Miracles at the Oasis
There’s an oasis in northeast Oklahoma that’s changing lives.
Bill and Linda Goldner showcase all of their animals at the Oasis Barn near Disney, Oklahoma. Photo by Phoever Studio/Stacy Gough
Oasis Animal Adventures east of Disney, Oklahoma, is an animal therapy program where Rosie the kangaroo, Omar the lemur, Zola the zebra, and many more animal friends share their love with children and adults, at-risk youth, people with special needs, and girls who were trafficked.
“The beauty of the animals is they accept you just the way you are; it’s unconditional love and they don’t talk back to you; they don’t share your secrets; you can talk to them and nobody else will ever know, so it’s a safe place to be with an animal,” Linda Goldner, Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member, said. “The animal opens up a door and then the student starts talking and it ends up being a healing process for them.”
Goldner, who founded Oasis Animal Adventures with her husband Bill, recalled a young lady who was rescued from human trafficking and connected to one of their horses.
“She later wrote a testimonial saying this horse Angel ‘took me to places in the heart that I thought were forever gone.’”
Oasis Animal Adventures is certified as Equine Assisted Learning through O.K. Corral Series, by EAGALA founder Greg Kersten, and partners with programs in the area.
“Under the direction of their licensed clinical therapist, the students are paired with an animal and taught the value of care and responsibility that comes with another living thing,” Michael Lokey, executive director of Teen Challenge of Oklahoma Adolescent Centers, said. “The results that we are getting with the partnership have been a valued part of our overall program. We have seen major growth and breakthrough because of their weekly sessions at Oasis with animal therapy.”
A student named Anthony wrote, “Animal therapy has been my favorite part of the school week since the beginning of my program. I have never been around horses and was pretty nervous around them. When I got a mustang named Sierra as my animal it was one of the coolest things ever. Hanging out and working with her has taught me about discipline, loyalty, trust, and respect.”
Michelle Stockton, director for 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Jay Public Schools, said she has many stories about how students love and learn about the animals, but one story of a physically handicapped girl stands out. This young girl has friends, but is not always able to join in due to her disability.
“All that changed when she went on the field trip to the Oasis barn. She was able to participate with the horses, just like everyone else. At the Oasis barn, she was like everyone else, no different than her friends. She was a part of every activity and by the smile on her face she loved every minute of it,” Stockton said.
A student jumps with a mini horse during a J Club Field Trip at the Oasis Barn | Photo by Jennifer Goldner Daftari
The Goldners began sharing their animals with the community through their Picture in Scripture Amphitheater, where they present biblical productions during the summer. This year from June 28 to Aug. 3, people can see “Damascus Road: Where Saul becomes Paul, The Greatest Apostle of All Time.”
The Goldners’ animal family began with camels, donkeys, horses and mini horses. Someone suggested they begin an animal therapy program, and they received a call from someone looking for a place where their clients could go and pet animals.
“It’s the door the Lord opened up. He started planting the seeds for working with animals,” Goldner said.
Sara Rice, a program coordinator assistant with the Delaware County Friendship Homes/Home of Hope, said the animal therapy teaches job skills, valuable social interactive skills, and best of all it gives the participants a confidence boost.
“Linda has no problem letting her animals and our people interact. She doesn’t let their diagnosis hold them back and she loves on all of them as if they were hers. It is heartwarming,” Rice said.
The animal family now includes a baby kangaroo, a red tail lemur, a zebra, a Scottish highlander, two North African Sulcata tortoises, a Yak and a dog.
Oasis Animals hosts many field trips and their motto is “Gateway to the Heart.”
“That’s what animals are. They let the kids love on them and then we take it to a new level and we deal with things such as boundaries and relationships,” Goldner said.
Goldner has written a children’s book about one of the animals, “Rosie the Kangaroo.” It’s the first book from “Tails from the Oasis.” The second book will be about Omar the lemur.
Goldner hopes to progress into working with families.
“There’s so much you can learn from the animals and family dynamics,” she said.
Bill and Linda Goldner | Photo by Phoever Studio/Stacy Gough