DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– A young man with special needs has always felt misunderstood in life, but not when it came to working with animals. Now, he’s on a mission to increase inclusivity when it comes to having adults with disabilities in the workforce. 

After working nearly three years with Greene County’s Saved by Grace Horse Ranch, 29-year-old Ryan Baldwin says the farm animals have taught him more about communication than ever before.

“The key is watching their body language,” said Baldwin. “If you read the animal’s body, you can see if they are calm, scared, stressed, mad and happy and you can go from there. They’re like us, they also need personal space sometimes.”

Saved by Grace Owners Craig and Joy Polydoros bought the ranch in 2020 and needed a few more hands on the property. They met the Baldwin Family through church and quickly became connected. Joy says that Ryan was scared of the horses initially, but seeing him grow has been the experience of a lifetime.

“He could be standoffish when it came to people but he’s really grown in that department though because he’s so much better and relaxed around people only if there are animals here,” said Joy Polydoros.

However, Ryan’s growth around animals wasn’t a surprise to his mother Heather.

“He has always been interested in animals,” said Heather. “When he went into kindergarten, he couldn’t tell you facial features or things on his body but he could point out eagles and owls. Even from that young age at five-years-old, he wanted to be with animals.”

Saved by Grace has partnered with the Dayton Autism Society, proving people with disabilities aren’t defined by them.

“Give them a chance, they have the heart and want to work,” said Polydoros. “I encourage business owners to try to form the job around their capabilities and set them up to excel because they can do it.”

All are welcome at the Saved by Grace Ranch, so come work with Ryan and other young adults because their days on the ranch aren’t ending anytime soon.

Saved by Grace participates in the Dayton Children’s Parade every Christmas! You’ll have an opportunity to meet horses like Thunder and Ruby in the upcoming 2023 parade. Plus, the ranch is open to host events year-round. 

For more information and to begin volunteering on the ranch, click here!