dakota boys and girls ranch

Making the World a Better Place

Making the World a Better Place

When I visit with people who work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch with me, I am always heartened to find that Ranchers know, regardless of their role, that they too can make a difference in the lives of the kids we serve. One person can make a tremendous impact on a child's life...but we never know which person and which moment might make the connection that changes everything. We are all in this together!…

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Lucas Mitzel, LMSW, joins Dakota Family Services

Lucas Mitzel, LMSW, joins Dakota Family Services

Dakota Family Services recently hired Lucas Mitzel to provide outpatient therapy in Fargo. Mitzel, a Licensed Master Social Worker, will provide behavioral health therapy for children, adolescents, and adults ages 5-30.…

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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Hires New Therapist

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Hires New Therapist

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch recently hired Jesse Lamm as a therapist in its Fargo Psychiatric Residential Treatment Program.…

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Ministering in Every Day Opportunities

Ministering in Every Day Opportunities

The other day I stopped by to visit a friend and supporter of the Ranch. He is a man of deep faith and inspires me to spend more time in prayer and more time giving thanks. He was in the middle of his devotion when I arrived and was kind enough to read to me from his devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers. He read,…

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Children Learn What They Live

Children Learn What They Live

When I was growing up, Dorothy Law Nolte's poem, Children Learn What They Live, was everywhere. It was first published in 1954 and exploded into popular culture where it stayed through the 1970s. When I was little, it was hanging on refrigerators, on posters in doctors' offices, in classrooms. The poem was even plastered on milk cartons and cereal boxes.…

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The Sweet Season of Harvest

The Sweet Season of Harvest

The Ranch will soon be buzzing with the bottling of sweet alfalfa and clover honey. While we no longer own bees, and our kids don't gather the honey from the hives like they used to (our children in Minot are given the opportunity to help bottle it), honey continues to be a time-honored Ranch tradition. We invite churches and other organizations to hold Honey Sundays in the fall, and at the end of the year, send an 11-ounce bottle of honey to everyone who has given $10 or more throughout the year.…

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Taking Time to "Be"

Taking Time to "Be"

We had a young lady at the Ranch who really touched my heart. Whenever she would see me, she would yell, "Joy," and then scurry up to wherever I was. She'd give me a side hug and beam from ear to ear. Over time, I made it my mission to teach her to shake hands firmly, with eye contact. She was an excellent learner!…

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Back to School

Back to School

Dakota Memorial School (DMS), the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, started last week; and we have the highest beginning enrollment numbers we've ever had. The need for the specialized education program by DMS is in great demand, especially for middle school students.…

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Patience in All Things

Patience in All Things

Christ is at the center of all our work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. God is our hero. To stay grounded in our work, Chaplain Rick Jones sends out a Ranch daily devotional email. All of the devotions are potent, and every once in a while, one makes me stop in my tracks.…

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Food For the Stomach and the Soul

Food For the Stomach and the Soul

Eating good. healthy food makes people feel better. I'm confident our kids experience a little bit of joy when they get to eat such good food. Staff who work with the kids get a pick-me-up from a meal like this, too.…

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Providing Pathways to Success

Providing Pathways to Success

Being a teenager is tough. You're not a kid. You're not an adult. Much is expected of you, but you don't have a road map. Your body is changing. Your thoughts are changing. Nothing seems to stay in place.…

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Ranch Reason from our Concordia Interns

Ranch Reason from our Concordia Interns

This week's blog post highlights the experiences of the interns from Concordia College, who blessed us with their energy, creativity, and kindness this summer. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom to see the video they created! -Janet…

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Showing Up for Kids at the Ranch

Showing Up for Kids at the Ranch

It is almost impossible to overstate the caliber of people I have the honor of working alongside. The level of compassion and decency they bring, meeting each child in the midst of their pain, is inspiring. One of those remarkable people is Gladys Skinner, who is a Residential Supervisor in Challenge Cottage, a Residential Child Caring Facility for girls 12-18 years old. Gladys has been at the Ranch for over four years and she simply exudes, "I got this," in her daily work.…

