The Foundation began in 1988 by Mark Grubbs. Mark and his wife, Amy, were co-executive directors and former dude ranch owners. Mark’s dream was to establish a fund to give scholarships to young people who wanted to be in the Dude Ranch industry. Funding was to be obtained from an annual auction held during the DRA Convention. His vision was to retain a fund large enough that the interest would be used for scholarships. The scholarship fund has been administered by our Executive Director (s) and the Foundation Board of Directors from it’s inception to the present.
Sarah Stevenson and Russell True, Board members, had both considered the idea of having the DRA purchase a house or building. Ironically, a building was available for purchase across the street from the historic Irma Hotel. The Board of Directors visited the building and could foresee the potential. Fortunately, the owner was motivated and wanted a sale immediately. Sarah and Russell recognized the opportunity for the DRA, but they also understood that funds were not available to even consider making an offer.
Russell and Sarah made a decision to loan the down payment to the association in order to facilitate moving forward with the plan to purchase a “home” for the DRA—our very own “Heritage Center and Museum.” Their foresight and generosity is an inspiration to all in the dude ranch industry. Following this transaction, the loans were converted to donations for the Heritage Center.
The DRA Board immediately realized that for Doug Van Berkum’s fund raising program to be successful, donations had to be tax deductible. Professional legal and accounting advice were called in and the answer was to expand the purpose of the Dude Ranch Foundation to include ownership of the new building. Each step in this process has been overseen by the Board of Directors and has been approved by our CPA firm and attorney.
The location of our Heritage Center is hard to beat as it is across from the famous Irma Hotel and is located in one of the most authentically western towns with about half a million tourists annually. The Heritage Center plans to add interesting historical items to combine with the already in place items, web site access and brochures that provide an unequaled educational opportunity that introduces dude ranches to western travelers.
The Dude Ranch Foundation Mission
The Mission and Purpose of the Dude Ranch Foundation is to preserve the history and expand the knowledge of America’s dude ranching industry through the Foundation’s Heritage Museum, research archives, educational programs, and support for workforce development and conservation.
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