Valerie and her critters came to visit our classroom today and it was such a great experience for our students who have intellectual disabilities. She took the time to introduce each bird, bunny, or turtle and explained each to our class. It was so much more beneficial for the students to be up close and personal with them in our classroom setting. Thank you, Valerie!
Valerie and Rattlebox have given my kids the opportunity to interact with animals of every sort. My children love to handle and care for all the animals, and they have learned a great deal from their time there. I'm grateful for what Valerie and Rattlebox do for our community.
In this increasingly computer driven world, Valerie does a wonderful job of connecting children with nature. This is so important for them and for the environment.
Valerie has a great gift for helping both animals and children in need. For the animals, the need is daily care for the resident animals and homes for the rescued.. For some children, the need can be simple: exposure to animals and the natural world. For others with disabilities or disadvantages, it can be even more crucial. Valerie has been working with disadvantaged children for twenty years. The other day, she told me, she ran into one of those children, grown up, happy and healthy. He told her what it had meant to him as a child to come to Rattlebox. What better testimonial can there be?
"My granddaughter loves it at Rattlebox. She looks forward to her riding lesson each week. Ms Valerie...."
My 11 year old son absolutely loves going to Rattlebox Nature Center every weekend to take care of the ponies, rabbits and all kinds of rescued animals. Ms. Valerie is wonderful with kids of all ages. Truly a blessing to have a place like this!!
What a wonderful place of learning! Valerie truly has the magic touch with both children and animals.
Review from Guidestar
My son absolutely loves coming here. He talks about it all the time. He first went for summer camp when he was 8, then for his 9th birthday we took the family there. It is pretty much his favorite thing, other than baseball. And I love seeing my sometimes sassy son turn into the sweetest, kindest child around the animals.
This unique nature center allowed me to expose my granddaughter to a world far beyond her suburban princess environment, where she learned to love, appreciate, and respect animals. Children learn important life lessons by using the contact and care they acquire here, and by bringing it back into their own lives.
Good morning Val and Happy (belated) Mother’s Day!
I have heard nothing but rave reviews from the teachers and students that visited with you last week. Thanks so much for always giving our guys something positive and educational to remember!:)
My daughter attended Rattlebox Nature Center this summer and absolutely loved it. This was the one camp she couldn't stop talking about all summer and she is delighted to be able to attend on an off day from school. Valerie was extremely kind and compassionate about the love and care of her animals and she treated my daughter like her own. I was also impressed with the lovely crafts that were completed. This camp truly exceeded my expectations.
Many thanks Valerie. Our kids from CADES loved your presentation, your animals and you! it was a great event.
The staff of Room 116
Valerie and Rattlebox Nature Center are the simply the best. The environment is incredibly kids friendly and fosters individual growth with a hands on experience while being committed to safety. There is a healthy emphasis on learning about nature and our environment and the kids love all the animals. The stories they come home with are worthy of a time capsule.
Long time client
What a wonderful place for all those creatures to thrive. Sharing your endeavors with my daughter has been a blessing. Best wishes.
Valerie and her staff were wonderful. They taught my 3 year granddaughter how to ride and take care of the horses.Valerie has created a loving and caring environment where all the kids feel part of something and want to take part.
I took two of my 8 year old nieces to Rattlebox a few weeks ago because I hadn't seen them in a while and wanted to do something special with them. I decided to take them to Rattlebox Nature Center - what a great time we all had! They were able to hold and pet guinea pigs, turtles, rabbits, birds and dogs. Then we went outside to see and feed the ponies - what treat! The girls were so excited when we were leaving because they received a $5 credit to use in the gift shop . . . lots of choices, and they left with great mementos of the day. They can't wait to go back to ride the ponies, and are even asking that their next birthday be held there. Val, the owner, is such a sweet person who is excellent with kids. All of the animals are rescues, saved from a not-so-good fate (we won't get into that). What great work she is doing, and what a great message to impart to today's youth. Thanks, Val!!
We had an amazing experience with our one and a half year old daughter. It was both fun and informative. To our surprise she even loved riding one of the ponies, Nibble. Thank you for all that you do! What a gem!
My 5-year-old attended a week of summer camp at Rattlebox and loved it! He had no prior experience around ponies, but discovered that he really likes riding. Valerie made him feel right at home, and he had a great time with the other campers.
Such a wonderful place for learning little minds. My children love coming to Rattlebox Nature Center!
