Where Are They Now: Katie Krasselt Darrow

The Dude Ranch Foundation is happy to present a column in our newsletter about past Scholarship recipients. Katie Krasselt Darrow who received a scholarship in 2001-2002 and we are excited to have Katie as our first one as she has had many ties to the industry over many years.

My dude ranch career started by a chance sighting of a summer job poster hanging outside of the kitchen door at North Idaho Community College in early spring of 1993. As luck would have it, I was finishing up with the one-year Culinary Arts program and was looking for a position that would combine my ranch upbringing, my customer service and cooking skills and my love for the western way of life. The Assistant cook’s position at the new Hidden Creek Guest Ranch in Harrison, Idaho was offered, and I took it and was hooked. Since 1993, I have had the pleasure of working 18 years in the Dude Ranch industry for many different ranches in different capacities as well as at The Dude Rancher’s Association office in Cody. During those early years I was able to earn a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration with a minor in Business from Washington State University after receiving the Dude Rancher’s Educational Trust Scholarship for the 2001 – 2002 school year. I truly would not have been able to pay for my last year of college without your support and scholarship. After college, I worked the summer dude season, wintered a season in Arizona, and cooked backcountry for several outfitters for hunting season. I filled the rest of the year with odd jobs around Cody and started part time at the DRA office when needed. It was during one lean winter that I authored a cookbook called “Spurs In The Kitchen” A Dude Ranch Cook’s Collection of Recipes, that was Published in 2005.

Throughout my Dude Ranch career, I worked the following places and positions:

  • Hidden Creek Ranch, Harrison Idaho – Assistant Cook – Summer of 1993
  • Sweet Grass Ranch, Big Timber, Montana – Head Cook – Summer of 1994
  • Castle Rock Guest Ranch, Cody, Wyoming – Assistant Cook – Summer of 1995
  • Hidden Valley Ranch, Cody, Wyoming – Assistant Cook – Summer of 1996
  • Eaton’s Ranch, Wolf, Wyoming – Waitress – Summer of 1998
  • Eaton’s Ranch, Wolf, Wyoming – Hostess & Dinning Supervisor – Summers of 1999 & 2000
  • 7D Ranch, Cody, Wyoming – Assistant Cook – Summer of 2001
  • Elkhorn Ranch, Tucson, Arizona – Assistant Office Manager – Winter of 2002-2003
  • Rock Springs Guest Ranch – Assistant Front Office Manager – February 2006 – February 2007
  • 7D Ranch, Cody, Wyoming – Head Cook – Summers of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2011
  • The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) – Administrative Assistant, February 2004 – April 2005, and March 2007 – April 2011.

Most of you reading this, know me from my time as Colleen’s Assistant at the DRA office. Working for the DRA and promoting this way of life was truly an honor for me. I had the great pleasure of meeting many of you over the years during the annual convention, my first convention being the year Colleen became Director and the last in 2011. I cannot put into words how much I have loved and cherish those years and the impact this industry has had on my life since.

The past eleven years have been a crazy ride for me. I finished my last spring at the DRA office and last summer as Head Cook at the 7D Ranch in 2011 and moved across the state to Newcastle, Wyoming. I married Jay Darrow, a single father of two amazing boys, Rodney (14) and Grant (8) and started a whole new life. This transition from my Dude Ranch career to wife, mother and spectator of all things sports has been amazing and completely different in every way.

I have been blessed with three totally different work challenges since. The first, becoming the Food Service Director for Weston County School District #1 in Newcastle, Wyoming for one school year. My husband Jay started his dream job as an electrician at the VA Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs, SD in the spring of 2012. We moved back to his hometown of Edgemont, a small town on the southern edge of the Black Hills. Using my diverse career in the hospitality profession as a foundation and my love for children, I once again started a new career as the Director of the Edgemont YMCA. For 3 years, I supervised the afterschool program, directed the summer camp, organized all the youth sports throughout the year, operated the cardio/weight rooms, managed the swimming pool in the summers, and continuously raised funds to pay for all of it. Because the YMCA is located at the school, I was able to be very involved with the school, community events, Church, and all sports and family activities. It was a rewarding job, and I continue to be actively involved with the Y as a Board Member for the past 10 years. In December of 2015, I took on the Canteen Chief’s position for the Veteran Canteen Services at the VA Black Hills Health Care System. At times this position was very rewarding getting to serve our Nation’s Veterans and those that take care of them but the long hours, high stress and being pulled in too many directions was not a good fit for me and the family. In July of 2017, I took a position within the Black Hill VA as a Medical Support Assistant and now currently work for the VISN 23 Western Tier Regional VA Heath Connect Call Center as an Advanced Medical Support Assistant. I now have a very consistent schedule working from home scheduling appointments for the Veterans in the Fargo ND, Sioux Falls SD and Black Hills VA Health Care systems. The best part of this position is that it allowed Jay and I to chase both Rodney and Grant around the country as they grew.

We stayed very busy supporting the boys in baseball, football, basketball, music, plays and every school function known to man. Our son Rodney (now 26) has been in the Air Force for the past 7 years and is currently stationed in Virginia. Grant (now 20) graduated High School in 2021 and finished his first year at Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City for Plumbing Technology. He will continue to work and do schooling with a company in Rapid City to become a journeyman plumber. Now that Jay and I are empty nesters, I am still busy with the YMCA Board and Jay continues to coach Junior High wrestling each fall and is an active member of two local Masonic lodges. He travels all over the state and is very busy as the current Chairman of the Board of Custodians of the Work (i.e. Grand Lecturer) for the Grand Lodge of South Dakota.

My involvement with the DRA and its ranches now is much more limited than I would prefer. I still enjoy keeping up with all the ranch and association news and reading any articles and social media posting that comes across my desktop. I am much more a spectator than player but do enjoy promoting the industry to anyone that will listen, visiting when I can and training a new cook when I get the call. I continue to enjoy assisting friends, new and old, pick the right ranch for the vacation of their dreams. I also never miss the opportunity to guide someone on how to get the best summer ranch job! My nephew spent this past summer as a fishing guide for the 7D Ranch and had an amazing summer. I have a feeling he will also enjoy this industry for years to come.

I may no longer be directly involved with the DRA or the member ranches, but you all remain in my heart and in my wonderful memories of days gone by. Maybe someday when I can retire from my government job, I can come back to the industry that I love and spend many more mornings watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee or enjoy the last shades of light at the campfire! To any of my DRA friends coming to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, or Crazy Horse Monument, please give me a call. I would love to catch up and be your tour guide while you are in the Black Hills.
My best to you from your avid supporter of all things DUDE RANCH,
Katie Krasselt Darrow