Picture Perfect Ranch Raised Kids

By Amber Morin, Arizona Farm Bureau Field Staff and Southeastern Arizona Rancher: Exposed to the realities of life from birth, ranch-raised kids often find themselves with a sense of maturity that resonates in their presence. Life’s connectivity and the significance of one’s actions is not a mystery to them. These kids are given responsibilities that make them active participants in land management, animal husbandry, and business as youngsters. The significance of the rain and rangeland, to the cattle and horses they raise, to the food they, as young ranchers, produce are common-knowledge associations. They understand early that it is nature’s resources that provide for human needs, and because of this, hold a deep-seeded respect for the land, livestock, family heritage, and present day teamwork it takes to manage a ranch.

I can see what drew Seth Joel and Charlie Holland to their current project, Ranch Raised Kids – a photo tribute to the children they have met on the vast rugged ranches of Arizona.

Four-year-old Cade Rodgers of Grand Canyon Ranches is in the thick of it with his rope and cowboy boots. Farm Bureau members, his family manages Grand Canyon Ranches which serves as a living lab for life's lessons for little Cade. 

When I first heard of the Ranch Raised Kids Project, I was planning for the American Farm Bureau Convention. I was being pulled in many different directions, it was a flurry and my stress coupled with a few planning hiccups didn’t allow me adequate time to appreciate Seth and Charlie’s work or talent. I just remember being grateful the Convention turned out well and that it was over, and as life in Farm Bureau goes, I was quickly on to the next thing.

Time passed, and low and behold, I ran into Seth and Charlie in Willcox at a local Ranch Rodeo. How they found themselves in what I would consider my stomping grounds baffled me. “These two are truly passionate about what they’re doing,” I thought, “and they have a little grit!” Immediately, I went up and welcomed them to the area, my curiosity leading the way. After a quick conversation, it became clear, they were looking for more ranch-raised kids to photograph. Introductions were made to as many parents as I could think of who had children that fit the Project. These families were added to the well-established list Seth and Charlie had started, which reflected several Farm Bureau families. Their adventure in Southeastern Arizona had begun.

15-year-old Houston Klump's family runs Dos Cabezas Cattle Company. They are also Farm Bureau members. 

Despite not having ranch kiddos to photograph, I was fortunate enough to spend a half day with Seth and Charlie on my family’s ranch. It was a treat to get to know them better. As they talked about their devotion and passion for the Ranch Raised Kids project, what impressed me the most was that they unknowingly mirrored the humility, tenacity, and stick-to-itiveness of the ranch-raised kids they were, and are still, photographing. They respect the land, the people they meet, and know that to learn anything you first have to admit that you know nothing. They respect livestock, are humble about their horsemanship skills, and will jump in and help if needed. They are adventurers with a can-do spirit. They are more like ranchers than they realize, and if it weren’t for their accents, they would be mistaken for one of us.

10-year-old Johnny Smallhouse of Carlink Ranch can rope and ride like any ranch hand. The Smallhouse family have been ranching in Arizona for more than 130 years and Johnny's mother, Stefanie, is Arizona Farm Bureau First Vice President.

As they move forward in their project, my encouragement to my peer ranch families and Farm Bureau members is to continue to welcome Seth and Charlie into your homes and onto your ranches. These two are one of us. They understand that it is all about the next generation and that ranch raised kids will continue to add value and contribute in ways that many forget, by holding space and appreciation people, livestock, vast rangelands, hard work, and family heritage.  Their investment in the Ranch Raised Kids project, is an investment in the future of ranching in the West, but more importantly, it is testament to the amazing children that life on a ranch produces. I hope you see the value in Seth and Charlie’s effort, as it relates to agriculture, and the value in them!

To stay up to date on their dirt road adventures and ranch photos, check out their website and follow them on  Facebook Ranch Raised Kids. They just might be at your ranch headquarters next!

Founders of the Ranch Raised Kids project, Charlie Holland and Seth Joel on location at the Menges Ranch.

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