Ms. Valerie Gardner is a very kind and generous person. My daughter has been invited as a guest to her nature center summer camp many times. She is actually signed up for a week this July. Ms. Valeriehas also given my daughter2 baby guinea pigs and many accessories for it. She always calls to check how their doing even offered her help as needed. She really cares and her nature center is a wonderful place that shows the kids how to take care of many animals. I would recommend it to anyone. We feel very fortunate to have met her.
Valerie visited our in-school programs on several occasions. Twice she came with beautiful animals (turtles, a rabbit, guinea pig, and birds) and once she came with gorgeous flowers and taught our students how to arrange them in a vase. Our students range from 3 - 21 and all of them have varying levels of special needs. Valerie was able to adjust her presentation style seamlessly as she facilitated the interactions between the students and the animals. She made the information, and really the whole experience, meaningful for both students and staff alike. Her generous and kind nature shine through her presentations and many folks were asking when she would return. We are very luck to have her and her nature center in our community and we will continue to support Rattlebox (and Valerie) in any way we can so that more children may benefit from her work.
We recently had a Pony Party at Rattlebox for our daughter's Birthday. It was the most wonderful party and lots of great memories were made. All of the guests were knocked out with how unique and fun the day was. So great to have the kids outside and enjoying an active, educational, and most importantly FUN day! Thanks Valerie!
Valerie has such an incredible way with both children and adults. Her animals bring joy to all who get to know them. Please keep up the great work!
What a wonderful place! My nieces love coming here! I highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for a summer camp!
We love coming to RattleBox Nature Center. My 7yo daughter loves spending time at the barn and adores the ponies. Valerie is very knowledgeable and passionate! She really gets the kids engaged! Highly recommend!
I work as a volunteer with the animals. It's a great place with a wonderful woods surrounding the property. I also help at special needs lessons which I benefit from greatly.
Rattle box is a highlight in our lives! My 7 year old daughters love caring for and riding the ponies and visiting with and learning about all the other animals. Valerie has made my girls' dream of "having a horse" come true. They're learning so much. Valerie and Rattlebox are treasures!
My girls had a great experience at Rattlebox Nature Center this summer. They loved the animals and loved that they had a responsibility in the care of the animals. Valerie does a great job of teaching them how to be safe and kind to the animals. We will definitely be back.
Rattlebox Nature Center is a true gem. Valerie (the owner) is the kind of person you just plain want to have in your kids' lives. She runs an amazing animal rescue and nature center that not only serves its furry, feathered and scaled friends well, but engages the children who visit deeply in animal care, activism, life-skills learning, and FUN! My children love to spend time with Valerie and I love to watch as her work with them imparts a sense of justice, kindness and responsibility in each of them. It is inspiring to watch her interact with her visitors and campers and to know that there are still people out there who try every day, with all of their heart, to make the world a better place!
Valerie is one of the most influential people in my children's lives. Each week my 2 and 4 year old sons come, not just to ride, but to learn in detail about all the work that goes into caring for animals, to learn how to deal with responsibility--really to learn about life. Rattlebox Nature Center is a gem, hidden the rough! We are so thankful to have Valerie in our lives, and for our children to be exposed to the wonderful values she promotes.
Cannot say enough about how special Miss Valerie and Rattlebox have been to our daughter. Camp and lessons are always a treat. Best part -- Miss Valerie truly teaches the children to have compassion toward all the animals and critters, and she shows the children how special it is to care for them. The children are not at Rattlebox to simply observe or just play with the animals. Whether it be the ponies, bunnies, turtles, birds, hamsters, etc. -- the children are shown to look after and take care of all the animals and critters as part of the Rattlebox experience. Awesome.
My 5 yr old daughter loved Rattlebox Nature Center. She came home always asking if she could go the next day. Next year we will be signing up for more than one week.
My daughter spent time as a camper at Rattlebox Nature Center LTD. She learned how to work with animals, spent time helping younger children, and worked on arts and crafts and played games. She learned tangible skills but she also learned about working together, compassion, and empathy. She had a wonderful experience and keeps asking when she can come back.
"It was amazing and you got to play with animals. Valerie finds things from nature and helps you use them to make really fun and creative arts and crafts". - 9 year old camper
Rattlebox Nature Center is a wonderful place for the rescued animals as well as the children who are fortunate enough to attend summer camp; have a party hosted by the proprietor; attend an educational session; have a scouting program onsite or any of the other ways in which one may take advantage of the Center - all of which my family or friends have for over 10 years. We love it here & keep coming back!
Valerie has been providing a consistent, inclusive, educational natural science-based experience for at-risk youths for 15+years as well as summer animal care camp and CIT training for a growing community.
We love sending our daughter here. Valerie is wonderful and the horses are so gentle. I'd highly recommend rattlebox nature center.
