Approximately 4.5 miles south of Ord along Highway 11, you’ll find Heartland Youth Ranch – a unique organization dedicated to building bonds between family members, empowering youth and simply bring joy to people of all ages.
Founders Susan, Curt and Jennifer Schauer share an inspiring story about following their passion, taking a chance and having a little (or a lot) of faith.
After hearing a radio broadcast about a ministry in Bend, Oregon involving rescued horses and children and feeling the Lord leading them to do a similar ministry, Jen and Susan traveled to Oregon to an information clinic at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. “We spent three and a half days at the ranch attending meetings and workshops on developing a non-profit ministry.” After returning home they began to work on their mission statement, vision and values for their ministry. “We chose the name Heartland Youth Ranch and incorporated under that name in December 2010. We also began the process of applying for our non-profit status. We sent the application to the IRS in March and in July 2011 received our non-profit status. Each step we have taken has been the leading of the Lord for this is His ministry and we are His servants. We serve such an awesome God who is faithful each step of the way.”
The four pillars of HYR’s mission statement include, Encouragement for the Child, Healing for the Family, Empower the Ministry and Care for the Equine. “We encourage the children that come to the ranch to be themselves, to interact with the horses and to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We provide healing for the family by strengthening family bonds and interaction between family members. We share the Love of God and the strength and healing that a strong faith provides. Sometimes healing comes from just being able to have a quiet time while we work with the child. Empowering and strengthening the ministry is important for continued growth.”
HYR now has five horses they have rescued and incorporated into the ministry. “We schedule sessions by appointment only. Each session is 90 minutes. The first 30 minutes involves some type of work activity. We believe in instilling good work ethics in our youth. The last 60 minutes involves working with a horse. We encourage each child to try a different horse until they find that “special” horse for them. They are taught how to lead, groom, saddle and bridle a horse. Safety is always enforced. They are also taught the responsibility of caring for the horse. Teaching the children to properly care for the horses and respect them is important. Each child then moves to the arena and mounts and learns to ride at first being led then learning how to ride untethered. Parents and/or guardians are required to stay on the premises during sessions.”
HYR began working with a few children during their first year of service. Their organization has rapidly grown and they now provide over thirty sessions per month. They have had children from three foreign countries, numerous states and their area of service continues to grow. Their growth has led to the building of a new riding arena in 2013 which allows them to offer several sessions at a time. Each child has a volunteer leader assigned to them giving them individual instruction. “We now have eight volunteers serving at Heartland Youth Ranch with more applications pending.” HYR also hosts “Fun Days” every few months where learning opportunities are offered for children involved in their program and a guest.
“We would like the community to know we are here to serve children and families in our community. We do not charge for our services but do accept donations. We are providing a place for children and families to come and experience ranch life and the human horse relationship.”
When asked about the importance of buying locally and supporting local businesses and organizations, co-founder Susan Schauer responded, “We feel it is important to support our local community and we are accomplishing this by serving families. We believe families are the heart of our community and it is important to have strong families for a strong vibrant community.”