Executive Director & Volunteer Coordinator:
Mary Beth Chismarich, M.D. grew up on a farm near St. Louis, Missouri. She loved doctoring all the livestock on the farm and debated human vs veterinary medicine during her childhood, but eventually her love of children led her to medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She completed her pediatrics residency at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY. After completing residency, she returned to St. Louis and worked at Mercy Hospital in the Pediatric Emergency Department and Pediatric ICU. She then completed a fellowship in Pediatric and Hospice and Palliative Care and started the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at Mercy Hospital. Mary Beth also served as the Medical Director for the Children’s Home Society and as the treasurer for a local non-profit. Shortly after an unexpected early medical retirement, Mary Beth’s husband, Stephen, received a job offer in the Denver area so they packed up their 4 children who were still at home and moved to Parker in May of 2021. Mary Beth began looking for ways to serve her community and keep busy and started volunteering at Praying Hands Ranch. She fell in love from the first day and has been very excited to become more involved in ensuring the mission of PHR continues to expand and thrive. She especially enjoys the days her husband and 4 children living in CO are all on the ranch with her. It is such a rewarding way to spend time together. PHR has been a wonderful way for Mary Beth to combine her farming, medical and non-profit backgrounds and she looks forward to continuing to serve PHR and the local community.
Lisa Uhlig is a professional volunteer. She always loved animals growing up and wanted to be a vet, but allergies prevented that. She became an RN and worked 10 years as a nurse. She then stayed home to raise her kids and began her volunteering career. She started a MOPS group at her church, volunteered in her daughter’s schools, and when her kids were older, she discovered she was outgrowing her allergies. She started raising service dogs for Canine Companions (www.canine.org) She is now on her 10th puppy to raise. Her vet was also a puppy raiser and she jokingly told him she was going to work for him when he opened a new office. That led to her taking dog grooming classes and she groomed for 5 years for him. When her two daughters were grown, she & her husband decided to move to the country! Just 5 minutes from Praying Hands, she finally got her application in to volunteer and she has been here for since 2019. Lisa began as our Volunteer Liaison in February 2022 and has now assumed the role of Volunteer Coordinator in September 2022 working on scheduling, orientation, retention and Social media. She loves working with our clients and our critters and is happy her allergies are not interfering! She is so happy with all the positive changes we’ve been putting into place and is excited to see where things go in the future.
Lead Instructor: Mary Slouka
Mary has been a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) since 1994. She works within the Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) model. This model is an experiential learning approach that promotes the development of life skills for educational, professional and personal goals through equine-assisted activities. Mary has worked with many disabilities through the years. She specializes in the elderly and dementia providing sessions for both individuals and assisted living communities. Through the years, she has continuously seen the value of a horse for therapy. Equine Assisted Therapy with Mary is a fun, laid-back activity where clients become engaged, empowered and enabled and so much more. In addition, Mary has a Horse Powered Reading program for kids 1st through 4th grade. Mary has a BS in Agricultural Business with a concentration in equine sciences. Mary has ridden horses for most of her life and enjoys taking care of her miniature horses, mule and retired jumper.
Jewels Maslin has been a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CRTI) at Praying Hands Ranch since February 2021. Jewels has been riding horses since she was about 9 years old and bought her heart horse, Rosalie, when she was only 11 years old. Jewels has done various different types of riding competitions with her horse Rosalie, such as Western Pleasure and Cow Sorting. She spent time training 2 year old horses and teaching riding lessons during her summers off from school. Jewels received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Gender Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. She has worked as a Behavioral Health Worker at a women’s Intensive Addiction center and Early Childhood Therapist at Firefly Autism, before coming to Praying Hands Ranch. Jewels has a passion for working with individuals with special needs and aspires to help her clients achieve their ambitions at PHR.
