Youth Ranch seeks more leaders like Monroe County Sheriff Swain, and Vermillion County Sheriff Phelps

BRAZIL – Leaders of the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch are this year searching for more leaders like Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain and Vermillion County Sheriff Mike Phelps.

Sheriff Brad SwainSheriff Mike Phelps

“This will be a year of construction, expansion, and transition,” says Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse, a vice president of the statewide non-profit training retreat for future law enforcement officers, at-risk kids, young witnesses, and victims of crime. “During 2020 and ’21, the unknowns of COVID-19 interrupted our Youth Ranch fundraising, building, and programming. 2022 will be remembered for new facilities, new events, and new leadership.”


Sheriff Plasse said at least four youth cabins, an interdenominational peace chapel, and additional recreation areas are expected to be completed this year.

More weekend visits called “Sheriffs’ Reward Retreats” will be hosted throughout the summer months for at-risk kids excelling academically and staying on track for on-time graduation. Retreats will be funded by the AT&T Foundation and FirstNet, a specialized nationwide cellular network built with AT&T systems for first responders. Sheriff Plasse said several new public safety officials, business, labor, and community leaders will be joining the ISYR board of directors and advisory committees as some sheriffs will be retiring due to term limits.

“When asked the type of leaders we want to attract, we point to Southern Indiana businessman John Jones, owner of John Jones Auto Group, and UAW Local 933 President Gary Holmes of Indianapolis,” Sheriff Plasse said. “For law enforcement executives, we think of ISYR board members like Sheriff Brad Swain and Sheriff Mike Phelps, among others.


Sheriffs Swain and Phelps serve with Sheriff Plasse as volunteer board members who heighten awareness, raise funds, and support programming for the 62-acre youth compound featuring rolling, wooded acreage, and three private lakes.

Sheriff Swain was always a strong supporter of and personal donor to the Youth Ranch before being elected to its board in 2021, Plasse said. “He was recently re-elected to our ISYR board, because of his ongoing leadership in annual events focusing on motorcycle safety and firearms safety. Sheriff Swain most recently began leading efforts to build a new horse stable at the Youth Ranch, so visiting kids, parents and grandparents can learn about equestrian history, equipment, and safe riding techniques.”

Sheriff Phelps was also an early pioneer for ISYR, Sheriff Plasse said. “He too is in his second year helping lead our not-for-profit but was always helpful beforehand. Sheriff Phelps has brought inmate workers to help maintain the ever-improving Youth Ranch grounds and hosted fundraisers in his home county, including efforts to fund an Eagle Scout project – a large floating lifeguard station. Most recently, Sheriff Phelps has been training with his department canine at ISYR – an ongoing partnership with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. IDHS routinely offers demonstrations for our Youth Ranch teens who may someday become handlers themselves.”


Sheriff Plasse said ISYR currently offers free day visits, overnights, and weekend retreats to teens from participating counties. Students can learn about first aid, CPR, personal safety, substance abuse, cybercrimes, bullying, and other life skills. They can also enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, drone flying, and safe ATV riding.

Other ISYR board members include Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, Cass County Sheriff Ed Schroder, Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, Grant County Sheriff Reggie Nevels, La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd, former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, and Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth.

ISYR bylaws allow sheriffs, former sheriffs, business, labor, and community leaders to serve on the all-volunteer board, Sheriff Plasse said.

For more information, to donate or volunteer, Plasse said to call 317-460-4242, email or write to ISYR, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.