SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — McCrossan Boys Ranch on the outskirts of Sioux Falls has been impacting boys’ lives for nearly 70 years. Their mission is to teach troubled youth valuable life skills they can use for years to come.
Byron Ostrom’s probation officer told him about McCrossan Boys Ranch just north of Sioux Falls.
“Both of my parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol. They were divorced early on, and my dad actually got really involved in drugs. He got arrested and my probation officer that is actually how I learned about McCrossan,” Ostrom said.
He came to McCrossan in 2000 and stayed for just under two years.
“I didn’t want to go down the path I was on, and then he handed me a flyer, one of the old ones for here, and said ‘no we’re going to bring you out here instead,'” said Ostrom.
McCrossan Boys Ranch is for boys experiencing conflict in life. The ranch was where he first lived in South Dakota.
“Not outdoorsy, but like you’re in the country, welcoming with the horses and just, I don’t know it was nice,” said Ostrom.
Melinda McCrossan started the ranch back in 1955.
“They teach you how to work, they teach how to live, I didn’t know how to pay bills or any of that stuff. So like that was probably my biggest takeaway is that I can do that. They empowered me to learn those life skills that I didn’t have prior to being here,” Ostrom said.
One activity the boys enjoy is working with the animals that teach them life skills, hard work and responsibility.
For 16-year-old Parker, this was his first time working with a horse.
“I was nervous because I didn’t know anything about how it would be. Yeah, it’s pretty fun,” Parker said.
He came here because he was struggling in school. He’s now been at the ranch for almost four months.
“If you don’t know something, they’ll help you with it. So it was kind of surprising how friendly most people here,” said Parker.
He helped organize the annual Xtreme rodeo last month.
“Felt kind of proud, like we worked on that all day and so to see all the people out there enjoying it. It was nice,” Parker said.
Most of the boys come from South Dakota, but residents have come from all over the country.
“We try to make it as much like a home away from home as we can. We don’t have lots of timeout rooms and seclusion rooms and bars on windows. We try to make the kids feel like they’re welcome,” said Steve Wahl, associate director at McCrossan Boys Ranch.
Wahl says that one misconception is that most of the boys end up here because of legal trouble.
“Very few of our kids are here placed through Department of Corrections kinds of settings or have committed crimes and been adjudicated. A lot of them come to us just because they have circumstances where they need a place to go,” Wahl said.
The ultimate goal is to prepare the boys to be successful after they leave the ranch. Ostrom got a job at a local construction company where he still works.
“I think their slogan goes a long way, “a new hope, for a better life,” and that really rings home with a lot of kids. A lot of us alumni. That is what this place is about,” Ostrom said.
The school at the ranch is expanding its footprint. Additionally, they’re fundraising to build an athletic track that is estimated to cost at least one million dollars.