Strong and proud: Rancher proves resiliency
07/22/2021

Overcoming hardships

Recently, Shayne, one of the children who calls the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches home, enlisted with the Marines. It was a proud moment for Shayne, his houseparents, and all Ranchers and staff members.

Shayne Rancher by Jason Masters

Photography by Jason Masters

Those proud moments feel great and look great to outsiders. But it takes a lot of work, grit, healing, and hard work to achieve those moments. It takes overcoming trauma, trials, and tough times. Shayne has had his share of those.

About five years ago, Shayne moved from New York City to Arkansas. He lived with his mom and her ex-husband. Unfortunately, the situation was fraught with abuse, and Shayne was placed at the Ranch.

“I was moved to the Ranch, and then I went back home with my mom again. This happened twice. The last time I stayed at the Ranch for good,” Shayne shared.

Responsibility and discipline: Life at the Ranch

Shayne enjoys a more peaceful, safer existence now. He described daily life at the Ranch as going to church on Sunday with his houseparents, waking up and doing chores after breakfast, working part-time at Freddy’s, and relaxing with his fellow Ranchers.

Of course, since Shayne will ship off to the Marines in 10.5 months, he spends plenty of time working on physical fitness, too. He works out on his own time during the week, and he also participates in training with his military recruiter on Saturdays in Searcy.

“I signed up for active duty for a four-year minimum and plan to pick up an infantry MOS contract (military occupational specialty). If I choose to stay in the Marines longer than four years, I may transfer to counter-intelligence. I will fully decide when I get there, though,” he shared.

When asked what motivated him to join the Marines, Shayne shared that he’s always had a general interest in the military.

“About a year and a half ago, I got serious. I thought I might go Army Airborne because Luke, a former Rancher, did that. It inspired me,” he said.

Focusing on his future

He started researching options and discovered the Marine Corps options. The Marines appealed most to Shayne.

“The Marines aren’t just about college benefits. No one goes Marines for that. They’re the first guys in. It’s tough. It’s about more than just me, and I like that,” Shayne stated.

In addition to his physical fitness training, Shayne juggles his part-time job at Freddy’s restaurant. He has been employed with Freddy’s for almost one year. He is currently saving money to purchase his own car and relies on Ranch staff to transport him to and from work.

Shayne looks forward to his future with the Marines but plans to enjoy his senior year, too.

When asked whether he will miss the Ranch, Shayne paused.

“Yeah, I think I will,” he said quietly. “Family doesn’t have to be blood.”

All of us at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches will certainly miss Shayne. We are incredibly proud of his growth and accomplishments.

Please consider supporting the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches today.

Staff spotlight: Errica Pruden, Assistant Program Director
07/14/2021

Celebrating 9 years with the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches

On July 12, 2021, Errica Pruden celebrated nine years with the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches. In May, Errica also earned her Masters of Science degree in Healthcare Administration.

As Errica reflected on her career journey and time at the Ranch, she acknowledged her growth. She is not alone in acknowledging and celebrating that growth either. Her team members recently celebrated her success by throwing a surprise party for her when she graduated in May.

Errica Pruden

“I’m continually looking for ways to improve myself and contribute to the Ranch’s growth, good work, and success,” Errica shares.

Errica’s career journey: The Path to the Ranch

As with most professionals, Errica’s career journey has not always been fulfilling. Errica first felt compelled to work at the Ranch because she was tired of applying for jobs which felt empty.

“I wanted to find a job I could feel good about,” she remembers. “I was tired of working in dead-end jobs.”

She recalls seeing a job posting for her position at the Ranch. After reading it, she felt it was a perfect fit. The job description matched her credentials, but more importantly, it described fulfilling work. And that’s what she was looking for.

Prior to joining the Ranch team, Errica provided in-home care for patients while pursuing her bachelor’s degree. Having been raised in a home fraught with abuse, addiction, and relational turmoil, Errica knew she wanted to pursue a career in social work.

“It was important to me to break the cycle and give back,” she notes.

Giving back: Errica’s contributions to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches

Errica is doing just that by caring for residents at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches on a daily basis. For example, she regularly oversees houseparents, relief houseparents, and residents. The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches provides a place to call home for about 60 children annually. Errica is a core part of the solution to providing better lives for the children at the Ranch, ensuring they have a smooth transition as they apply, go through admissions, and acclimate to the Ranch environment.

In addition, once children become residents, she coordinates appointments for them, prevents and resolves conflicts, and coordinates transportation. Errica manages the admissions process for new Ranchers. Also, Errica serves as case manager for residents and as liaison with the Department of Human Services and Department of Child and Family Services.

As with many nonprofit organizations, Errica’s position requires her to remain agile, flexible, and quick on her feet. She may arrive at work in the morning planning to take a child to a medical appointment, and she discovers she is most needed to help resolve a conflict on campus. Working with children and houseparents necessitates patience, tolerance, and big-picture thinking. Luckily, Errica manages all three traits with ease.

The Ranch is grateful to have Errica on board as a valued team member and looks forward to watching its programs and services grow in the coming years. Thank you for your service, Errica!

Feeling inspired by Errica’s story? If you want to join the Ranch team, now’s your chance! We’re currently seeking to hire houseparents. For more information, contact Philip Ives, COO, at 870-793-6841.

Become a Houseparent
07/08/2021

The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches is looking for loving houseparents with a heart for raising children. We are looking for both full-time and relief houseparents. Our houseparents are the primary caregivers for children who call the Ranch home. Houseparents play a vital role in our mission. They demonstrate how a healthy home functions by serving as healthy, emotionally stable parents, interacting with children, family, and friends.

Some duties include: supervising children, maintaining records, keeping an orderly and clean home, and working cooperatively with Ranch staff and the other families who reside at the Ranch. Our ideal houseparent takes an active role in raising and inspiring children. We want houseparents to involve our Ranch boys and girls in 4H and our educational farm program. We want houseparents to engage children in fun activities that promote growth.

The ASYR is a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year home for children on a nearly 600-acre working ranch. Houseparents live in four large family homes and care for up to eight children in each home. Full-time houseparents are not required to have a second residence; they reside in an apartment in the home. Part-time relief houseparents provide respite for full-time houseparents eight days each month.

One of our houseparents describes her role at the Ranch:

“For us, we don’t look at being houseparent as a job. We just say it’s life. We are all just parents doing the best job we can to raise a houseful of kids. The ASYR is a community of families who live and work together on the Ranch. Being a houseparent takes commitment, sacrifice, vulnerability and a HUGE heart for children.”

To learn more about becoming an ASYR Houseparent or other employment opportunities at the Ranch, contact Philip Ives at 870-793-6841 or email philip@youthranches.com. To apply, fill out our application and submit to philip@youthranches.com.