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Hollywood animal trainer lauds Del Oro teacher

1986 grad says instructor gave him life skills
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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A Hollywood animal trainer credits a Del Oro High School teacher with giving him skills that have spelled success. Hayden Rosenaur, who graduated in 1986, wrote a letter to retired Del Oro industrial arts teacher Jack Pchelkin thanking him for teaching vocational skills that he uses daily in his career. Rosenaur owns 165-acre Serengeti Ranch, in Southern California, where he lives with his veterinarian wife, Stephanie, and their daughter, Aria, 8. More than 100 animals – including stars from motion pictures, and television commercials and shows – share the ranch. Rufus, the pelican featured in the new movie “Dolphin Tale,” belongs to Rosenaur. Rosenaur also owns and trains two African elephants, an orphaned white rhinoceros, a tiger, a leopard, a wildcat from Africa called a caracal, a deer, six pelicans, four capuchin monkeys and lots of dogs and cats. Rosenaur said he was prompted to write the letter to Pchelkin after recently teaching one of his ranch hands how to weld. “The guy was excited about learning and it reminded me of being 15 and learning at Del Oro. I even heard myself repeating Mr. Pchelkin's words, ‘Measure twice, cut once.’” In his letter to Pchelkin, Rosenaur said the skills gleaned from his classes have “allowed me to build my own home, construct my own barns and build my own fences, but most of all, to be self sufficient.” Rosenaur said he struggled as a high school student, and later in life realized he had “a case of undiagnosed A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder).” He wrote, “I believed that I was stupid and couldn’t understand why I had to work so much harder than everyone. I found myself in a constant struggle just to understand simple math equations and other basic academics.” But Rosenaur said he found success in Pchelkin’s classes and he gained self esteem. He said from what he learned, he can now “repair my own tractors; do my own electrical, and plumbing, as well as mending and building my own fences.” Jack Pchelkin taught at Del Oro for 36 years and created the agriculture program and taught small engine, welding and welding fabrication. He retired in 2010. Pchelkin said he was “touched” by Rosenhaur’s letter. “Most people don’t go back and tell their old teachers ‘Thank you,’ and very few take the time to write a letter,” he said. Pchelkin said he remembers Rosenaur. “He was a good kid. He hung around the shop and would help wherever he was needed,” he said. “He is a poster child of why we teach those classes and the things you can do with what you’ve learned,” Pchelkin said. Pchelkin said his classes leveled the playing field between academic students and those who struggled. “A lot of what I taught was brand new to all of them. A kid who’s never done any of it is in the same boat as the one who hasn’t had success in the classroom,” he said. Pchelkin credits the district and Del Oro administrators for supporting the career tech classes. “Those classes teach life skills,” he said. Rosenaur’s brother Craig, attended Del Oro and now owns Auburn Equestrian Center, in Auburn. He has also been an owner/builder in the construction trade. He said his parents moved to Loomis in 1980 and had a llama ranch and both brothers worked on it. The boys attended Placer Elementary School at the time. Craig Rosenaur said he also took industrial arts and ag classes at Del Oro and was an aide in Pchelkin’s class. He said the classes were “a confidence builder that allowed us to be successful in other areas.” He said his brother has “utterly amazing talents with animals” and began training animals when he worked for an Auburn couple who owned performing chimpanzees. “They introduced Hayden to the career,” Craig Rosenaur said.