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Heart-J Impact 2014-2018

A Vision for the Future of Sylvan Dale Ranch

Heart-J Center offers learning adventures that make the most of the rich biodiversity, scenic beauty, and Western heritage of historic Sylvan Dale Ranch. The Ranch serves as an inspiring 3,000-acre outdoor classroom and living laboratory in the Colorado foothills.


The Jessup Family, owners of Sylvan Dale since 1946, are working on a succession plan that will result in the donation of Sylvan Dale to the non-profit Heart-J Center. The tradition of guest ranching (dating back more than 100 years!) will continue and we will create new programs promoting learning, wellness, community building, and more.

Hands-On Learning For All Ages

Heart J Center for Experiential Learning  •  Loveland, Colorado

explore . . . discover . . . create



Since 2014, Heart-J Center programs have served more than 9,000 people, ranging from toddlers to adults.


From 2014 to 2018, about 2/3 of Heart-J participants were children and teens, 1/6 were college students, and 1/6 were adults. 


With the addition of our second staff person in January 2018, Heart-J Center was able to offer a greater variety of programs and serve nearly 3,000 people in 2018.


Plans are in place to continue this trend in 2019, with a goal of 4,000 participants in Heart-J programs in the coming year.


Heart-J Center's programs focus on six thematic areas, each of which makes sense for place-based learning at Sylvan Dale.


Each of the 220 programs Heart-J Center has offered so far has centered on at least one of these program themes.


Many Heart-J programs combine several themes, such as creativity and wellness or nature and outdoor skills. 

A Growing Venture

Program Themes that Make the Most of Sylvan Dale's Natural History, Scenic Beauty, and Western Heritage

Finding Strength in Partnership

To make the most of time and resources, Heart-J Center works hand-in-hand with schools, businesses, government agencies, and community organizations to plan programs for their students, employees, members, and constituents.

Since 2014, Heart-J Center has partnered with...

28 schools from 6 school districts

11 community organizations

30 college and university departments

3 local government agencies

5 businesses

Changing Lives Through

Exploration, Discovery, Creativity, & Connection

Whether participants come to the Heart-J Center for a school field trip,

an art class, or a wellness retreat, each visit to Sylvan Dale

is memorable, and often transformational. 

“The Heart J Center was an amazing experience for our 5th-grade students.  87% of our students live in poverty and 83% are part of a minority demographic, including refugee students. This was the first time some of our students had left Greeley. Many of our students have parents who have multiple jobs or do not have transportation to give their children opportunities to experience Colorado nature. This field trip made that possible for them and they learned a great amount, while also enjoying the outdoors and having an experience they'll never forget.”   ~ Maria Hoxmeier, Jackson Elementary School, Greeley


“The learning that happens when kids and horses come together is magical. Being around horses enables kids to authentically experience their own power, the consequences of their actions, the importance of listening and teamwork. I am so grateful to be a part of the outdoor education trips. The outdoor experience is invaluable ~ it allows students, teachers, and facilitators to be present in a way that doesn't happen in the indoor classroom.”

 ~Leslie Carter, Heart-J Center Volunteer



"This retreat has forever changed me. I typically strive for the absence of misery, but this week I was actually happy. Not only was I able to develop new friendships with my veteran sisters, but I was able to rediscover a part of me that I thought I had lost."

~Michelle, following the Warriors Write! creativity and wellness retreat for women veterans

With Gratitude to the Founding Members of the Heart-J Legacy Circle:

Patricia Davis
Judith Aranow and Vicki Feiner/Rita A. Aranow Family Fund
Bruce and Muriel Hach/Hach Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado

The Jessup Family
The Armstrong Family
The Lavin Family Foundation


Sylvan Dale Cowgirl Legacy Members: Linda Carlson, Leslie Hall, The Jagiello Family, Karen Krueger,

Holly and Ted Heidenreich, Gayle Carey, SilverHawk Russi, Susan Larson, and Susan Ashworth


Sylvan Dale Dude Guest Legacy Members: John and Sharon Slatery, Nancy Stoops, Ted and Helen Lardner, Paula D'Aguanno, Michele Bonneau, and Sandy McBrayer 




Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

Federal Tax ID#46-4993961.

PO Box 150    Masonville, CO  80541


Laura Armstrong, Executive Director   970.690.4221

Silas Binkley, Education Program Manager   970.344.9910