Allie Beach, 18, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a senior at Victory Christian School, helped her church create a ranch for children from low-income families and foster homes, after co-directing an annual summer camp for the past 11 years and helping to start a youth-run philanthropic pizza business. When Allie was 7, her church wanted to start a summer-long camp for children in need, but couldn’t find an adult to serve as director. Allie quickly volunteered, and since then, she and a partner have led a 10-week camp that serves more than 100 kids each summer. In 2017, Allie worked with her church’s nonprofit to establish a “pizza factory” to serve the homeless and teach kids life and business skills.
Recognizing that these youth could also benefit from a ranch experience, Allie and her team studied the operation of horse ranches in several states, raised funds through grants and fundraisers, found a five-acre property to rent, and recruited more than 120 volunteers from local high schools, colleges and churches. Then they built fences, prepared animal pens and began acquiring more than 100 rescue animals, including horses, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. Now, nearly 200 young people a year spend time at the ranch, caring for the animals, doing chores and learning new skills. “The kids love the animals, and surprisingly love the ranch responsibilities,” said Allie. “It is big-time, stress-relieving, confidence-building therapy they need.” Allie and her church’s YouthWorks nonprofit are now looking to buy a ranch so that they can continue to offer this experience to kids in need for years to come, she said.