Each month we take a moment to recognize one of our members who’s made an impact in our beloved community.

For this month’s Member Spotlight, we’re focusing on Larry McDaniel, MSW, LCSW, who is the founder and former CEO of Coyote Hill Children’s Home. Larry is a valuable member of our community and uses the Natural Lifemanship approach to assist in his therapy and equine programs.

Learn more about Larry’s career in providing children with secure homes and his journey with Natural Lifemanship.

Keeping Kids Safe

Aware of a serious need for foster homes in Missouri that nurture a loving and safe environment, Larry and his late wife Cathy founded Coyote Hill in 1991. The organization started by caring for one child in a single home and quickly grew from there.

They now have a campus on 300 beautiful acres in central Missouri, called The Hill, that features six large foster family homes and a duplex. This is where they host their Equine Program.

Children are twice as likely to live with their siblings at The Hill compared to traditional foster homes and the organization boasts a 98 percent retention rate with foster families.

Coyote Hill has offices throughout Missouri in Columbia, Jefferson City, Moberly, and Hannibal. They’ve licensed over 200 foster homes in the last three years and provided safe homes to over 1,000 children.

Larry stepped down as the CEO of Coyote Hill a couple of years ago to focus more on the Equine Program.

Finding NL

Larry found Natural Lifemanship while researching ways to improve his Equine Program at Coyote Hill. He had previously trained with other EAP organizations but felt the need for something more.

He found friends and a community from his very first NL training, but it took time to fully embrace the Natural Lifemanship approach. Being used to traditional programs and techniques, while also possessing a task-oriented personality, Larry had difficulty getting into a rhythm early on.

“The NL approach isn’t about techniques, it’s about connection. I didn’t think I signed up for that, but in the end, it turned out to be the right thing,” Larry said.

It’s very common and natural for NL practitioners to face difficulty and uncertainty at some point in their NL journey. We are asking you to think very differently about your work and the way you engage with clients, horses and yourself. Larry knew if he stuck with it, he’d find tremendous value.

By letting go of his expectations of a traditional approach, Larry was able to thrive as a Natural Lifemanship practitioner. He’d ended up taking the Wild Horse Sanctuary – Relationship Logic Immersion training, which is still his favorite NL training to this day.

“I loved everything about it … the camaraderie, the camping, the mustangs, the hosts, the fireside chats, the cowboy poetry, and especially the food prepared at the campsite,” Larry said. “When I think of this training, it always brings a smile to my face.”

Since joining Natural Lifemanship, Larry has been proactive about sending other staff and therapists to the trainings he learned the most from. He’s seen a big difference in the way the children in his care are now able to embrace the concepts of trust, safety, and healthy relationships through their friendship with horses.

Larry’s Advice: Keep Going

Larry did not fit in at his initial NL trainings, to the point where he considered quitting in the middle of one training. He struggled with group activities and forming deep, personal connections with others.

Despite his early struggles, he kept at it and pursued an NL certification.  He also contributed to an NL blog post in 2020 titled We Need So Much more than Words.   His persistence was rewarded when he found Tim Jobe as a consultant for his certification journey. They formed a deep friendship and Tim was a great entry point into the NL way as someone who had personal experience working with youth in the foster care system.

While Larry still wouldn’t describe real connection as something that comes naturally to him, he’s recognized that he’s grown immensely in that area through NL’s trainings.

“I have learned that I can grow in the area of appreciating and actually pursuing meaningful connection to others and horses, and have found that connection to be valuable and something that has improved my work with others, and also improved my life in general,” he said. “Don’t beat yourself up because you are task-oriented or mission-minded. People like you built this world. But I believe the people who are best at managing it going forward, are those who understand the importance of sincere connection without agenda or expectation. It is a valuable skill to learn and grow in, and NL is a wonderful place to do that.”

We’re so proud of all Larry has accomplished and grateful to have him as a valued member of our NL community. We look forward to seeing him continue to impact the lives of those in his own community.