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Strong and proud: Rancher proves resiliency

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.

About @YouthRanches

The Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches provide a loving, safe place to call home for children across Arkansas. Founded in 1976 by Arkansas sheriffs, the Ranches serve approximately 60 foster children annually.