Valerie visited my classroom of nine students, who each have multiple disabilities. She was exceptional with her interactions with the students, and she allowed each student to have plenty of time to look at and/or hold a variety of animals. The students were thoroughly engaged and they all listened attentively as Valerie explained facts about the animals. Wonderful experience!
Valerie and her son Shane brought some wonderful animals to my multiple disabilities support classroom. They were very engaging with the students and allowed each student opportunities to interact with each of the animals. Valerie had an interesting story about each animals background. The students let us know their favorite animals through their smiles and happy vocalizations.
It was such a pleasure to volunteer for Valerie. She is patient and kind to her campers, and she's great at teaching them the importance of caring for animals. Rattlebox is a fun and welcoming environment for everyone, and it is truly a sanctuary for the animals who live there.
Valerie is the heart and soul of this special place. She knows just what is needed for both the children and the animals.
The Nature Center is an inviting place for children of all ages to come an explore nature. This nature center allows children to interact with various animals and also learn in the process. All members of the center are warmhearted and give children exactly what they need ongoing. I have known of this center for years and try to bring my own grandchildren there whenever possible.
I support the concept for allowing young people opportunities to try new things and also take some guided risks in discovering the world of nature. II would recommend this nature center to family and friends and I am so pleased that we have a place like this for kids to come to learn responsibility and the love of animals large and small. Bonue is the love shown each and everyone who touches their feet at the Center. Thank you for your dedication and love!
Bonnie B. Steele
Valerie devotes all her time and energy to Rattlebox and has provided so many children in need of such a resource with life-enriching activities . She cares for all her children and animals with commitment and dedication. The school programs and programs for children with disabilities provide a hands-on learning experience and are a source of inspiration for all participants.
Rattlebox is more than a riding camp. Children learn firsthand the responsibilities of animal care. They are also educated about various species. While on a family canoe trip in VA, we spotted a turtle. The children had been swimming along side of the canoe and we were negotiating with them to keep them inside the boat for our upcoming portage. We warned them that the turtle could possibly be a snapping turtle. My 7 year old son matter-of-factly reported that it was safe to swim as it was a "Painted turtle" due to its markings, and that he guessed all those hours spent at Rattlebox had paid off!
Nate loves Rattlebox. We've gone there for weekend visits since discovering it about a year ago and this summer he went to camp. He really enjoyed the animals and opportunities for hands-on with the added bonus of making friends with other like-minded kids.
Thanks, Valerie, for Rattlebox - a great community resource.
Thanks, Valerie, for Rattlebox - a great community resource!
Rattlebox has been a great experience for my 10 year old daughter. This has been her second year attending camp. The first year she enjoyed meeting and taking care of all the animals. I like that Ms Valerie, the owner, teaches the children responsibility that goes along with having animals by letting them help with all the the chores, even cleaning out the stalls for the horses. They children are taught to respect the animals and treat them with love. This year my daughter asked to go back to camp. Because she is ten she was asked to be a CIT, counselor in training. She was able to enjoy the camp while teaching other children what she has learned from Rattlebox. I highly recommend Camp Rattlebox!
Rattlebox offers the types of experiences ALL children deserve to have: meeting animals, caring for them and learning their needs, feeling empowered by the experiences of riding ponies and providing animal care, spending time away from technology and immersed in a quiet outdoor space. My children love Rattlebox and beg me to sign them up. Cleaning cages, riding ponies, and petting bunnies, dogs, and guinea pigs never gets old for them. Valerie is a patient mentor who teaches the children all kinds of nature facts that they are eager to share at home. Rattlebox is just superb!
I have been volunteering at Valery's for over a year now and I really recommend her animal care 101 class she has every saturday. The kids get to learn the basics of how to take care of animals including how to take care of ponies! Its a lot of fun and a great environment for younger kids.
I highly recommend Rattlebox Nature Center. My daughters are attending camp there this summer and it has been an incredible experience for them. They have really enjoyed interacting with different types of animals and have gained a lot of confidence from this experience. Valerie is wonderful and Rattlebox Nature Center is a very unique and special place!
My four year old daughter attended summer camp at Rattlebox and had an absolutely amazing time. Not only did she enjoy riding the ponies, she enjoyed taking care of them and cleaning up after them. What am invaluable experience for a child. Thank you!!
My girls Milena and Eliya absolutely loved animal camp! They love to be around animals and taking care of them. Would recommend it to any parent.
