Ranch Voice

Cameron: A Walking Miracle

Cameron: A Walking Miracle

In fourth grade, Cameron started having attention issues. By fifth grade, anything associated with school caused Cameron to experience extreme anxiety. Most days he refused to go. Then he started having wild and out-of-control behaviors.…

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A Future He Never Imagined

A Future He Never Imagined

Now, in his second time at the Ranch, Jeremiah wants the help he needs. "I want to get stuff done. I want to be able to communicate efficiently and to have friends, good friends. My therapists at the Ranch are really helping me with those things. They are helping me with pretty much anything you can name that a young adult needs to live independently." In therapy, Jeremiah has learned to talk through his uncomfortable feelings and emotions. "I think the only way to go forward is to be uncomfortable when you're talking about something. If you stop talking every time you're uncomfortable, it's not going to help you. You have to just sit there and cry and work through things." While at the Ranch, Jeremiah also developed coping skills, learned how to interact with other people, and worked hard to repair and rebuild relationships with his parents.…

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Becoming Adults: Preparing Ranch Kids to Live in the World

Becoming Adults: Preparing Ranch Kids to Live in the World

In so many ways, the children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are just like other kids. They may have endured more trauma than others and need help to heal and move forward, but like all kids, they face a full range of choices as they step out into the world. Just like their peers, some Ranch kids go to college. Others aren't interested or suited for that path.…

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Vocational Education Through the Years

Vocational Education Through the Years

In the 1960s, Dakota Boys Ranch faced some serious education issues. At that time, the Ranch's education program consisted of two elementary teachers, one full-time and one part-time. Consequently, the Ranch was basically dependent on the public schools for educating the boys living at the Ranch. Many of the boys had special education needs and most had difficulty functioning in the public school setting due to backgrounds of neglect.…

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Getting Some Zzzzzzzzz's: Helping Ranch Kids get Good Sleep

Getting Some Zzzzzzzzz's: Helping Ranch Kids get Good Sleep

Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't go home at the end of a long day and crawl into your own safe, comfortable bed. That's what it has been like for many of the kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch—their beds, and sleep in general, have not always been a safe, comfortable place. Some didn't have a bed and spent nights on the floor, on the couch, under the kitchen table...wherever they fell asleep. Others hopped from couch to couch with their families—never knowing where they would spend the night. Many see nighttime as scary because that is when bad things happened to them. They come to the Ranch we expect them to sleep in an unfamiliar place surrounded by people they don't know.…

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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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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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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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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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Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Mannie was just an infant when his parents dropped him off at a family friend's and didn't come back. Mannie, now age 16 and wise beyond his years, says matter-of-factly, "They weren't ready, or didn't have the proper parenting to take care of me." No anger. No resentment. Just calm acceptance of his reality. But it hasn't always been that way.…

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After the "Honeymoon"

After the "Honeymoon"

When you meet Emily today, the first things you'll notice are her wonderful smile and contagious laugh. A very different young woman than the one who walked into Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch—who at that time didn't crack a smile, speak, or look up from the ground.…

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Avoiding Hurt By Not Accepting Love: Aliyah's Journey to Acceptance

Avoiding Hurt By Not Accepting Love: Aliyah's Journey to Acceptance

Aliyah Beyer didn't need help. Yes, severe anxiety and depression made her life hard. So hard she couldn't get out of bed some days. But still—she could handle it on her own. She was used to taking care of things herself. And she was used to being alone, despite growing up in an adoptive family with ten children. For as long as she can remember, Aliyah has wanted nothing more than to fit in and belong.…

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The Ups and Downs of Recovery

The Ups and Downs of Recovery

Laura doesn't have a perfect life. She talks to her dad only occasionally and isn't allowed contact with her mother because of her drug use. But she knows she is in a better place and attributes much of her success to the Ranch. "Without the Ranch, I'd probably be in Juvie, running away, drinking, drugs. I'd have probably gotten into hard drugs and who knows where I'd be right now."…

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Creating Space for Learning

Creating Space for Learning

School is so much more than a place to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. In school, children learn how to work in teams, how to build relationships with their peers and adults, and how to manage their emotions and feelings when in a bustling and energy-filled environment. If kids in treatment can learn to operate within those environments, rather than isolated from them, they have a better chance of success when they leave treatment. School gives them a place to practice the new skills they are learning in a "normal" environment.…

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Resilience, Courage, and Success

Resilience, Courage, and Success

Elizabeth Muralt is on a mission. Her mission is to share her story with children in the foster care system and to advocate for policy change that helps foster care youth live more normal lives. "I want kids in foster care to know they can be successful despite their circumstances. That they can turn negative experiences into positive ones," Elizabeth said. "I couldn't imagine a successful future because I had never seen a successful person who grew up in the foster care system. I didn't know success was attainable for me."…

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Meaningful Memories at Medora

Meaningful Memories at Medora

Last summer, three Ranch residents, Courtney, Sierra, and Megan, traveled to Medora with Amber Benham, Horse Program Coordinator, to hike and look for wild horses. The idea for the trip started when the girls were at the horse barn, talking about how they'd love to see wild horses. Amber told them about the wild horses in Medora, and when she learned none of them had been there, she planned the trip. The special outing celebrated the progress the three girls had made at the Ranch, rewarded them for work they did around the horse barn over the summer, and served as a last hurrah for Courtney, who was discharging at the end of the week.…

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"The New Me"

"The New Me"

Anthony didn't plan to graduate from high school. For as long as he can remember, his plan was to drop out of school as soon as he reached the legal dropout age. Yet, he was one of six students to graduate from Dakota Memorial School (DMS) in May, and he gave a commencement speech during the ceremony. It was a proud moment for Anthony. "All the things I've been through, I never really thought I'd graduate," he said. Anthony's graduation was a dream come true for his parents an older brother. For Anthony, graduation was proof he can do and accomplish more than he even dared to dream.…

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Teachers Are Learners at Dakota Memorial School

Teachers Are Learners at Dakota Memorial School

To learn, children must be connected to, or engaged with, what's going on in the classroom. It's a challenge for every teacher to make their classroom a place kids want to be. It is even more challenging in classrooms at the Ranch, where students have had year after year of negative school experiences.…

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