Introducing the New Executive Director of the DRF

Dude Ranch Foundation Executive Director, Josie Hedderman

A Message from the Chairman, Russell True:

As the Chairman of the DRF board, I am happy to announce that we have hired a new Executive Director, Josie Hedderman.

While we had some great applicants, we were super excited one of the very qualified candidates emerged from Cody. Josie has excellent credentials, having had an outstanding career at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in several roles, particularly managing events.

Our executive committee was very impressed with our Zoom interview with Josie. Purely coincidentally, I was scheduled to be in Cody, and Colleen invited her to a dinner that was already planned. Though we did not discuss business, I was even more impressed with Josie in person. I am optimistic about Josie leading the DRA/DRF relationship going forward. I am also excited about all the possibilities we have been working toward, plus opportunities to host our events and expand collaboration with the Cody Museum.

Josie brings many talents to the position of Executive Director. The following are just a few.

  • Managing all customized event aspects, from sales to planning, staffing, executing, billing, and follow-up.
  • Driving an events revenue increase of 126% with continued projected growth.
  • Leading a strong, results-driven revenue team.
  • Managing all facets of group travel reservations with domestic and international tour operators.
  • Attending travel trade shows and maximizing return on investment through sales and networking.
  • Writing news releases, coordinating advertising materials, and purchasing media.
  • Developing a marketing plan and building creative assets.
  • Maintaining media contacts and supervising photo/video shoots.
  • Providing administrative support and facilitating interdepartmental collaboration.

Again, we are excited to see where our new Executive Director takes us. Welcome aboard, Josie!


A Very Real Dude Ranch Legend Steps Down

Retiring Dude Ranch Foundation Executive Director, Colleen Hodson

After nearly two decades as the Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, Colleen significantly improved its operations, leaving it in a better state than when she started. Similarly, her leadership as the Executive Director of the Dude Ranch Foundation has propelled the organization to unprecedented levels, laying the groundwork for her retirement. With a solid foundation in place, we anticipate continued growth and success. We extend our best wishes to Colleen for more quality time with her grandchildren and her husband, Jerry, and hope she enjoys the satisfaction of a job well done.

What Has the Foundation Been up To?

The DRF foundation committees have been working hard for all of you.

  • Scholarships: The committee is interviewing all the prospective applicants to make their final decision next week.
  • 100 Documentary: The committee has met several times and has narrowed the list of 7 producers down to the top three. They will be conducting interviews with the top three in the next month.
  • Horse safety manual: The committee has completed all the updates, and the manual is at the printers as we speak. Be sure to let us know if you are interested in hosting or attending a wrangler.
  • Lariat Legacy: We are completing the third edition of the Dude Ranch Magazine, the LL. We all believe this will be the best one yet.
  • Fundraising: A fundraising packet was sent to all of you explaining the goals of the foundation. The foundation set a goal to have an endowment of $3M. When said goal is reached, even at 5% interest, we could self-fund our $150,000 budget. What we have now in the Endowment fund is $420,000. The foundation has not taken money from the Endowment Fund to cover expenses for over ten years.

This would fund the following:

  1. Protect and preserve lands (fire mitigation – conservation efforts)
  2. Horse Safety Program
  3. Lariat Legacy Magazine
  4. Scholarships
  5. An increase in Dude Ranch Museum curated ranch displays, building updates, and improvements.
  6. Full-time Executive Director and Museum staff

The Foundation needs contributions from:   

  1. Dude ranches
  2. People/guests who LOVE dude ranching

There are several ways you could help us reach our goal.

  • Commit to a yearly contribution of at least $500 to the foundation. We are a 501 c 3 nonprofit, so contributions are 100 percent tax deductible.
  • Help us to reach your guests who love dude ranching by getting a fundraising packet into their hands, introducing us to them via phone call, e-mail, or in person.
  • Show your support by placing a link to the DRF website on your website saying you are a proud supporter of the Dude Ranch Foundation. Here are graphics to feature:
  • Working with the DRA on the Preservation fund at 0.3%. 45% collected will come back to the DRF. Six ranches so far are participating. Imagine if 40 ranches participated. We could probably raise one hundred thousand dollars there alone.
  • Sponsorship of programs.
  • Legacy Gifts and IRA Distributions.

There are many ways you can help. Ask your financial advisor what works best for you.

Either Doug VanBerkum, Russell True, Bob Foster, Dave Leishman, or Dan Schneider will follow up by phone to answer any questions you might have.  

If, for some reason, you did not receive the packet, let us know, and we will mail you another one. 

  • Dude Ranch Museum: It has always been the goal of the DRF to bring more traffic to the Museum throughout the summer, so this summer, we are trying something new. A well-established river rafting company (an established business in Cody for 40+ years) will have a small presence in the museum, where they will have a booking kiosk set up. They will be in the museum Friday through Sunday, allowing us to keep the museum open over the weekend.  They will greet guests and hand out DRA directories in both this and their main locations. The DRF hopes that someone taking a rafting trip will learn a little more about dude ranching and the Dude Ranch Foundation and donate to our cause!

