“I still have no idea how we convinced Laura to come work for NL over 8 years ago! She is absolutely brilliant, can do just about anything, and has challenged me in many ways both personally and professionally. Customer service is of utmost importance to her – she has gone to bat for our students and customers in powerful ways, and is always seeking to improve the customer journey with NL. Laura has also been a much needed support on my faith journey in profound and life-changing ways. She was instrumental in the development of the NL for Spiritual Connection training – a training I am so proud for NL to offer to our community. I simply cannot imagine NL or my life without her.”
– Bettina Shultz-Jobe, NL Co-Founder and CEO
Each month we take a moment to recognize someone who’s made a profound impact on our beloved community. In the past, we’ve featured some incredible NL members,
but we’re excited to introduce you to our first team member spotlight, featuring our Chief Operating Officer, Laura McFarland.
Laura is a passionate and dedicated leader with an extraordinary journey intertwined with Natural Lifemanship. For over eight years, Laura has been an integral part of the NL Team, fostering healing and connection through our trainings and membership community.
Learn more about Laura’s journey with Natural Lifemanship and the remarkable way NL has become an extended family to her.
A Fateful Encounter
Laura met Tim and Bettina back in August 2010. At that time, Laura was midway through a doctoral program in Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She had taken a course in the School of Social Work and that course opened her eyes to community-based programs targeting at-risk youth and delinquents. This sparked a desire in her to make a tangible impact in her community.
Since childhood, Laura has always loved horses, and her admiration for equine-assisted psychotherapy was kindled by a family friend who incorporated horses into her therapeutic work. Driven by curiosity and a desire to contribute, she set out to volunteer at a local community-based organization offering Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).
Laura ended up connecting with Spirit Reins in Liberty Hill, Texas, and started working with them during the summer of 2010. In August of that same year, she met Tim and Bettina when they came to Spirit Reins to do their first training together as a married couple.
Laura was so deeply moved by her training experience that she continued volunteering with Spirit Reins while also doing some writing with Tim and Bettina as she finished her studies. That is where her journey with NL began and she was officially hired as part of the NL Team in 2015.
The Rewards and Challenges of NL
For Laura, working with and for Natural Lifemanship is incredibly rewarding, and also challenging. She considers the NL Team as an extended family and the biggest reward in her work is being a part of our community. She really treasures the relationships she has formed through her work with NL. According to Laura:
“I love each of my fellow team members, our amazing trainers, our awesome community, and the many connections I’ve made through our organization. Professionally, I find it very rewarding to witness the healing and transformation that our students experience as they journey and grow with us.”
Laura also added that, as with any endeavor characterized by profound intentionality and care, it’s inevitable to face some challenges. The NL team is constantly evaluating and reevaluating their practices and working on improving their methods. This ongoing process, particularly in the realm of creating effective and meaningful online learning experiences, presents inherent challenges.
Nonetheless, these challenges are met head-on, and NL remains committed to its mission and to the team that supports it. For Laura, the sense of fulfillment that comes from being part of a community that promotes healing, transformation, and connection is immeasurable.
Laura’s Insights about NL
We asked Laura a few questions about Natural Lifemanship and her insights about it as part of NL Team. Here’s what she had to say.
NL: What do you wish everyone in our industry knew about Natural Lifemanship?
Laura: “One thing I wish everyone in our industry knew about NL is that what we teach, model, and aim to achieve is a way of being in the world, and that this way of being is cultivated each and every day through our relationships. We are journeying together to promote healing, transformation, and connection in ourselves and others. That’s why I love our new tagline, walk with us – because we are all walking, as well!”
NL: What are you looking forward to as a member of the team?
Laura: “Right now I’m looking forward to our conference! By the time anyone is reading this, it will probably have already occurred. I love our conferences because I love our community and because most of the time I am working at a desk. Our team puts A LOT of energy and love into planning and preparing for these events and it is so rewarding to experience what happens when our community arrives and we spend a few days together. It feeds my soul!”
NL: If you were going to give advice to anyone who hasn’t heard of NL to tell them why NL is so useful and meaningful, what would you tell them?
Laura: “That’s a great question. It depends who is asking and what they’re looking for. If someone is already working in the field of Equines Assisted Services, I definitely recommend checking us out because what defines EAS is relationship (the partnering of horses and humans). For folks who are not in the EAS field, these principles are relevant to them as well. We work a lot with teachers and others who never incorporate horses into their work. We offer a whole new perspective and lens for understanding the human relationships we each experience in our professional and our personal lives. Really, I think we’re relevant to just about anyone! But I’m not biased :)“
Our team is stronger, more capable and more fun because Laura is an integral part of it. We would not be able to do what we do without her leadership, love and expertise. Thank you, Laura, for all that you do!
If you are interested in joining our membership community, we would love to welcome you! Learn more at www.naturallifemanship.com/memberships.