SALISBURY, N.C. – Students in the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program worked with campers at Wings of Eagles Ranch in Concord this summer as part of a clinical fieldwork rotation. The nonprofit ranch’s Adventure II camp serves children and teens with special needs, as well as typically developing campers.

OTA student helping child walk across rope bridgeStudents assisted campers with activities such as horseback riding, ziplining, canoeing, climbing, and arts and crafts. As camp counselors, they were paired one-on-one with campers with a variety of special needs, including autism, cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

“Having the Rowan-Cabarrus OTA students here was beneficial to both the campers and the Ranch. We rely solely on volunteers to support our summer camps,” said Christine Cronin, founder and executive director of Wings of Eagles. “For the students, the camp provided the opportunity to work with a variety of medical issues.”

The students were able to apply the information and skills learned in the classroom to this non-traditional fieldwork experience assisting individuals with an array of disabilities, and some said they were inspired to continue volunteering at Wings of Eagles and similar community settings.

“My favorite part was education and training in therapeutic horseback riding, as well as the high ropes,” said student Crystal McNeely. “Watching the children overcome obstacles that scared them, or they lacked confidence in, was very rewarding.”

Classmate Amber Auayang agreed: “It gave me new ideas about what children are capable of when they have those who are willing to make it possible.”

OTA students participating in the camp experience along with McNeely and Auayang were Dana Barnhardt, Anna Humphrey, Rachael Jordan, Ashlynn McDonald, Catherine Neblett and Ashley Purser.

Rowan-Cabarrus and Wings of Eagles hope to continue the partnership to offer more opportunities for students to perform fieldwork with the non-profit agency. Students typically engage in fieldwork in a variety of community settings, including traditional sites such as outpatient clinics, home health, acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities, independent living centers and schools, and non-traditional sites such as pediatric day camps, programs for individuals who are homeless, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, specialty schools, day programs for older adults, and programs for individuals with brain injury.

“We are excited to begin what we hope will be a lasting partnership between the College and Wings of Eagles, giving our students a chance to gain valuable skills and the campers an opportunity to benefit from one-on-one care and assistance,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

For more information about Wings of Eagles Ranch, please visit