By Heather Collins
Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen has been named board president of the new Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, a nonprofit organization offering leadership camps and training for future law enforcement officers and at-risk kids.
“It’s an honor for me to be selected to be the president, and I look forward to making it a success,” Nielsen said.
The Indiana Sheriff’s Association has been hosting youth leadership camps for 38 years.
The 62-acre ranch will serve as a permanent facility for the youth leadership camps and feature various sports and outdoor activities as well as a confidence course and zip line. At the ranch, teenagers can learn age-appropriate safety techniques to deal with cyber crimes, bullying and firearms safety. They also can experience K-9 and horse patrol training with deputies.
The organization has reached hundreds of Hoosier children during its yearly summer camp. With the opening of the ISYR, the organization hopes to reach thousands of Indiana kids from spring through fall each year. Sponsorships are available and attendees are selected through an application process.
Nielsen said the ISYR was a unique opportunity between the Indiana Sheriff’s Association and a private investor who found the property. The ISYR is in Clay County between Indianapolis and Terre Haute.
Nielsen said the organization has a vision for the ranch to not only be a youth camp but also a training facility for all law enforcement across the state.
Nielsen said many of the children who have previously participated in the youth camps have finished high school, attended college and a majority of them have become police officers.
“The whole purpose of this is to get that early relationship with those kids so they know it’s OK to reach out to law enforcement for any type of assistance, questions and help at a very early age,” Nielsen said.
The organization is seeking corporate sponsors and public donations. The ISYR is expected to open in 2018.
For information or to sponsor a local student or assist in fundraising efforts, contact the Boone County Sheriff’s Office or the ISYR at 800-622-4779.