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Joy Ranch of South Dakota expands under new leadership

Joy Ranch of South Dakota is under some new leadership and is planning big expansions for the future.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 7:37 PM CST
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Joy Ranch of South Dakota is under some new leadership and is planning big expansions for the future.

Joy Ranch sits on 126 acres of land and offers equine services to medical camps, foster kids, the disabled and veterans. Joy Ranch is looking to expand to more events, such as weddings and corporate retreats, under new President Joy Nelson.

”Joy Ranch of South Dakota, our core mission is to serve people with quality of life issues. We just do a multitude of things for people who have challenges in their life,” said Nelson.

Joy Ranch has been able to help those on the autism spectrum, like Megan, develop life skills.

”We were worried about some of the social interaction. That first summer that she was up here, she just blossomed socially,” said Kristi Warkenthein, Megan’s mother.

”I made new friends, tried new things and I had great summers,” said Megan Warkenthein.

Joy Ranch offers activities to kids who don’t normally get to experience things like horseback riding.

”I get to ride horses and camps and all that, and it’s really fun for me to experience the riding of the horses and all that,” said Isaac Sheehan, a client at Joy Ranch.

The shift in leadership at Joy Ranch came after the pandemic hit the previous owners hard, but the staff say the future of Joy Ranch has a large amount of potential

”There’s really no limits. We haven’t found something that we go ‘no, we just can’t do that here.’ We have some size restrictions still, but we’re hopeful for the future that some of those size restrictions are going to go away too,” said Shawn McCall, known as Cowboy Shawn at the ranch, who is the Director of Operations.

Joy Ranch of South Dakota is planning to add more lodging, a pool area, recreation rooms and sports courts to expand their already many services.

“Joy Ranch has been in existence for ten years and has operated largely as a summer camp facility. One of our goals going forward is to take and continue that same camp focus during those months, but also expand the uses of this facility, because it is a fantastic recreational and retreat center,” said Jeff Ranum, the new CEO of Joy Ranch.

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