Joshua: Opportunities help uncover solutions

Joshua finds a fresh start at Boys Ranch.

“I’m learning things that I’ve never known about or how to do!” said Joshua, 16, describing his ongoing adventure at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. “I’ve learned about soil count and how fields should be balanced. It’s all very interesting to me.”

Joshua’s thoughts on his Experiential Learning Program position with the Farm and Ranch Department demonstrate exactly the kind of all-encompassing adventure children find at Boys Ranch. Our childcare professionals help our youth find programs or activities that excite and inspire them, and help them explore it as fully as they can. 

In his E.L.P. position, Joshua gets to learn all sorts of new things related to agriculture and livestock. Recently, his team was taking soil samples to make agronomy-related decisions to improve the fields. 

“We hope to be able to teach young people like Joshua enough that they will feel confident working elsewhere, or at least provide them with a solid foundation that they can build off of,” said Joe Ben Pacino, manager of agriculture operations. 

It takes good soil to grow good crops. It takes better choices to grow a good life. As Joshua learns the patience and determination to succeed in farming, he’s learning to apply those lessons to his life, too.

“I’m working mainly on my schoolwork and being able to build trust again with my parents,” Joshua said. “I’m also working on not bottling up when something happens to me. I’m working on how I respond and how I say things to my peers.”

When Joshua arrived at Boys Ranch nearly a year ago, he was a full grade behind in his studies. With Boys Ranch’s help, particularly the help making schoolwork a priority within his home, he’s now enjoying school and making good grades. 

School wasn’t his only challenge before Boys Ranch. The only boy in a blended family of girls, Joshua loved and got along with his sisters. But, from Joshua’s perspective at the time, it was his parents who were the problem. He spent all of his energy not doing what they asked and needed him to do. He wasn’t honest about much when it came to chores and homework. 

It’s quite nice to know that even though I live on Boys Ranch and am away from my family, I do have a family here.

Joshua was defiant at home and at school. He, his parents and his former teachers were exhausted, to the point it had started to affect his father’s health. 

Joshua needed a fresh start. But even more importantly, he desperately needed the chance to explore something new, a renewed focus. 

Through Boys Ranch’s programs in learning and adventure, he’s had new inspiration, and he likes it. He’s thriving. His confidence has grown. He’s made new friends and he’s gained respect for himself. He likes being in a safe place where he fits in. Joshua has gained a new sense of empowerment. 

“I’ve changed my attitude about my future,” Joshua said. “Instead of thinking that I deserve everything, the people I’m surrounded by now are helping me learn that I need to work and earn everything … I need to know how to do certain jobs and be able to do them and not be lazy about it.”

Looking to the future, Joshua is contemplating entering the military one day. He said Boys Ranch has given him far more than he ever expected. Activities like prayer rides and chapel services keep Joshua on a journey of personal growth. He’s also tried his hand at rodeo and is excited about baseball and football. Being surrounded by a team of adults who encourage and support him every day has changed his perspective. 

“One of the biggest surprises for me, once I got here, was to find out that there are people in this world who really do worry about how I feel,” Joshua said. “My primary houseparents at Johnson Home, Thomas and Hillary Nyeken, treat all of us like we are part of their family. It’s quite nice to know that even though I live on Boys Ranch and am away from my family, I do have a family here.” 

As a boy who had no brothers, Joshua has gained a full house of them here!

Joshua: Opportunities help uncover solutions

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