Blog

NASA Botanist on Mars

NASA Botanist on Mars

The children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have endured so much. They have been busy surviving, not learning basic life skills. So, we try to teach them.…

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Are Some Kids Better Off Without Their Families?

Are Some Kids Better Off Without Their Families?

The mission of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is "to help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ." Yet, one question I get asked a lot is, "Aren't all these kids better off without their screwed up families?" Sometimes it is worded much more compassionately. Sometimes it is even more judgmental. Sometimes it is hard to answer with a quick "Yes" or "No."…

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God-Inspired Interruptions

God-Inspired Interruptions

In a book I'm reading, the author talks about God-inspired interruptions, which reminded me of a recent moment of inspiration outside my office at the Ranch. My office is situated across the hall from Shayla Leinen, Principal of Dakota Memorial School on the Fargo campus. Throughout the school day, kids come to Shayla's office, sometimes with an emergency or a behavioral issue, and sometimes just to say hello. Shayla is amazing with our kids; she truly cares about each one of them.…

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Come and See

Come and See

The sermon at my church recently was about the phrase in the Bible, "Come and see." The point of the sermon was that the phrase was only used when "see" really meant "know." "Come and look," according to the speaker's study of the Bible, meant "Come and draw your own conclusions." But "see," was used when the conclusion was not up for debate. For instance, in John 11:34 in response to Jesus asking to see Lazarus as he lay, unarguably, dead.…

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Verendrye Electric Awards $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Verendrye Electric Awards $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Verendrye Electric Cooperative awarded $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to upgrade the security on its Minot campus.…

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Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Sierra, a 16-year-old on our Minot campus, recently shared her story with other residents during Ranch Life (a twice-monthly event where Ranch kids hear inspirational speakers or participate in a service project). While she talked about her childhood as one of abuse, abandonment, and rejection, she focused on joy and Jesus. She wanted the other residents to know they don't have to be defined by their past.…

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Second Time Around

Second Time Around

Ariel is at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for the second time. Her first time at the Ranch was as a resident, and now she is back as an employee, working with kids who struggle with many of the same challenges as she did.…

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He Writes the Songs

He Writes the Songs

Thanks to the generous donors who make it possible, Selby, an educator, singer, and Grammy-award winning songwriter, spends several days writing songs with Ranch kids each year. He connects with students on a personal level, engages them in authentic musical experiences, and inspires them to pursue their own artistic expression. Most importantly, he listens to the kids' stories and helps them turn memories and hopes into songs.…

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"I made a good investment."

"I made a good investment."

"I grew up looking at the south end of a draft horse," said Iowa native, Gilbert Grienke. "I was driving a team of horses behind farm equipment when I was hardly old enough to walk. You love every horse you've ever driven." Horses are what attracted Gilbert to the Ranch. "You use horses to calm the kids and that was something I hadn't seen before. There is something about horses—their honest, forgiving, and calming demeanor somehow helped raise this old man and keep him out of trouble. They are wonderful around kids."…

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Grocery Store Lessons

Grocery Store Lessons

When I was a teenager, going to the grocery store with my dad was so painful! Going with Mom was great. My mom was an excellent cook. We lived on a farm, raised all kinds of vegetables and fruits. Had our own chickens. Bought eggs from a neighbor. Now all that is cool, but then it was necessary. Still, we went to the grocery store for all the fill-ins. She taught me about different spices, oils, and the difference between baking soda and baking powder, while we went up and down the aisles at Hugo's, the local store. Best of all, Mom was a shy and reserved woman, not one to draw attention to herself... so shopping with her was just her and me.…

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Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Samantha wants Ranch donors to know how grateful she is for the held she received at the Ranch. "Not everyone comes out successfully, but most do, and they're very grateful for the help they get," she said. "People who donate [to the Ranch] really want to help these children and teens. They want them to know they are cared for and they want them to get better."…

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Creating Lifelong Connections: The Role of Case Managers at the Ranch

Creating Lifelong Connections: The Role of Case Managers at the Ranch

I sometimes joke that my job as a case manager is a little bit of everything, usually all at once! The real answer is that I, and other case managers at the Ranch, support the long-term success of our kids by advocating for them and creating community connections. Accessing resources to help young trauma survivors succeed is challenging for families who are not well-versed in navigating the web of community, state, and federal human service systems. Securing the community support and aftercare services is so important to the long-term success of Ranch kids—so, case managers help families get everything in place.…

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Courageous, self-aware, and determined: A young woman finds hope and healing at the Ranch

Courageous, self-aware, and determined: A young woman finds hope and healing at the Ranch

Dionna is one of the rare residents who asked to come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. After two suicide attempts and a stay at the Child and Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program (CAPH) in Minot, Dionna decided it was time to focus on herself. It is difficult to find the courage and self-awareness to ask for help when all seems hopeless. It is even more remarkable to see that courage in a child. At age 17, with the support of her forever parents, who lovingly adopted Dionna and her brothers, Dionna came to the doors of the Ranch to, "try to get better."…

