Buffalo adventures for community based day services in Perham


A small and outgoing disability services location for Productive Alternatives (PA) took some initiative during park visits to a nearby town, and entered local history by naming a baby buffalo. All they had to do was ask.

The place is Sunnybrook Park in Wadena, 22 miles from PA's Perham location, which serves 40 individuals with life enrichment and employment services utilizing a staff of 20.

A group was visiting Sunnybrook weekly, where they observed a growing baby buffalo born in spring or summer, explains Perham Program Manager Heather Meyer. Individuals noticed name signs for the parents of the new addition but not for the baby.  

Park employees asked the group to come up with a name, and they gathered to suggest options and vote, Meyer explains. They picked "Sadie," and made a name plate for the new arrival.

Productive Alternatives clients are still using cohort groups. Each makes a plan for the week by sharing ideas and deciding on several, said Meyer. "They're learning new things, meeting new people and expanding their horizons," she said. People develop close friendships, as well.

"Everybody loves music and animals," said Meyer. Clients also visit a zoo in Vergas and track the growth of baby animals there, as well. Some are familiar with hunting and watch animal horns grow on repeat visits.

Groups from Perham often travel to other small towns in the area in about a 30-mile radius to take tours. They explore parks, visit libraries and more, said Meyer. A few seldom explore areas outside of Perham, so PA gives them that option.

The activities are part of community based day services offered by Productive Alternatives. Some of the clients use these, as well as employment services, while others choose one or the other, said Meyer, who has served this location for some 27 years.