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Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms: Through the Eyes of the Teachers Who Create Safe Spaces for Kids to Learn

Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms: Through the Eyes of the Teachers Who Create Safe Spaces for Kids to Learn

We've been talking about trauma-informed care and trauma-sensitive classrooms for a long time at the Ranch. But, for me at least, it's been difficult to grasp what exactly that means, and how to explain it. When I interviewed the teachers featured in this article, I saw very clearly that trauma-sensitivity is much more than talk and some cool furniture. Dakota Memorial School (DMS) teachers are trauma-sensitive from the tops of their heads to the very tips of their toes.…

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Walmart—Minot Grants $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Walmart—Minot Grants $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Walmart—Minot granted $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, through the Community Grant Program. The funds received will be used to purchase new windows for the cottages on the Minot campus, replacing the windows that are original to the cottages.…

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Creating a Culture of Learning: The Harmony of Health and Happiness

Creating a Culture of Learning: The Harmony of Health and Happiness

Last week, staff at Dakota Family Services and Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch had the chance to learn from Dr. Wayne Martinsen, MD, MSW, Medical Director at the Ranch, who traveled to all three campuses to present “The Harmony and Health of Happiness.”…

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Compassion and Mercy

Compassion and Mercy

Recently, the reading in church was from Luke’s gospel where Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan. When I reflect on this lesson, I think about how I can be a better neighbor to those around me. I think about times I could have let someone go ahead of me in line, stopped to listen, offered encouragement to someone, or engaged in conversation with the grocery store clerk or the person bagging my purchases. This time, I stopped to think about the definition of the neighbor referenced as "the one" in the phrase, “The one who had mercy on him."…

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"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

One of the most important things children discover in their time at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is their "voice." Most of our trauma-affected kids have been told what they are, what they think, why they are failures, and why they will always be failures. Through hard work, determination, and a commitment to their treatment and education, they begin to discover their strengths. They begin to tell their own true stories, in their own voice.…

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Outdoor Adventures at the Ranch

Outdoor Adventures at the Ranch

This has been a busy week for kids at the Ranch. Kids on every campus had the chance to get outside and experience nature.…

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Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck granted $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, through the Community Grant Program, to underwrite the cost of materials for the Gardening Program and Greenhouse on our Bismarck campus. The donated funds will be used to purchase various gardening tools, tables for the plants that are grown, topsoil, and seeds.…

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Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation awarded $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for the purchase of guitars to be used on our Fargo campus.…

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Great River Energy Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Great River Energy Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Great River Energy awarded $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to underwrite the cost of new flooring for Dakota Memorial School (DMS), Bismarck. DMS, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, educates residents at the Ranch’s psychiatric treatment facility and day students (students who live at home but come to DMS for school). The flooring will create a quieter learning space for children who are highly sensitive to noise and other distractions.…

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Belief in the Power of HOPE

Belief in the Power of HOPE

When it comes to overcoming challenges, Helen Keller (1880-1968) set the bar quite high. She was a lifelong learner, teacher, inspiration. She danced, laughed, wrote, and loved. She was deaf, blind, and had great difficulty speaking. And, she changed the world and the way we view the potential of those with special needs. Her teacher and best friend, Anne Sullivan, who was herself blind and parentless, instilled a sense of hope in the young Helen. Anne had a persistent hope that guided Helen into her future.…

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Mending with Gold

Mending with Gold

I love the kids at the Ranch. They are young and amazing and broken. They are open about their mental health and, most of the time, they tackle their struggles head-on.…

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The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

All of us at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are humbled and grateful each day. First, by the opportunity to serve the Lord by serving others. Second, that the “others” we serve are precious children on a journey of hope and healing to become their best selves. Third, that so many people, like you, support our work. The attitude of gratitude we carry into each day is more than a clever rhyme, it is a worldview based on the honor we feel. We try to find every way possible to share our thankfulness with everyone.…

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