Dave Maxwell
KW Legacy Ranch in Hiko celebrated its fifth anniversary Sept. 23 with a special visit from some who have supported and served as consultants for the program over the years.

KW Legacy Ranch in Hiko marked its fifth anniversary with a special observance Sept. 23.

Founded by Luke Hatch and Yancey Whipple, KW Legacy Ranch is a place for troubled youth and also is a drug rehab treatment center.

KW promotes the ranch environment as being “a family-focused adolescent program that utilizes a real working cattle ranch as the therapeutic approach to changing lives and playing a small part in helping transform the family’s legacy.”

Whipple said, “A number of the people we work with, supporters and others, including educational consultants, psychologists, psychiatrists, and placement specialists, who help refer us to parents who are looking for a place to send their child, came on Friday night. These people came here from several of the western states.”

He said, “We had a nice breakfast Saturday morning, did a little cattle drive with some of the visitors, students, and staff. We had a lunch on the lawn at the main house. Some of the girls performed cowboy poetry, and we took a group visit to the petroglyph sites and scenery on Irish Mountain. Saturday night, we held a dinner which included our current staff and some of the previous staff members.

This event was not an alumni gathering of KW Legacy, Whipple said. “We do those each year, one for the girls, one for the boys, at other times, usually around Labor Day.”

KW Legacy handles about 15 teen boys and six girls on a regular basis. Normally, all are enrolled at Pahranagat Valley High School taking online classes and can earn a diploma. Some have walked in the PVHS graduation ceremonies. A couple of past students even played on Pahranagat Valley High sports teams.

Whipple said, “Maybe once in awhile we might have one who has already graduated from high school when they come here, but that has been quite rare.”

He said the visitors to the anniversary commented they were very impressed with what the ranch is doing with the students. Those they talked with said they liked the program, how genuine the relationships were with the staff, and how they could be outdoors and get some healthy activity.

Being a working ranch, the students are doing activities associated with any ranch operation. “That is the uniqueness of this program,” Whipple noted. “There are maybe only one or two others nationwide that are even close to what we do. It’s what sets us apart. Working side by side with the staff, learning self-esteem, work ethic, respect, responsibility, and appreciation, etc. These past five years have shown us how much we do affect the lives of those we are seeking to help.”

One of the visitors took time to write a letter of appreciation to the ranch expressing their thanks for the opportunity to come to see the program first hand and gain a greater understanding of the lasting value “of the really exceptional program you have built.”