Staying true to the tradition of a loving home, a southwest Missouri Angus ranch is leading the way in providing a caring and stable home environment for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity—all thanks to a generous donation from a once-adopted child and his dedication to helping others.

Located along Route CC in McDonald County, the well-maintained Emerald Ranch has a legacy of raising quality registered Angus cattle, but since its donation in 2007 to the Show Me Christian Youth Home, it’s easy to see the ranch is first dedicated to being a steward to the needs of youth who find themselves in adverse situations.

Operating as a satellite facility of the Show-Me Christian Youth Home headquartered in La Monte, Mo., the nearly 300 acres that comprise the ranch were donated to the Show-Me Christian Youth Home in 2007 by Dr. Will L. Lane in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. G. Lane, with the goal of growing the ranch into a vibrant Angus operation that will be a support base for itself and the home’s seven other units.  Dedicated to providing a loving and stable Christian home for children with backgrounds of abuse, neglect, abandonment or other unfortunate circumstances, the home is funded solely by donations.

Adopted from a Virginia orphanage at the age of 10, Dr. Lane, a retired minister, views the donation as an opportunity to help children in need, the way his parents helped him. Now, the ranch he spent 17 years building on the magnificent rolling hills of McDonald County is much more than a first-class Angus operation.

The extensive renovations Dr. Lane completed on the ranch home place made it easy to mold the house into a satellite facility which provides a warm and loving environment for four children, under the guidance of Chuck and Carol Hurley, who serve first as house parents and second as Emerald Ranch managers.  

“This donation has helped us long-term, and not just this unit; income from the ranch is going to help the entire ministry,” explained Hurley, who noted that the statewide organization assists upward of 75 kids. “It’s such a generous thing that will help so many kids for years to come.”

While generous, Dr. Lane’s donation did come with a stipulation—that the ranch never be sold. His goal is to see that the productivity of the ranch is turned into a long term asset. Currently running 52 head of cattle procured through the generosity of private donations from churches, civic organizations, individuals and other cattle breeders; the plan is to increase the herd to 150 momma cows. A quick look through the organization’s annual report makes it easy to see it has strong support from churches and organizations representing many faiths, all coming together to help meet a need that has become staggering. Typically providing long-term care for children from birth to 18 years of age, the home receives nearly 250 calls a year to place children and usually has room for only about 20.

 Now retired to Bella Vista, Arkansas Dr Lane makes it up to the ranch on occasion, and enjoys seeing the progress the ranch is making, both with the children and the cattle.

“Chuck has done us a real good job,” said Dr. Lane as he looks proudly across the fields, pointing out improvements and their advantages to the program.

Always quick to lend a hand in support of the ranch, Dr. Lane provides what input he can in regards to the breeding program and management. Looking over a set of stout yearling bulls the ranch is offering for sale at private treaty, the retired Angus breeder is quick to boast of the ranch’s success and is happy with its continuance in raising registered Angus.  Sticking to Angus has benefited the youth home, as many of Dr. Lane’s customers still return to the ranch for breeding bulls.

He and Hurley both anticipate the not-for-profit organization will construct a larger home on the ranch, in order to house more children. Currently, Emerald Ranch is home to three teenage girls and an 11-year-old boy. While some children do attend public school, children at Emerald Ranch are part of the Show-Me Christian School, with Carol Hurley facilitating the local academic program. The home’s small, but well equipped learning center includes private desks for each of the children, who are assessed academically upon reaching the home in order to best meet their educational needs. Extra-curricular activities include involvement in state-wide youth home programs, local church activities and community youth sports.

The Hurleys, who have a grown family of their own, enjoy their involvement with the ranch, having been instrumental in the start-up of the Eldorado Springs facility in 1993 as house parents. That unit’s 40 acres allows the home to maintain a small commercial herd, specifically for providing beef for the program.   Maintaining eight units across the state, six of the home’s facilities were attained through direct donations of land by private individuals.

“This is a ministry that is obviously greatly needed, even though we wish it wasn’t,” said Carol, who says most of her time is spent housekeeping and supervising the children.  “I’m just glad we are able to provide a home for kids who need a home for whatever reason.”

Upholding the home’s slogan, “Where Love Grows,” meeting the spiritual, academic, emotional and physical needs of these children is first and foremost at the ranch and thanks to donations by those willing to put their faith into action, the success of Emerald Ranch will go far beyond the pastures.

While some of the children at Emerald Ranch are quicker than others to help with the cattle, all are involved in daily household and lawn chores. The home is not about embedding the children in agriculture, but rather allowing agriculture to help provide them with a loving environment. The kids are raised as a family that shares the successes and failures of each member and comes together in prayer, work and play…because every child deserves a home and a family.

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