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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jim and Michelle Buck, operators of the Dare to Dream Youth Ranch, 6020 W. Wallen Road, show off Joe, a 20-year-old Paint horse, while Blue, a 15-year-old American Mustang, grazes in the rear.

Monday, August 19, 2019 1:00 am

Five questions for Jim Buck

Executive director, Dare to Dream Youth Ranch

What's the back story on the ranch? How did it come to be?

Dare to Dream Youth Ranch was started more than a decade ago (2008) by a young couple who couldn't decide what to do with this 10-acre piece of land. Some friends helped set up the organization and donated some horses and Dare to Dream Youth Ranch was born. Since that time, it has gone through several changes, but one thing hasn't changed: connecting kids with horses and inspiring them to dream bigger.


2What's the mission of Dare to Dream?

“Encourage the Child, Heal the Horses, Strengthen the Family and Share the Message of Hope.” It's our continual focus to be delivering these elements in that order that changes lives.


3The horses have their own stories – where do they come from and how are those stories incorporated into your work with youth?

Each horse has a very unique story and journey. Some were unwanted, some were rescued from a bad situation. The same goes for many of the kids we see here at the ranch. We don't believe in throwaway horses or throwaway kids. If you can bring a troubled child into a new environment with different rules and unconditional acceptance, the transformation is often simply amazing. We teach the kids responsibility. That they matter, and that what they do here has meaning. And, if they can make the world a better place here, they can, by extension, grow up to be a gift to the world at large. Our world needs more people like that – that choose to be responsible.


4You have some fundraising events coming up; what are the ranch's financial needs?

Right now, we have a number of amazing opportunities that will require new funding from new partners, but we believe there are individuals and organizations out there that will join with us when they learn of our ranch and our work.


5 What's the most memorable interaction you've witnessed between a ranch visitor and one of the horses?

There are many that come to mind, but one I think really captures it. A young boy of 10, who was mildly autistic, was brought to the ranch by his mother as part of a session, which begins with chores, then learning about horse health, and then partnering with one of our trained leaders to saddle up and ride. When it came time to mount up, he became visibly distraught as he approached the horse. He was fearful. He wanted to quit. But his mom said firmly, “Son, you're getting on that horse and you're going to ride it.” Fighting through the tears, he reluctantly swung his leg over and grabbed the reins. As the horse began to walk, almost immediately the sobbing stopped. Within 20 feet or so, he exclaimed, “I got this, Mom!” and proceeded to have the thrill of a lifetime. In the same way, every kid needs to be challenged to dream bigger dreams. This is our “why,” and the ranch, the horses and our dedicated volunteers serve to make that happen for as many kids as we can.