Impossible to Forget: The Enduring Legacy of The Rosses

July 6, 2022

The legacy of founders Dr. Samuel ‘Rollo’ Ross and his wife Myra is as alive as ever at Green Chimneys and beyond, in the wider community of human-animal services. As mentors, teachers, colleagues and friends, the Rosses were a power couple and left enduring impressions across the globe, as influencers who shaped and impacted a professional field.

For decades, Green Chimneys has been a destination for professionals who believe that bringing people closer to animals and nature is a meaningful approach to human wellness. Where else can students with special needs ride horses, learn to fly a Harris hawk, train a shelter dog or harvest maple syrup, while attending school and learning to overcome their challenges?

Phil Tedeschi, Clinical Professor and Director Emeritus at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection of the Denver University Graduate School of Social Work, recalls:

“Sam’s resolute certainty that exposure to animals could help children, reassured and echoed my own sentiment and observations. It was instrumental in my own commitment to getting the therapists that I was supervising out from behind their desks, unplugging the phone, and establishing genuine opportunities for children to encounter the many impactful ways animals can transform lives.”

Elizabeth Ormerod DVM, the current United Kingdom Veterinarian of the Year and a board member of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations, worked with Dr. Ross for decades.

“Sam Ross made a deep and lasting impact on me, he exuded warmth and wisdom, and truly cared about everyone. What would the world be like if we were all as wise, kind, and accomplished as Sam Ross?”

Former farm intern Andrea Makrandreou MD writes:

“Rollo and his wife Myra’s love for the children and animals was tangible everywhere at Green Chimneys, and that’s what makes it such a great place. They built a whole village for children to feel safe, to grow, to heal, to overcome their difficulties and to develop tools to face future challenges.”

Like so many, Esther Delisle, founder of the Canadian Institute for Animal-Assisted Therapy became a lifelong friend of Sam and Myra. As they aged, she would send them greeting cards on all the holidays.

“The last time I met both of them was at the Human-Animal Interaction Conference held at Green Chimneys in 2017. When I hugged them for the last time they repeated the familiar sentence about my cards: “You never forget us.” To which I replied, “How could I?”

Honoring the Rosses’ Legacy

Today the Sam and Myra Ross Institute carries on their work—and their legacy—by nurturing professional relationships in the expanding fields of Nature-Based Services via education, advocacy and research. Dive into our latest published research 

Supporting the Future of HAI

Rollo and Myra believed in the importance of hands-on learning, not only for students but for those starting careers in education, social work, and nature-based program management. For several decades, the Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Global Internship program at Green Chimneys has provided opportunities to individuals establishing a career in human-animal interaction (HAI). Several tracks allow interns to focus on an area of interest, from equines to farm animals to gardening, and more. Interns gain valuable experience working with children and animals in a school and residential setting. And thanks to the continued and generous support of the Leir Foundation, we continue to honor the Rosses’ intention of nurturing future generations of HAI innovators, practitioners, and advocates. Learn more

PHOTO: Miyako Kinoshita, Farm Program Education Manager (second row, far right), and Michael Kaufmann, Director of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute (third row, left), lead the Leir intern experience. With support from expert staff, interns benefit from interactive trainings, HAI topic-driven discussions, and career guidance.