By Janet Zinke, Senior Development Officer
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Last week, Jim Miller spoke to a group of Ranch staff about the Wildlife Club he manages for our kids. Miller, an English Teacher at Dakota Memorial School, the on-campus school of the Ranch, inspired me with his devotion to our children and his faith in God.
Wildlife Club is good for Ranch kids on many levels. Probably it’s most important result is that it gives our kids a sense of belonging. All people have a need to belong, and belonging is something our kids usually lack—or they’ve belonged to a negative peer group.
Wildlife Club also teaches kids how to interact with their peers and adults, how to safely operate machines and tools, how to appropriately respond to adults, how to take "no" for an answer, and how to accept consequences for their behaviors. Most discover hobbies that will last throughout their lives.
One of the Wildlife Club projects over the years has been to build wood duck houses for a local conservation organization. In addition to providing the benefits for our kids, placing wood duck houses all around the Minot region has led to an increase in the wood duck population. What an amazing thing for our kids to witness—they are doing something worthwhile that will have a long-lasting impact on the natural resources of the community.
Fishing is another Wildlife Club activity. One of our girls became the “fishing queen.” As Miller puts it, “She had fished before in her life, but now she knows how to do it right.” Fishing became a passion for this young woman and before she left us, we made sure she had the tools she needed to continue this lifelong hobby.
Miller and his go-to volunteer, Andrew Meier, who is also a teacher at DMS, give of their heart and personal time to help change lives forever. You can see kids turn a corner in their treatment when they are involved in Wildlife Club—their entire demeanor changes and they start to work on making life changes—because they feel loved and they belong to something special.
We are proud to be able to go above and beyond for our kids because they deserve it.