Q&A with Adam Daurio: The Temple Grandin Equine Center at CSU
Colorado State University has long been seen as one of the leading universities for agricultural and equine sciences. The university recently unveiled plans for the Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC), a first of its kind facility that will celebrate and elevate the role of the horse in society through a focus on the physical and emotional benefits of serving those in need. Designed by Populous, the facility will become a living classroom, blending research with community equine assisted activities and therapies and a focus on educating future leaders. We sat down with Adam Daurio, Director of Administration and Outreach for the Temple Grandin Equine Center, to discuss the facility’s future impact.
POPULOUS: Talk a little about the inspiration behind the TGEC concept and mission .
ADAM DAURIO: The entire concept is really about convergence. If you consider the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry as a whole, it includes students interested in health and animal sciences, practitioners from many professions, participants and clients from the special needs community and military veterans, and general equine enthusiast – it’s really a powerful opportunity to bring together these fields to develop a greater understanding through research. As the largest growing segment in the equine industry and a growing field of study and practice in the healthcare industry, now is the time for CSU to leverage the growth and popularity and create this facility for industry training and learning. Currently, there are no industry-wide standards of education and there’s minimal research to help guide and educate our students. So, CSU decided it was time for someone to step up and stay focused on evidence-based education that can be shared with the industry. As the first of its kind, the Temple Grandin Equine Center will be the hub that helps gather information through observation, education, practice, research and community outreach. Through all of these areas we’ll be able to learn more about horses and their partnership with humans in providing appropriate activities and therapies.
POPULOUS: This unique facility needs to bring together all of the different elements of your mission. Talk a little about how this facility will be distinctive in the industry and the challenge of creating such a multi-faceted venue.
DAURIO: We knew we wanted to include all the unique user groups as a sounding board for what this facility should be – so a steering committee was formed early in the process. This group helped us to identify how these facilities can support the needs of children and adults in our community. We’re also creating a traditional learning environment…with a completely new twist. It will be, in many ways, a living classroom. It will become a place where the program embraces passion but uses facts to offer best practices to the entire industry and gather research that will shape the way future professionals, students, practitioners and the healthcare industry look at the value of horses in therapy. Right now the state of knowledge in the industry is far below where we would like it to be – it’s infantile, really. There are less than 300 English-based pieces of research that pertain to industry. And when we look at the different audiences, such as veterans and autism research, there are even fewer resources. The veteran audience is a huge component to the industry but has less than ten English-based studies, while there are less than 35 studies focused on autism. We are here to change that and the facility itself will play a huge role in allowing us to do that.
POPULOUS: What educational advancements does the TGEC stand to offer CSU?
DAURIO: The possibilities are limitless. Students will have countless opportunities made possible by the facility itself. Right now the CSU horses are only used for our students in internal educational settings, resulting in no public use and interaction. The new facility will change that, housing an equine-based program available for community outreach and public services. CSU students will be learning and providing valuable research while serving the public in a way not possible before. As an example, a student could learn about client services and administrative skills while completing internships that include barn and facility management – while also learning about equine welfare and behavior. Occupational therapy students will further their education learning about additional animal-assisted interventions, while working directly with children, adults and the horses. All of this will result in providing an immediate service to the public through research and education.
POPULOUS: As the first of its kind, this project has the potential to serve as a model for university programs and communities. What does that mean to CSU?
DAURIO: That, above all else, is our number one goal. We want the program and research to provide evidence of how to create a model and standard for the industry. It isn’t single-layered – there are so many different groups and we want to show that off. The research we are doing is multi-faceted and impactful, not just here in Fort Collins, but far beyond our campus. We want our program and research to be a model to help create other programs and show our community, state and nation that horses still have a key place in our lives. Horses helped civilize humanity and today they continue to shape our lives through advancements in therapy and medicine. This facility really has the opportunity to heal those facing challenges, educate those seeking knowledge and provide research data for scientists.