Spring brings hope in the midst of COVID-19 at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch

It’s officially springtime at the Ranch! Children are playing in the yards and fishing at the pond. Shouts of joy ring out. Green leaves, bright buttercups, and pink roses bask in the sunshine.

But while the Ranch appears beautiful, the Ranch staff remain aware of the serious health crisis we are living through. We’re keeping the Ranch running during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are challenging times for all of us.

The children who call the Ranch home have already lived through their own trauma, child abuse, abandonment, and separation from their biological parents. Now they’re experiencing more uncertainty regarding the future. Along with other children in the world, they are isolated from friends and must complete school remotely. We are very proud of our Ranchers’ resiliency.

We’re providing these boys and girls with critical emotional support, coaching them through completing school work at home on the Ranch campus, and allowing them to get their energy out through plenty of outdoor play time.

Immediate needs at the Ranch during COVID-19

We truly need your help and financial support more than ever. As an organization that relies on charitable gifts to operate, we cannot make it through this pandemic without you.

Each house is practicing social distancing. Houseparents work around the clock to keep children fed, healthy, safe, loved, and calm. With children at home more often, we have increased house budgets temporarily. This will allow us to provide additional:

  • meals, snacks, and drinks
  • sports and fishing equipment
  • hygiene items
  • cleaning supplies
  • games and activities
  • personal care items
  • books

Can you help meet these immediate needs by making a gift today? With your generous financial support will make it through this time of uncertainty together.

The bright side: Spring highlights at the Ranch

Even during trying times, we continue to help children find hope in daily life at the Ranch. Here are some spring highlights and wonderful moments at the Ranch.

  • 8 Ranch supporters pitched in to raise $600 in 48 hours to provide Easter baskets and pizza parties.
  • One of our Ranchers, living in our transitional living home, turns 21 in June. He recently bought his own vehicle and works full-time. We’re very proud of his responsible choices.
  • The Ranch added 30 adorable baby calves to our cattle program this spring.
  • A local photographer donated her talent to take beautiful pictures of our graduating senior.
  • 6 of our Ranch boys and girls caught a fish for the very first time!

These moments of growth would not be possible without friends like you! This spring, and always, we are grateful for your help as we build better lives for the children who call the Ranch home.

When you give to the Ranch, you build hope. You change lives.

ASYR Staff spotlight: Kirsten Harvey

Each staff member at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches (ASYR) makes a big impact on the children  who call the Ranch home. Kirsten Harvey, Transportation Coordinator and Receptionist, is no exception. Kirsten began working at the Ranch on February 3, 2020.

Kirsten Harvey Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches ASYRAbout Kirsten

Before joining the Ranch staff, Kirsten worked at Sherwood Urgent Care for over two years as a medical assistant. Prior to that, she worked at a pharmacy as a pharmacy tech. These positions not only helped her build experience in billing and administrative skills. They also helped her become a customer service expert. She gained understanding in how to maneuver difficult conversations and interactions, too.

In addition to her experience in the medical field, Kirsten has worked directly with children. She worked in childcare settings for three years. Working behind the scenes to help children who call the Ranch home feels fulfilling to Kirsten.

“Several factors influenced me to accept this position. I desired the opportunity to expand my skills and knowledge in a different atmosphere. The location of the ranch is close to home. Finally, after completing my interview, I felt this was the position best suited to my future goals,” Kirsten shares.

What Kirsten does at the Ranch

At the Ranch, Kirsten wears multiple hats, as do all Ranch staff members. She corresponds regularly with the Department of Transportation and maintains proper documentation for Ranch vehicles and drivers. Kirsten enters data, processes mail, and helps maintain the donor database. In addition, she communicates regularly via phone and email with donors, community members, houseparents, and others who have questions and needs.

Emily Ives, Business Manager at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches, serves as Kirsten’s manager and collaborates with her on a daily basis.

“Kirsten is a ‘Get It Done’ type of woman. When she starts a project, she makes sure everything is done correctly and in a timely manner. She also anticipates things we need to do which I really appreciate.  She is a pleasure to work with and helps me keep my head on straight,” Emily dotes.

Kirsten shared that she “loves it here at the Ranch! It truly is a blessing being able to come to work everyday doing something you love to do. Working with great people is my favorite part. Everyone is positive, encouraging, and love what they do.”

Kirsten’s dream for children at the Ranch

When asked what one additional gift she would like to give to the children at the Ranch, she paused.

“The Ranch provides the children who live here with everything they need. But if I could wish anything, it would be that the children here had home lives that would have prevented them from having to come live at the Ranch in the first place,” she reflects.

Kirsten’s caring heart is what makes her such a perfect fit for the Ranch.

The next time you call the Ranch, maybe your interaction with Kirsten will be a little sweeter knowing more about the person behind the voice on the phone.

Thank you for your continued support in ensuring that children at the Ranch have safe, secure, loving homes. To donate to the Ranch today, click here.


This article is the first in a series of staff spotlights featuring staff members and describing the roles they play here. 

ASYR hosts virtual spring art sale

The history of art: How ASYR acquired collections

Big Orange Daisy by Lynn Donoghue

Big Orange Daisy by Lynn Donoghue

What pairs better with spring time than beautiful, bright flowers and plants? We thought this, too, when opening a box of lovely botanical prints donated by longtime Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches’ board member, Brent Stevenson. Stevenson currently serves as Board Secretary/Treasurer.