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More Than Her Broken Past: Young woman moves from victim to survivor to advocate

More Than Her Broken Past: Young woman moves from victim to survivor to advocate

One absent mother. One abusive father struggling with addiction. Five stepmothers. 29 schools. 12 states. Six foster homes. Countless hospital and treatment facility stays. You'd think all of that would add up to an angry and defiant young woman. And, in many ways, you'd be right. Brooklynn is angry. She is angry people treated her the way they did, especially the very people who were supposed to love and protect her.…

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From the North Dakota Plains to Scotland: Aaron's Long and Winding Road

From the North Dakota Plains to Scotland: Aaron's Long and Winding Road

Last spring, Aaron Waldron responded to a Ranch social media requesting asking people to send Easter messages for our kids. On the form he completed, Aaron listed his address as Scotland. We were super excited to hear from someone in Scotland who cared about our kids. And, even more excited to hear Aaron had lived at the Ranch in the late 1980s. He was very grateful for the care he received and wanted to share his story in the hopes it would encourage others to seek help for their children. Here is Aaron's story.…

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Hard Work and Dedication

Hard Work and Dedication

Like every other high school, Dakota Memorial School typically holds graduation ceremonies at the end of May; and this year, we have students graduating on all three Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch campuses. Graduation is a big deal at the Ranch. Regardless of the number of graduates, we decorate the gym and celebrate in style for the benefit of our students and their families.…

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Jumpstarting Imaginations

Jumpstarting Imaginations

Children should have wonderful imaginations and see great possibilities. For many years, my son was committed to the idea that his life's work was to invent a flying car ala' the Jetsons. He saw his future as allowing him to pursue his dream, whatever it may be. And, to a large extent, he was right. Although his dream changed and he now is delightfully happy working in the culinary arts, he continues to develop greatly imaginative recipes.…

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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Receives $1,000 from Great River Energy

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Receives $1,000 from Great River Energy

Great River Energy awarded $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to purchase equipment and sensory items for the sensory room on its Bismarck campus.…

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Lawn Mowers, Confidence, and Pride

Lawn Mowers, Confidence, and Pride

It is really important in an organization like Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch that every single person… no matter their role or position, know why we are here and why we do what we do. Our ability to meet our mission, “to help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ,” hinges on each person’s ability to understand how what they do impacts the kids. Whether direct service or working in our thrift stores, providing therapy or patching holes in the walls, every person makes it just a little more possible for these amazing kids to heal.…

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The Many Hats of a Ranch Nurse

The Many Hats of a Ranch Nurse

nurse /nərs/ a person who cares for the sick or infirm, specifically: a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist and who is skilled in promoting and maintaining health. You probably don't need a dictionary definition to know what nurses do—they care for the sick. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, especially for nurses at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Nursing is an integral part of the care Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch provides to children in residential treatment, and Ranch nurses wear many hats.…

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Quiet Moments

Quiet Moments

I sat in my office the day after Easter and reflected on the quietness of the moment. Usually, the hall outside my office is anything but quiet, as students head towards music class or stop to visit with our principal whose office is just across from mine. I thought about all the boys and girls who have walked down that hall. All the stuff each child carries with them—trauma, heartbreak, and thoughts of not being loved. That is a lot for a child to carry.…

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Do You Ever Identify with "Doubting Thomas?" I Do.

Do You Ever Identify with "Doubting Thomas?" I Do.

The Sunday after Easter, the scripture readings in church were all about Thomas, who for all time, has been dubbed "Doubting Thomas." Poor guy. I don't think it is fair that he gets labeled for doing what nearly all of us would have done in the same circumstances!…

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Sam’s Club—Fargo Grants $500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Fargo Grants $500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Fargo granted $500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to underwrite the cost of AED Trainers, which will be used during the mandatory CPR training courses on our Fargo campus. The granted funds from Sam’s Club were donated through Sam’s Club’s Community Grant Program.…

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Moving Towards the Light

Moving Towards the Light

Earlier this year, Dakota Family Services, the arm of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch family that provides outpatient mental health counseling, hosted "The Light Experience." With Dakota Medical Foundation's support, the virtual event gave teenagers a safe space to talk about mental health, learn, and ask questions. Small breakout sessions were offered on depression, self-care, anxiety, suicide, and ADHD. The youth had a chance to learn about mental health and how to ask for help. Over 100 teens "ZOOMED" into the event.…

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A Joyful Servant

A Joyful Servant

Marie Frye comes in early each morning to brew a pot of coffee for the Minot Thrift Store staff. This is a small act, but one that so many that work with her appreciate. It's telling of her care and love for the Ranch and the people she works with.…

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