My background is in real estate and finance, but I have been serving at Wildwood Hills Ranch since 2004. While at The Ranch that summer I read a letter to a nine-year-old boy that his mother had written telling him they could no longer be a family. That boy went into the custody of the state after he left The Ranch. I thought about that boy numerous times and wondered where he ended up. After jumping back into my real estate career I was approached by another organization to volunteer with abused, neglected and impoverished children. Three years later, while working with that organization, the young man I read the letter to showed up not only in my cabin but in the group of three children I was responsible for that week. Shortly after that experience I was employed full time at The Ranch. I believe that many of the problems in our society, and around the globe, are caused by fathers failing to follow through with their responsibilities. I believe the reason I was put on earth is to defend the cause of the fatherless. I spend my free time with my beautiful wife Jena, our daughters Bekah, Maddie and Alaina and our son, Wyatt, and family and close friends.
Director of Operations
I graduated from UNI and majored in leisure, youth and human services … essentially I majored in fun! My emphasis was in nonprofit administration and programming and had the opportunity to participate in some incredible internships and experiences in ministry, camps and nonprofits. Through many of these experiences God began to break my heart and draw my attention to people who did not have the same story as me. Those who were stuck in abuse and neglect, who didn’t have healthy families, or who lacked the security, blessing and opportunities I had been given. God brought me to Wildwood and my passions, interests and gifts began to align. I am absolutely loving getting to work with our summer staff and ranchers! Plus, when your “office” includes a high ropes course, waterslide and bonfire pit, each day is a new adventure!
I started at the Ranch in August 2012. After working for several years I went back to school to get my degree in business administration. Upon completion I reentered the workforce, but couldn’t seem to find the right fit. When I was approached for this position I finally found what I was looking for. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work here and I thank God for bringing me to a place that does such wonderful things for children. I have an awesome husband, Ed, and four wonderful kids, Mike, Shawn, Cassie and Jennie. I also have four amazing grandchildren, Drake, Naomi, Natalya and Jackson. I feel privileged to be able to come to work every day and participate in what God is doing here.
My journey to Wildwood Hills Ranch has been an unconventional one but I am amazed and filled with thankfulness when I look back and see how God orchestrated specific events in my life to bring me here! I graduated from Iowa State University in 2016 with a degree in Marketing and a passion for the outdoors which brought me up to Spokane, WA where I guided for a non-profit, faith-based outdoor ministry that provided outdoor adventures to youth at-risk. It was here that I discovered how broken the world really is when I heard stories of kids who had experienced homelessness, neglect, drug abuse, and abandonment from far too young of ages. My heart was so broken for these kids and so I decided to combine my passion for outdoor ministry with my skillset in marketing by transitioning from being a guide to a marketing director in order to share these kids’ stories and give a voice to the voiceless.
In 2019, I decided it was time to go back to my roots and live closer to family here in Iowa but I didn’t know how I could continue my passion for outdoor ministry with at-risk youth in a place with no glaciers, mountains, or whitewater. However, through a series of events and hearing more about the impact that The Ranch has had on eliminating child abuse in Iowa, I decided to join the team! I believe that the single most effective way to bring restoration and healing to anyone, including at-risk youth, is through the hope and redemption found in Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, I know my calling – to bring that life and hope to the world through proclaiming this good news! That is why I am overjoyed to work for Wildwood where the mission here is to provide hope and healing through God’s unconditional love.
Facility and Grounds Manager
I was 19 when I first encountered the love of Jesus, He completely changed my life and I began my journey into ministry.
I first went to Youth with a Mission, then studied at the International School of Theology in Florida where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology. My wife and I pioneered two churches in Washington State where I also worked as a painting contractor for over 28 years.
My first visit to the ranch happened while I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law in July 2021. I was so impressed by what I saw and the passion everyone at the Ranch had for the children and groups that visited here. It is a great honor to serve as the Maintenance Manager at Wildwood Hills Ranch where lives are transformed and individuals are made into strong leaders.
I came on as full time staff in January of 2022, and truly it is a dream come true! When I came to the Ranch as a little 9-year-old girl, I never knew how much the Ranch would still be in my life twenty years later! In college, I received a Bachelors in elementary education and Bible as well as a middle school endorsement. God gave me a desire at a young age to help those around me, and I thought an education degree would be a great place to start. I taught a variety of grades 6-12 at Christian schools for seven years and love working with young people. It is an honor to have gone through the Leadership programing at the Ranch as a teen, be on summer staff as an adult, and, now, it is so exciting to teach outside of a classroom, and help students come to the Ranch to have God offer them healing hope, just as He did for me so many years ago!
Equine Activity Director
“Mr. Lynn,” as he is known here at the Ranch, was in Arizona working at a gorgeous guest ranch as head wrangler. It was a wonderful position in a beautiful location, but it was a training ground and God was at work. The thoughts, “I feel I’m not serving the Lord as well as I might” kept running through his mind. He prayed, “God, lead me to work with kids and horses.” Well, God does hear and answer prayers! And now as the director of equine activities, Mr. Lynn works with hundreds of kids each year through the summer programs, develops and leads equine-assisted learning and equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions for kids throughout the year, leads the drill team, gives riding lessons, takes care of our incredible indoor arena and provides for about 35 horses throughout the year.
My journey to live for Christ was cultivated on the first Mission Trip I had ever taken in my life, and that was here at Wildwood Hills Ranch in 2008. My heart was overtaken as I could feel the presence of God on these grounds. I continued to be a participant on teams, and served with my best friend whenever we could make it work on our own time. In 2010, the church I attend, and had started to work for, asked me to begin leading their mission teams to The Ranch! I led for 7 years and loved every moment of emotions, hard work and love for the children that team members engaged in! After 10 years of having this passion for The Ranch and a vision for working with teams, I was asked to join the staff to become their Missions Director. I am highly blessed!
I live in Minnesota during non-programming months with a husband that knows it is God’s calling for me to be at The Ranch for the summer months. I have children, grandchildren and friends that have served and experienced The Ranch with me for all these years!
My heart is to seek Jesus and make the mission experience the absolute best for all! My life was changed here and watching that happen for others fuels my soul! All for His glory!
Photos by Emily Hedgecock