Area kids benefit from youth ranch
Last updated 4/14/2022 at 1:44pm
MEDICAL LAKE – Keeping kids busy, interested in agriculture and teaching them responsibilities they may not otherwise encounter. That's the purpose of the Jensen Memorial Youth Ranch (JMYR).
Families such as the Shaffer's who live in town and have no available land to raise animals, said they are grateful for the opportunity JMYR provides.
"This ranch is awesome," Tony Shaffer said. "We've got a place in town with no land, so our kids wouldn't be able to have the experience of raising livestock without this place.
"It also provides us a great opportunity to have good quality family time," he said as his children prepped their pigs for morning walks and training.
His daughter Addison was the first family member to get involved with the program. She had a friend who participated and thought it seemed fun.
"It was a lot more work than I thought it would be," Addison said. "But I ended up liking it a lot more because of that."
Addison's involvement influenced her brother Kaden to sign up too. He said the experience had helped him tremendously.
"I have learned so much about caring for pigs in my first year," Kaden said. "I learned about different feeding needs, medical needs, and how to show a pig for sale."
Co-creator of JMYR, 74-year-old Craig Grub, said moments like this are why he and his brothers Carl and Phil created the 100-acre youth ranch.
"My brother Carl wanted to keep good kids doing good things," Craig said. "We wanted to keep them involved with real-life experiences that can teach valuable lessons."
Participating kids must enroll in either 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA). JMYR serves the communities of the West Plains, including Medical Lake, Cheney, Reardan, and areas in between.
Craig said he and his brothers considered opening the program to kids with significant behavioral problems and mental health issues.
"We thought about having some troubled kids out here," Craig said. "Trying to get insurance with that kind of liability proved cost-prohibitive, and we couldn't make it happen."
However, opening up to kids already involved in area agriculture programs has kept the ranch in operation for over 13 years. Craig said the ranch has also been an option for kids who want to participate in extracurricular activities but don't want to be in sports or band. He described agriculture as a multi-faceted part of the world, in which participating youth are continuously learning.
"Agriculture covers a million things and it's not just about raising grains or cattle or sheep. Agriculture includes all of the by-products that come from the animals and focuses on animal sciences as well," Grub said. "Plus, these kids are learning other responsibilities and skills such as public speaking, bookkeeping, and accounting by keeping full records of their animals. They are learning a lot more than they even realize."
Craig spoke about other benefits for the kids and families, as the ranch mainly works as a facilitating organization.
"The kids don't have to pay anything to house their animal and keep it here," Grub said. "They just have to purchase their own animals and buy the feed, medications, and any extra supplies that may be needed. The kids also have to come out and put the work in to clean the pens and train the animals for show."
The Ranch is a nonprofit organization established in 2008 and driven primarily by community donations and fundraisers held throughout the year.