Welcome to the first “Ranch Edition” of the Dude-Halloo! The Foundation realizes that we have two separate audiences in the ranchers and the public who both support the ranching industry. We thought it would make sense to start a “ranch edition” of the Dude-Halloo so we could speak directly to you, the rancher, about issues that affect you as a DRA member and the many benefits of your support of the Foundation that are unique to you, the Dude Rancher. Enjoy!

The 2023 DRA Convention

Congratulations to the DRA on their 97th annual convention. It was a big success. The Foundation also celebrated a milestone of 35 years! Both milestones are a testament to the hard work and dedication from all of you and the dude ranchers that came before you. Thank you to all!

Jerry Helmicki and Janice Schoonover

Congratulations to Janice Schoonover of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, the new President of the DRA. And thanks to Jerry Helmicki, of Bar Lazy J Ranch, for his amazing leadership over the past two years.

Congratulations to Jeannie Ross of Colorado Trails Ranch. Her induction into the DRA Hall of Fame is well-deserved.

DRF Convention Highlights

The Foundation reported that $28,000 was given in scholarships in 2022. Since its inception, 270 scholarships have been given for a total of $450,000. There were 137 wranglers trained in 2022. And since the program began, over 900 wranglers have been trained. Also, in 2022 a new website was created, the Lariat Legacy made its debut, a wildfire mitigation survey was conducted, and three new board members were added to the board of directors.  The DRF also participated in several new fundraising events, raising much needed funds from outside what the DRA members provide for our organization. Several updates to the DRF Museum were completed, not only to the building, but to the many wonderful historical displays within the museum. See the full report HERE.

Convention Vendors

The vendors at the convention were wonderful and all are supporters of the Dude Ranch Foundation. What a great job they did sharing their wares, services, and knowledge during the vendor portion of the convention.

The auction was wildly successful in raising money for the foundation. Thank you to all the donors and buyers! $17,000 will go a very long way in helping the Foundation continue to fulfill our mission.

Congratulations to our new board member, Steven True. We are excited to have you on board. Thank you to Dan Schneider, Janice Schoonover, and Jerry Helmicki for agreeing to stay on the DRF board for a few more years.

A Big Shout-out to Glencar Insurance CompanyNFP Insurance, and Outdoor Insurance Group (OIP). They presented a check in the amount of $15,000 to the Foundation so we can continue to enhance our educational programs.

We are humbled by the support of the DRA and its members as well as the foundation members at the 97th DRA convention. We not only had a great turnout for our sponsored speaker, Frank Carroll, on fire mitigation, we also raised over $17,000 at the auction due to everyone’s generosity. We look forward to using those funds to continue to support DRA members and the industry through educational speakers, horse safety programs, and scholarships that support workforce development, the future of dude ranching, and preservation of dude ranch heritage! ~ Amanda Ferguson Esch, DRF Chairman


Frank Carroll

The DRF-sponsored speaker, Frank Carroll, talked about best practices for fire mitigation strategies on ranches. He instructed on how to engage and collaborate with Federal and State Agencies (Forest Service and BLM) as to fire mitigation on lands surrounding member ranches. He encouraged the development of a plan and made clear the need for such a plan to be submitted.

  • Forest and Rangeland Management Plan
  • Forest Stewardship Plan
  • Wildfire Prevention Plan

Frank encouraged everyone to use their local rangers, county commissioners, and politicians to get the right plan in place for ranches. He also indicated that there might be some federal assistance available.

HERE is a write-up on the best practices for Dude Ranch fire mitigation strategies along with Frank Carroll’s contact information.

Here is the DRF-sponsored talk from the DRA Convention to watch/rewatch: VIDEO.

Frank Carroll has served across the Western United States on wilderness fire crews, as a Hotshot squad boss, as crew boss, as a helicopter manager for a major national park, and for 11 years on the command and general staff of a Type 1 Incident Team.

Frank now leads forestry and fire professionals in wildfire forensics and impact assessments. The PFMc Team analyzes the conduct of fire suppression strategies and tactics, fire effects, fire costs, and wildfire impacts to help private landowners, municipalities, and utilities recover damages from wildfire.

Frank prepares wildfire mitigation and prevention plans for clients across the West and is an expert consultant on wildfire prevention and mitigation.

Horse Safety Class

The Horse Safety Ranch Certification class was well-attended, as usual. Russell True did an amazing job as the instructor and the conversation was quite lively. One question that came up was: What is the difference between the Horse Safety Ranch Certification versus the Wrangler Trainings? Below is a brief explanation of both.

Ranch Certificate Example

The Horse Safety Ranch Certification was originally created for Owner-Operators and General Managers. The certification, which is bestowed or extended upon completion of an annual seminar, encourages the Owner–Operators/GMs to look at their own horse safety programs each year before the season begins. This certification stays with the ranch. Also, at the time this was created, the Insurance companies were inspecting ranches prior to insuring them. The DRA wanted to make sure there was a program in place to help mitigate some of their concerns. As a result, we have been able to avoid many requirements for the Dude Ranch industry that were already in place for other equine operations.

Wrangler Certificate Example

The Wrangler Trainings were implemented some years later as the committee realized that teaching safety procedures to ranch owner-operators was great, but there needed to be more. The Wrangler Training course was established to train wranglers & guides in the skills needed to meet the Minimum Horse Safety and Risk Management practices accepted by the DRA ranches. This course helps to provide the skills and knowledge needed to help prevent potential accidents and demonstrates how to anticipate dangerous situations on the trail. The course follows the material presented in the DRA Horse Safety Manual. The certificate of training completion goes with the wrangler.

Are these classes working? When looking at the Horse Safety survey data, it appears that ranches whose wranglers have attended a DRF wrangler training class had less incidents than those that did not.

We have always known that the Dude Ranch Foundation Horse Safety Program helped us do a better job. And insurance companies knew from their own statistics that the courses work. Added to this, when we submitted our last two injury incidents to our insurance company, one of the first questions the adjuster asked us was “is the wrangler DRF certified.” When the answer was no, it was not well-received. We are scheduling a class right away. ~ Russell True

For more information, please feel free to contact the DRF office at 307-250-1981 or colleen@duderanchfoundation.org.

We are also scheduling 2023 wrangler trainings.
Call to get on the schedule!

Wrangler Training at White Stallion Ranch:

  • When – March 13 and 14.
  • Where – White Stallion Ranch
  • Start time on both days is 9:00am lunch will be provided by White Stallion and the DRF. The class is a hands on class and goes until late afternoon probably 3 or 4.
  • If you are interested in sending anyone please call White Stallion at 520 297-0252 and push 1 for reservations and just let them know and they will pass on to Russell.

Scholarships are Due March 15, 2023.

REMINDER: The Dude Ranch Foundation scholarship application is due March 15, 2023. Download Application Here.

The Dude Ranch Foundation was founded 35 years ago on the commitment to support students with scholarships and internships. Since the Foundation’s inception, over 250 scholarships have been awarded. Today these scholars are working in a broad array of professions such as veterinary science, ranch management, ranching related journalism, and land management/conservation.

The goal of the DRF scholarship is to support the future of the dude ranching industry by providing financial assistance and encouragement to students pursuing an educational program that will lead to a career of benefit to the industry. Our criteria for granting scholarships is listed on our website Here. Submit your application by March 15, 2023.