(BRAZIL) – Thumbs up! That’s how teens reacted to their weekend at the new Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.
Nine students, who are excelling academically, were rewarded by their schools and local law enforcement to be among the first of 200 Indiana teens who will spend weekend retreats at the Youth Ranch.
For now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small groups of young leaders will take temperatures, wear masks, use hand sanitizer and socially distance during their free visits.
“We hiked, canoed, fished, shot archery and learned about K-9s, drones and safe ATV riding,” said Javon Y., a 13-year-old student leader. “I made a bullseye and caught five fish.”
Javon and eight other teens from Indianapolis schools were guests of former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, the Youth Ranch founder and board president. Chaperones for the IPS group were Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Antwon Keyes and IMPD Officers Khyree Jones and Deon Harris.
Keyes, Jones and Harris used the backdrop of one of ISYR’s three lakes and the serenity of a campfire to talk with the teens about responsibilities to themselves and those they love and care about.
From time to time, the three IMPD officers counseled the students one-on-one about respect, manners, obligations, rules and punctuality.
“ISYR, our 62-acre not-for-profit youth training retreat, is being developed here in West Central Indiana, so law enforcement statewide can mentor future officers, bond with at-risk kids and comfort young witnesses and victims of crime – including sons, daughters and siblings of fallen first responders,” Layton said. “With the help of generous and caring donors, we hope to help parents and grandparents mold better kids with safer futures.”
Layton credited other Indiana sheriffs, business and union leaders for sharing his vision and passion to purchase the wooded, rolling property and to help develop a unique youth academy to make Indiana’s neighborhoods, schools and workplaces safer from drugs, violence and other crimes.
Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel and Putnam County Sheriff Scott Stockton serve as vice presidents of the nonprofit. Grant County Sheriff Reggie Nevels is secretary and Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux is treasurer. Other ISYR board members include: Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd and Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth.
Layton said when fully developed, Youth Ranch leaders hope to host 100 teens at weekly, summer leadership academies in addition to weekend retreats in the spring and fall of each academic year.
To donate or for more information, Layton said to call ISYR Executive Director Scott Minier at 317-460-4242, email ScottMinier@yahoo.com or write the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.
Planting Ideas, Trees for Future Kids
Former Marion County Sheriff Layton, IMPD officers and volunteers join student leaders in a ceremonial tree planting to conclude their weekend retreat at the Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.
Each visiting group will be asked to participate to help reforest ISYR. Sheriffs and deputies hope these student leaders will one day visit with their own kids and see a contribution they made to ISYR’s beauty.
This weekend’s dedication was an apple tree, which is a favorite of area deer and other wildlife.