Herb and Jan Hegstad find joy in many places.
They like to dance, play cards, and have friends over to visit. They enjoy wintering in Arizona where tennis, shuffleboard, bocce ball, Bible study, and church services are all just a short walk away. And, they find joy in spending time with their children and grandchildren.
But, their greatest joy is found in the Lord, and in caring for others.
“Happiness is found through Jesus first, others second, then yourself,” Jan said. “You can’t go wrong when you get things in proper perspective that way. Jesus teaches us to care for others. It gives you so much joy.”
Jan said she and Herb have been blessed with an abundance, and as Christians, they believe it’s not all theirs. Her parents taught her to tithe, and she brought that lesson to her marriage.
“We believe in giving back,” she said.
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is one of many charities Herb and Jan support. They made their first connection with the Ranch when their son, Mitch, became a houseparent on the Ranch’s Minot campus. He started in 1990 and stayed for 7 ½ years. Through that connection they learned about the kids who are at the Ranch to heal.
“We support the Ranch because everything we have ever read or heard concerning the Ranch has been very positive,” Jan said. “We have a heart for kids who don’t have a fair chance in life. And, we have seen a lot of good things that are being done [at the Ranch.]”
Jan and Herb have been married for 62 years, and spent much of those years farming and raising Black Angus cattle on a small farm near Powers Lake, ND. Jan said, “I can’t imagine any other life or raising my children in any other place. It was wonderful to work together and raise our children.”
Because they had horses, and their children grew up on horseback, Jan and Herb have a special affinity for the Ranch’s Horse Program.
Jan said, “I just know what a horse can mean. It’s just so healing for them. I think there is, within each one of us, the ability to provide comfort to others, not just take it in for ourselves. I really believe that as kids comfort these horses, it feeds their soul. It’s almost magical because it’s a need we all have—to care for someone or something that has less than we have, that needs us.”
Jan and Herb take advantage of the North Dakota Tax Credit. “Because we have been blessed, we pay tax,” Jan said. “We made a $5,000 gift to a Ranch endowment fund and, in turn, got $2,000 back on our North Dakota tax. We itemize, so the contribution is subtracted from our income to reduce federal taxes. We funded two of them this year because we were paying more. I could have paid $1,500 in state tax, but instead gave a gift to the Ranch’s endowment fund.”
In addition to their faithful financial support of the Ranch, Jan and Herb enjoy attending Ranch events. They attend the Valentine’s Day luncheon in Mesa, AZ, every year, and BLT Day each May, back in North Dakota. Last year, they met their son at BLT Day, where they bought their outdoor flowers and all had lunch together.
“[The Ranch] is a real good institution. And, as ranchers, we just think kids belong on a Ranch,” Jan said. “It is a perfect setting for healing for those kids.”