My daughter Jordan is just finishing her second week at Rattlebox this summer. She said it was awesome. She raves about it and all the fun things they do each day. She loves the horses, and riding them. They learn about animals while interacting with them, in a small, personal group. Jordan can't wait for the day when she is old enough to be a counselor in tranning! Thank you Valerie for another great summer. Butch Eby
I can't thank you enough for a wonderful camp experience for Janie last week. She is still RAVING about every single day she spent at the center, and telling all her friends about how special everything is at Rattlebox (so be on the watch for several calls from interested campers!). We hope to be able to come back to Rattlebox again before the end of the summer. Until then, take good care and keep up the fantastic work :-) Kind regards, Susan Padien
Rattlebox is a wonderful place. My son who has special needs has been going there since he was about 7 yrs old. It has been a truly amazing experience for him. He is now 12 and is a CIT. The experience so far has been great for him to be in a role of "working" and helping out.
Valerie is really great with the children and she is a wealth of information about animals. Her animals are given the best care. We have adopted two from Rattlebox so far. Im sure they will not be the last. This is a great place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I went with my 4 year old daughter for the nature center visit before enrolling to the summer camp. It was an enormous pleasure for both of us, an amazing learning experience and just pure fun being able to see, to touch and to learn about the history of each animal. Valerie strikes as somebody unbelievably kind and compassionate to animals. My usually shy daughter enjoyed it and looking forward to going to summer camp!
My 6 year old son takes horseback riding lessons at rattlebox naure center, and just loves going there and seeing Valaire!!!! Valarie is truly a genuine kind person, there is nothing fake about her! She loves teaching the kids about the animals, and how to take care of them. I also love going out there because there is a sense of piece when you are there, that all is right with the world. Valarie has devoted her life to the animals and teaching the children about the animals, and hopefully with the work that Valarie does with this generation of kids we will have less animals abused in the world.
This is a personal review. I have know Va for years; her kindness towards animals and compassion for kids have found a perfect union in the Rattlebox Nature Center. All Kids seem to respond in a positive when they interact with animals, and Rattlebox gives the kids a chance to do this - and the animals a home. This is a wonderfully worthwhile venture!!
Rattlebox Nature Center consistently provides a healthy learning experience for young children. Valerie Gardner is dedicated and does a wonderful job teaching kids to appreciated nature and animals. They are all so lucky.
Valerie has been amazing in her pursuit of quality education for children. What the children learn when they attend Rattlebox Nature Center is all about caring for animals, being kind and compassionate toward animals and each other. They learn to respect nature and see its beauty. Valerie has the patience of Job and is totally devoted to her campers and her animals. Something we all should be proud of.
My 9 year old daughter has been attending Rattlebox regularly over the last year although we were introduced a couple of years ago. (She had a fabulous, fun and educational birthday party there!). She has a great affinity for animals, and LOVES going to Rattlebox. She not only is able to ride the horses but learns how to care for them, and all the animals there. Her passion for animals overrides any other interests that she has including sports, dance and instrumental lessons. Rattlebox allows her to experience caring for animals of all types, and teaches her the responsibility that goes along with pet ownership.
Rattlebox Nature Center is absolutely amazing! We held my daughter's 8th birthday party there and the kids had so much and learned a great deal about caring for animals and nature. They rode ponies and interacted with bunnies, tortoises, birds, snakes, dogs and cats. My older daughter also did a Girl Scout service day there helping weed gardens, clean animal cages and horse stalls. Rattlebox is a wonderful asset to our community, our children and all the creatures they serve.
My 9-year-old daughter has been going to Rattlebox--the camps, weekly sessions, and even a birthday party or two--for a couple of years, and she (and we) absolutely love(s) it. Though many of my daughter's interests have waxed and waned as she has gotten older, her passion for animals has remained constant. I believe her experiences at Rattlebox have helped nurture this. At Rattlebox, she not only gets to see and learn about a variety of animals, she receives hands-on experience that has always matched her evolving level of responsibility and comfort. We especially like that she can enjoy the experience of riding and helping to care for horses without having to join the Main Line "horsey set." Valerie, who runs Rattlebox, is warm and patient with kids, but she is also honest and direct about what it means to take care of animals. As our daughter has worked her way through the inevitable "Can't I have a (bunny, hamster, pony, etc)" list, she has been particularly well informed about what these different potential pets require in terms of food, shelter, care, and play (which has made pulling off the stock parental deflections--"this kind of pet is a big responsibility..."--more challenging!). Happily, our daughter's ongoing experiences at Rattlebox have taken some of the urgency out of her pet requests, and we look forward to many more years of her enjoying animals with Valerie...
Such a great place for all kids. It is also excellent for children with issues such as gross or fine motor problems. A nice combination of animals and art!