Instructor In Training:
Taylor Henderson is our new instructor in training beginning January of 2023! Taylor grew up around horses, and started attending pony camps at her local barn when she was 8. She trained in both English and Western disciplines, and competed with her first horse Keno in multiple dressage competitions. As she got older she developed a strong connection and passion for the western lifestyle. Taylor also has a love of natural horsemanship and uses many techniques from horseman, Pat Parelli. She lives in Franktown with her fiance, where she runs her own farm with her two quarter horses, Ollie and Gunny. She also has two German Shepherds, Yogi Bear and Oso, that always make sure the goats and chickens aren’t causing too much trouble. Taylor graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in History. Taylor is passionate about seeing her students thrive and enjoy all the wonderful things that horses have to offer!
Web and IT Support:
Lynn Hoppe has joined Praying Hands Ranch to provide IT and Web support. Lynn spent 37 years working for the Federal Government working jobs from system administrator, web and application developer, analyst, and more. Lynn retired in 2019 and is doing volunteer web work for PHR and the Elizabeth Stampede. She has already started providing PHR a variety of applications to track volunteer hours, clients, horse usage, and multiple behind the screen applications to provide the front office with tracking tools needed for taxes or for Path Certification and is working on maintaining a new website to provide current information for our customers. Lynn joined PHR on the recommendation of her husband, Glenn, who has been volunteering as a horse walker since 2016.
Sharilyn Hanson grew up on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y. After earning an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts, she worked for United and American Airlines, where she enjoyed meeting and working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Marriage brought her to Toronto, Canada, where before starting her family, Sharilyn was a volunteer, assisting with therapeutic riding lessons and equine assisted therapy sessions. In 1992 Sharilyn and her husband moved their family to Denver, where shortly after arriving they went on their first cattle drive. In 1996 Sharilyn began her career in the HealthCare Industry. She also joined her daughter as a volunteer at Medicine Horse, an equine facility in Boulder which offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and learning sessions. In 2019 Sharilyn retired from the HealthCare Industry and she and her husband moved to Elizabeth to be closer to their grandchildren. When The National Western Stock Show takes place, Sharilyn and her husband are there, helping show their son and daughter in law’s Scottish Highland Cattle. At home, they have two miniature horses and three dogs that keep them busy when they aren’t volunteering or working at Praying Hands Ranch.
Kim Strickland grew up in Orlando, Florida, and always loved working with animals. She worked at a veterinary clinic in high school and volunteered at a pet rescue. She went to the University of Central Florida and earned her bachelors and masters degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She and her husband moved to southern California where she worked as a speech-language pathologist and incorporated animal assisted therapy through the use of a facility dog from Canine Companions. After a few years they moved back to Florida, but they missed the adventures that California offered. Kim opened her own private practice and enjoyed being able to create her own space to continue to practice speech-language pathology. In 2017 they welcomed their first child, Finn, and Kim decided to stay home for the season of life with littles. In 2019 they moved to Colorado for a lifestyle change, and their daughter, Lily, was born in 2020. Kim started volunteering at the ranch in 2021, and immediately fell in love with the clients, horses, and community. Now she, Finn, and Lily enjoy helping with ranch chores on Wednesdays, but they really just like to be there as often as possible.
Special Projects Coordinator: Christine Schrader
Christine grew up in Southern California and moved to Colorado in 2000, drawn by the mountains and a more rural lifestyle. She has had a deep passion for animals since day 1! Her interest in clinical care began when she joined 4-H, then worked as a Vet Tech through high school and a Surgical Technologist for 7 years at St Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, CA. She received a degree in Communications and a minor in Biology Pre-Med from Cal State Univ Northridge. She has been with Children’s Hospital, Colorado for over 15 years, working in Radiology Administration for the last 7 years.
Her 3 “giants;” draft horses Spot, Bailey and Seneca, were invited to make Praying Hands their home, in July 2022, and all 4 of them, couldn’t be more thrilled and honored by the invitation. She is so excited to be a part of this phenomenal team and family. Her role as Special Projects Coordinator is the ideal fit for her dedication to bringing the community to PHR and help make it their home too!
Rounding out our team:
- Ernest - Barn Lead
- Mark - Barn Help
- Ron Hutter - Barn and Custodial Help