joy through relationships with animals but after the loss of our daughter I took up riding with my daughters found a lot of healing through interacting with our horses. Since we’ve always believed in sharing our resources it was a natural extension for me to invite some of the youth we were working with to the farm. That’s when I truly realized how intuitive horses were.Thus began my appreciation and love affair with equine assisted learning and animal interactions.
Any emerging industry trends?
Animal Assisted Therapy and Equine Assisted learning are gaining widespread acceptance and recognition worldwide. This is opening the door to more studies and opportunities for financial assistance to promote or run these programs.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The biggest challenge we face is labor. Many farms across the United States are also facing the same challenge as work visas become harder to obtain and there just isn’t a skilled and knowledgeable labor force readily available. We have begun recruiting out of state to fill our positions and have had to implement a training program to train up the staff we will need in the next few years.
Inspiration for the animal assisted therapy and your vision for Weisberg Stables?
It is my hope that we could inspire and encourage others to share their time, talents and resources with others. I feel strongly that everyone is uniquely created to make a difference in this world and I hope that by sharing our story we would inspire others to do the same thing, particularly in the field of animal assisted therapy and equine assisted learning. I hope what we do on our farm will also inspire other farms to open their doors and share their facilities and animals with senior citizens, youth, special needs children/adults and our veterans.
What's next for Weisberg Stables in the near future?
We are currently working on a program for Veterans which would combine America’s Heroes with America’s Wild Mustangs and offer opportunities for both to find purpose and safety. Through this program Veterans would team up with trainers to gentle and train a mustang which will then be auctioned off at the end of the training period. Half of the proceeds would go to the veteran to help him/her begin a new life and half would go towards rescuing another mustang out of a holding pen and providing this program to another veteran.
Your key initiatives for the success of Weisberg Stables?
We have been very successful in partnering with likeminded organizations who are already serving the same individuals our programs are geared towards. By joining together we have an opportunity to supplement their existing programs and make a bigger impact in our community. We hope to continue to share our story and successes with others.
Your most difficult moment at Weisberg Stables? (and what did you learn?)
We have grown faster than we’ve been able to hire and train staff which has meant that I’ve had to wear a lot more hats than I originally anticipated. What I learned is that with the right team, you can accomplish anything and by wearing the additional hats I have gained more insight into the day-to-day operation of a farm. What I’ve learned was ultimately worth the extra hours and stress.
Ideal experience for visitors?
Our goal is always to have our visitors leave our facility on a positive note and in better spirits than when they arrived. Their time at our farm should be filled with peace, tranquility, wonder, healing, education and hopefully laughter.
How do you motivate others?
We try to motivate our team through sharing the vision and purpose of our farm and letting them know how important every position/person is towards obtaining that vision. We have also created a list of 17 ideals that we share with our team, called “The Weisberg Stables Way”. Each week we focus on one ideal from the book as a team and hold each other accountable.
Career advice to those in the animal assisted therapy industry?
Don’t give up. If it was easy, everyone would already be doing it. Believe in yourself and believe that every obstacle and challenge is preparing you for the next phase of your eventual success.