View Our Annual Campaign

A Little DRA History

Fifth Annual DRA Convention in Billings, MT | November of 1930

First DRA Meeting September 26, 1926 – Bozeman, Montana. Organized by Northern Pacific Railroad.

“Dude Ranching as a business has grown from a boarding house proposition with an occasional summer visitor into an industry that has brought revenue of One Million Dollars to Montana”.

Railroad Executives and Resort owners from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming attended about 100 men and women.

Purpose of Meeting:

  • To establish co-operation and acquaintance with railroads and resort owners (Dude Ranches)
  • How to get guest and take care of them.
  • Establish a publicity and advertising plans for the association
  • To standardize practices – Pricing and Cancellations.
  • To form an efficient sales organization.

The plans outlined at the closing session of the first DRA meeting:

  • Classification of ranches according to accommodations and rates.
  • Active Support of work for the protection of game and fish.
  • Ways to promote travel to ranch resorts via the railroads. Create an aggressive advertising plan.

There are still seven DRA ranches operating today that were at that first meeting 98 years ago!


  1. Elkhorn Ranch, Montana
  2. CM Ranch, Wyoming
  3. Eatons’ Ranch, Wyoming
  4. Dewey Riddle Ranch (7D)
  5. Holm Lodge, Wyoming (Crossed Sabres)
  6. OX Yoke, Montana (Mountain Sky)
  7. Trappers Lodge, Wyoming (The Hideout Lodge)

Rider’s Watch: Safeguarding the Ranch

Hunewill Ranch

With the summer season upon us, there are so many things for you to do to start gearing up to make your ranch the best it can be when your guests arrive.  The horse safety committee has revamped the horse safety manual, and the one key point that they could not express enough is to

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING you do! Below are a couple of other key points about your equipment and tack.

We know that not all areas will apply to your specific programs, but we hope these practices will serve as a tool and a resource.

Equipment & Tack

Equipment and tack should be properly maintained. This should include a pre- and post-season safety check of all equipment that should be documented.

  1. Establish an ongoing procedure for checking tack This procedure should be put in writing and followed by all members of the barn/wrangling staff. The purpose is to ensure they are in good working condition.
  1. Equipment should be checked and documented prior to each ride, including leather, stitching, snaps, buckles, stirrups, bridle, reins, latigo, pads and cinch.
  2. Remove any equipment that is
  3. Endeavor to check that all repairs are done
  4. Leather items should be conditioned properly to help maintain leather
  5. Educate the staff about adjusting equipment for the proper fit to the horse and rider. This should include adjusting bridles, curb straps, cinches, saddle size, pads, and
  1. Remember, if your ranch offers helmets, they have an expiration date, so be sure to check.

Create a maintenance log to document safety checks and repair work.

Wrangler Trainings Schedule

Horse Safety Manual

By Dan Schneider, Vice President, Property, Casualty Insurance NFP

The DRA Horse Safety Program is entering its 24th year and continues to produce liability claims results well below industry averages. As a result, general liability insurance rates for DRA members have not increased (unlike property rates) for over a decade.

The number of injuries related to riding programs remains at a low level. The underwriters that have an active interest in ranch business place significant value in the proactive loss control the Program produces.

As it should, the Program continues to evolve as new techniques and procedures are added and current ones refined. These changes only add to its value. While each ranch is responsible for running its own safe horse program, the DRA Horse Safety Program gives them a tool to do so.

So, as the saying goes… “keep doing what you’re doing.”

2024 Wrangler Trainings:

Where: Triangle X Ranch, Wyoming
When: May 17th at 9:00 a.m.
Instructor: Ane Mommsen
Contact Lucas at 307-690-2942

Where: Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana
When: May 17th at 9:00 a.m.
Instructor: Will Ferguson
Contact Cailin at or call

Where: Bar W Ranch, Montana
When: May 18th at 9:00 a.m.
Instructor: Roley Schoonover
Contact Joe at 406-863-9099

Where: Bar Lazy J Ranch, Colorado
When: May 23rd at 9:00 a.m.
Instructor: Cheri Amos Helmicki
Contact Tammy or Cheri at 970-725-3437

Where: Red Rock Ranch, Wyoming
When: May 29th at 10:00 a.m.
Instructor: Will Ferguson
Contact Nina at 307-733-6288

Where: UXU Ranch, Wyoming
When: May 30th at 9:00 a.m.
Instructor: Will Ferguson
Contact John at 307-578-6789

Where: Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Montana
When: June 6th at 10:00 a.m.
Instructor: Will Ferguson
Kameron or Sally at 406-995-4276

Annual Report

Annual Report 2023

Be sure and check out our annual report. The DRF had a great year thanks to all of you!

Please Give through Bing

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Alliance Partners

Thank you to the Alliance Partners that support the Dude Ranch Foundation mission.