Ranch Show Team beefs up confidence

A small cheering section eagerly watched a group of Ranchers at the Independence County Fair as they sternly yet gently guided animals through the show barn. Ranch houseparents,  staff members, board member Tyler Griffin and his wife Monica, and Batesville School District administrators patiently awaited the Ranchers’ turns to show lambs. Shirts tucked in, belt buckles shining, and boots polished, the children and teens understood the serious nature of the occasion.

sheep lamb show team ASYRThere’s a big difference between a show barn at the fair and the barn at the Ranch where the Ranchers care for the animals daily in muck boots and ball caps. These Ranchers had invested hours in their animals and in themselves; it showed.

Show season preparation

The Ranchers began preparing for show season months prior, breeding rabbits and caring for sheep all year long. The Ranchers currently only show two types of animals: Holland Lops rabbits and market lambs. Under the supervision of Chief Operations Officer, Philip Ives, the Ranchers who choose to join Show Team must participate in daily care of the animals. Daily care includes grooming, feeding, and exercising them. In addition, they must clean stalls and change rabbit pens.

This isn’t easy or enjoyable work, but through hands-on involvement in maintaining and preparing animals for show season, Ranchers gain life skills and soft skills which transfer to the workplace. The Ranchers acquire a greater sense of responsibility through caring for their own animals day after day. They learn to collaborate well with other members of the show team. Ranchers also become more humble and able to accept constructive criticism from staff and fair judges. Other life skills and soft skills gained include public speaking and presentation skills, time management, punctuality, animal husbandry, communication skills (verbal and nonverbal), and work ethic. Also, the Ranchers gain pride, confidence, intrinsic motivation, and physical strength.

Show season results

The life skills and soft skills gained through Ranch Show Team participation can ward off depression, anxiety, and boredom. Some Ranchers who struggled with these symptoms during the COVID pandemic expressed a greater sense of purpose, self-worth, and accomplishment at the end of show season. Struggling children and teens specifically cited Show Team participation as the reason for their improved outlook. This finding is not unique to Ranchers’ experience. Many hobbies, team projects, and group activities can improve physical health, lower stress levels, and lower levels of anxiety and depression. 

Ranchers don’t just participate in the local Independence County Fair in June. They are also currently preparing for district fair in Melbourne in September and for state fair in Little Rock in October. The Ranch Show Team is currently gearing up for the continued show season and looks forward to district and state fair opportunities to share their hard work with others.

How can you help?

The average total cost per animal for show season is $1000. If you want to support the Ranch Show Team, you can make a financial contribution to offset costs of feed, transportation to fairs, show supplies, entry fees, animal purchasing, vet costs, medication, and show wear for Ranchers. We are incredibly grateful for your support in helping build Ranchers’ confidence and skills through the Ranch Show Team.

For more information about the Ranch Show Team or to find out which items the Show Team currently needs, please contact COO Philip Ives at 870-793-6841.



Summer enrichment program at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches

Philip Ives, Chief Operations Officer, recently reflected on 2020. Like all children, the children who call the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches home experienced some tough times throughout the pandemic. As a result, Ives committed to making the summer of 2021 extra special for Ranchers. He felt Ranchers deserved a fun-filled, adventure-packed summer full of learning opportunities. With the support of Ranch staff, he set out to create a fresh Summer Enrichment Program.

“We’ve already begun teaching life skills to Ranchers. Designing a true Summer Enrichment Program is one more way to ensure the kids stay busy, active, and engaged this summer,” Philip shared.

About the ASYR Summer Enrichment Program

summer enrichment program Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches art

During the summer, Ranchers will participate in various summer enrichment activities each week. However, Ranch staff can’t pull off the program by themselves. They need the support of the community. Ranch staff are currently seeking involvement from local artisans, makers, subject matter experts, and business owners willing to share skills, knowledge, and talents with Ranchers. Many community leaders and experts are already on board, including:

  • Crumbs Up Bakery
  • Batesville Junior High coach Rian Puckett
  • Lyon Women’s Wrestling coach Kevin Corbett
  • Old Independence Regional Museum
  • barber Troy Dixon
  • social worker Miriah Bruce
  • yoga instructor Alexis Schwinghammer
  • artisans Janet and Dustin Morgan

Some experts will conduct on-site hands-on workshops and demonstrations. Others will host Ranchers at their business or organization site for field trips or workshops.

In addition to the summer enrichment sessions led by community experts, Ranch staff will take the Ranchers on excursions and adventures throughout the summer, including the Batesville Aquatics Center, fish hatcheries, and Arkansas State Parks. The summer isn’t just about fun. Staff will also lead academic enrichment sessions (funded by the Batesville School District) and life skills training sessions. Math, reading, and science sessions will be provided for all Ranchers. Another aspect of the summer enrichment program includes age-appropriate life skills sessions. Topics offered include CPR certification, financial literacy, soft skills, career development sessions, and more.

Other summer experiences for Ranchers

That’s not all. Ranch therapist Maylynn Staggs will lead a summer camp for the Ranchers as well. The camp will feature life skills sessions, swimming excursions, art days, and more. Ives and supporting staff, along with houseparents, will host on-campus group activities. For example, Ives is planning Friday Night Fun, including pizza parties and movie nights.

“We’re still looking for community experts and leaders to get involved. We need experts from all industries to host on-site demonstrations, presentations, training sessions, and hands-on workshops. The more we can involve kids and let them try things out, the more real experience they gain. This helps them build self-confidence,” Ives stated.

Do you have expertise or talent you’re willing to share with the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches this summer?

Please get involved! Contact Philip Ives, Chief Operations Officer, at 870-793-6841 to volunteer to host a session or workshop. Ranchers range in ages from 6-18. Your session may include all Ranchers or specific Ranchers (depending on your expertise and skill level of participants).

If you don’t live nearby but want to support the Summer Enrichment Program, you can make a financial contribution to support the program. Donations help fund pizza parties, travel expenses, and more. In addition, the Ranch needs supplies and snacks for the program, including:

  • pre-packaged nutritious snacks and treats
  • canned or bottled drinks
  • outdoor game and sports equipment
  • water sports and recreational gear
  • group yard games.

To make an in-kind donation of goods or materials, call the Ranch at 870-793-6841.

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