Pamela Stagg

Dwarf Amaryllis, Pamela Stagg

Stevenson donated several amazing collections of prints to the Ranch in 2014. The Ranch staff recently identified a large print to frame and display above the fireplace mantel in the newly renovated lodge next to the administration building. Wedding parties, organizations, and corporations will be able to rent the lodge with all proceeds supporting the Ranch. With the exception of a few pieces framed on campus, the Ranch will sell the remaining artwork to support the children who call the Ranch home.

About the artwork, artists, and auction

The first collection we unwrapped of numbered, original prints, features three renowned female artists: Pamela Stagg, Lynn Donoghue, and Adriene Veninger. All three artists gained reputations for featuring natural landscapes and botanicals in their paintings and photography. Veninger’s “Flora and Fauna” collection has been displayed at the National Gallery of Canada since 2012.

We are hosting a 10-day art auction on eBay to raise funds for the Ranch. The botanical prints collection, featuring works by Donaghue, Stagg, and Veninger, is listed until April 26, 2020. These exclusive numbered, original prints from three renowned artists have appraised for $150 to $285 each. We priced pieces to move quickly. We hope you will purchase artwork from these three botanical print collections in celebration of spring and Mother’s Day.

Floral #2 by Adriene Veninger

Floral #2, Adriene Veninger

Stay tuned for more virtual art sales in months ahead from the ASYR. Please share this article and our eBay auction site link with art connoisseurs you know.

We hope you are doing well as we move forward into warmer, brighter days together.

From all of us at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches,

Thank you for your continued support.

Capturing one Rancher’s beauty: Local photographer highlights senior year

Alexis* twisted one long braid, silently perched atop a chair in the lobby of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches’ administration building. She bit her lower lip and sighed.

“Are you excited about getting senior pictures made?” A staff member asked.

She nodded slowly. She fidgeted with a scarf she held, fraying its edges between her fingers.rabbit Harmony Brookshire photography

“I just brought this because I think it looks like something you wear for senior pictures. I don’t wear this in real life,” she admitted.

Her shoulders relaxed when a minivan arrived a few moments later, a tall, slender woman sporting a large camera case, walking confidently toward the door.

“Are you Alexis? I’m Harmony, your photographer. Are you ready?” Harmony extended her hand and smiled. Alexis returned the smile and followed Harmony, waving at us as she wandered off toward the barn to find her favorite bunny to feature in her senior pictures.

Ranch-raised students

Alexis, like many Ranchers—children who call the Ranch home—came to live at the Ranch years ago. After living in traditional foster care, Alexis and her siblings arrived at the Ranch apprehensive about the future and uncertain about their surroundings. After months of stability, support, and therapeutic foster care, Alexis began to relax. She built relationships with staff and her fellow Ranchers and even enjoyed herself. Over the years, the Ranch became more than a place to live. It became home.

The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches provides family-style foster care to about 60 children per year on its nearly 600-acre campus near Batesville, Arkansas. The children who call the Ranch home stay for varying lengths of time depending on their needs and whether they find forever homes. For those who stay at the Ranch for many years, the Ranch becomes an incredibly loving, secure haven.

The Ranch staff work hard to provide for the children’s needs and wants. Staff provide program services and transportation, collaborate with community partners, seek donations, and recruit volunteers. The Ranch’s Assistant Program Director, Errica Pruden, recently sought a local photographer to donate a special on-site senior photography session for Alexis. Within hours of posting the request, Harmony Brookshire of Brookshire Photography offered to help.

Harmony Brookshire: Making clients feel special

Harmony divulged that she loves talking to senior high school students, asking them what kind of look they are wanting and going for.

“I ask them about their interests/hobbies to see if they want to incorporate those things in their photos because this is for them! I love images taken outside in beautiful, natural light,” Harmony explains.Brookshire Photography Harmony Brookshire

Harmony tries to shoot senior photo sessions in locations they love or think would be fun. She looks for locations which might match the client’s personality. Simple and classic poses, designed to generate feelings of confidence and comfort in front of the camera, are Harmony’s favorite.

“When clients feel confident, photographers get genuine, beautiful smiles. I want their experience with me, as the photographer, to be one they remember as being fun and comfortable,” she adds.

Harmony began her photography business two years ago. What began as a real estate photography business quickly expanded into portrait sessions and other aspects of photography.

“Now I love photographing families, newborns, couples, weddings, seniors, while still assisting real estate agents. The variety keeps me on my toes and allows me to be creative. I meet so many amazing people I would never interact with otherwise,” Harmony shares.

More than photography: Using her gift to serve

Harmony and Michael Brookshire

Harmony Brookshire & family, 2019

Harmony enjoys using her gift of photography to serve others. She volunteers as a photographer periodically for her church, Fellowship Bible Church of Batesville. As a former teacher, Harmony has always had a soft spot in her heart for children—especially children in foster care—so she jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.

“I really wanted to show Alexis how special, beautiful, and loved she is. And if that was something I could do by taking photos, I was in,” Harmony says.

In addition to managing her photography business, Harmony invests her time in her family as a mother of four boys. She and her husband, Michael, celebrate 14 years of marriage in May. Harmony and her family love being part of the Batesville community. We at the Ranch believe the Batesville community is lucky the Brookshire family is part of it, too.


Are you an expert in your field or industry? Do you have a talent or skill you’re willing to share with Ranchers or a product you can donate through your business? Let’s talk about how you can volunteer, get involved, or give to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches today.

*Alexis’ name and personal details have been changed to protect her identity.