Jerry Helmicki - President
After climbing the corporate ladder and having a successful career in the business world, at age forty-three I was burned up. It was definitely time for a change and time to look for a more satisfying and rewarding lifestyle. I was always interested and fascinated with the west, and after visiting several dude ranches both Cheri and I decided that the multi-dimensional aspects of “dude ranching” offered the lifestyle and environment we both wanted and were looking for. In 1995, we purchased the Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch in Colorado. That year required giving up a successful career, selling all our worldly possessions, cashing in all our retirement investments and leaving the area I was born and raised in. While we had no background in ranching, we were able to apply our previous skills and experiences to build up our dude ranch operation. Twenty some years later I can honestly say I never looked back nor had an ounce of regret. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve on this board and to participate in supporting and promoting the business of “dude ranching.”
Janice Schoonover – Vice President
Janice was born and raised on the ranch that guests know as Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Her family roots have grown pretty deep in the Gold Creek Valley, with six generations from her mother’s side and five generations from her father’s side calling the Gold Creek Valley their homes.
Janice married her high school sweet heart, Roley Schoonover, in 1982. After a few years away for college the couple returned to Northern Idaho and added guest ranching to the family ranch in 1991. Their two children Danielle and Isaac grew up on the guest ranch. Both have married and live and work at the ranch, along with two grandchildren Emily and Gabe.
Hunter Sullivan - Treasurer
Hunter has extensive ranch and outdoor experience and a passion for ranch life. Before finding his niche at the CM Ranch Hunter spent 8 years at the Spotted Horse Ranch south of Jackson, where he served as Ranch Operations Manager. He also has broad backcountry and fly-fishing experience. Hunter, Mollie, their 11-year-old son Luke and 4-year-old daughter Nora are beginning their 11th year as CM Managers. Their love of the CM grows with every passing season and they continue to carry on the rich traditions that the CM is well known for, with a few added touches of their own.
Dan Schneider – Board Member
Dan Schneider has been President/CEO of The Schneider Group, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona, since 1982. He has also been very active in developing many industry programs. The single largest specialization is an insurance program for medical device product liability insurance. He also has worked with many dude ranches in their risk management, property/casualty insurance solutions and the creation and administration of waivers/assumption of risk forms. He has extensive experience in insurance production management and marketing management.
He has attended several insurance company schools including Fireman’s Fund, Hartford and Federated as well as continuing education classes in Agency Management, Sales Management and Commercial Property & Casualty Insurance.
Dan also played professional baseball from 1962 to 1971. He started with the Milwaukee Braves. He played with the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.
He has been Chairman of the Arizona Baseball Commission, President of the Southern Arizona Sports Development, League President, Little League Baseball and Tucson Commissioner, Big League Baseball
Bob Foster – Board Member
Bob has been active in the hospitality and ranching industries. He is currently serving as President of the Woodland Park Tourism Alliance and on the board of The Dude Ranch Foundation. Over the years he has served on many state and national Dude Ranch and Hospitality Association Boards. He owned and operated Lost Valley Ranch, Sedalia, CO, managed Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, MT., and consulted on Rawah Ranch, Glendevey, CO.
Bob was raised in Colorado Springs, CO and graduated from Wheaton College, IL. After serving five years in the US Army, he completed a mater’s program at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Bob and his wife, Karen have two adult children and live in Woodland Park, Co.
Don McIntrye – Board Member
I loved growing up in Louisiana where there was an emphasis on faith, family and friends and where food and fun were a huge part of the culture. The only thing missing was horses, so after I graduated college, I headed west to join the staff of Elk Canyon Dude Ranch in Montana. It was there that I found my calling and took a bit of the Cajun culture West! In 1998, I got my dream job and began working at Wind River Christian Dude Ranch. It was in 2002, that a guest at WRR introduced me to my future bride, Sara McIntyre. With a great 15 years of marriage now under my belt and the blessing of two buckaroos, Lena and Cason, I feel incredibly blessed that we get to serve in dude ranching as a family. I am also honored to get the opportunity to serve on the Dude Ranch Foundation Board and I will strive to help the Foundation grow and carry on its traditions
Russel True – Board Member
Russell True owner and operator of White Stallion Ranch which was homesteaded in 1936 as a cattle ranch in Tucson, Arizona. His parents, Allen and Cynthia True purchased the ranch in 1965. White Stallion is currently operated by the third generation of the True family. Russell and his wife Laura also own Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone and Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe.
Russell is the author of Dude Ranching in Arizona, and Dude Ranching in Wyoming, he was inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame along with receiving the prestige award of person of the year by Family Travel Association in 2019.
Russell was co-founder and president of the Arizona Dude Ranch Association and two-time president of the Dude Ranchers’ Association.
As you can see dude ranching has been a part of my life since day one. I am proud to be a board member of the Dude Ranch Foundation to help with the continuation of protecting and preserving the western way of life my family, my self and western enthusiasts everywhere hold so dear.
Carolyn Stimmel – Board Member
I have been involved in Dude Ranching for nearly fifty years; as a guest, employee, and as of recently an owner of the Red Rock Ranch in Kelly, Wyoming.
Remembering my families amazing stay at the Elbow Ranch as a child was like nothing I had experienced thus far in life. Little did I realize at that time how this first western experience would lead to many memories full of life’s lessons; connecting with horses, hospitality and family.
From being a guest to growing up and witnessing my family’s desire to develop Red Rock Ranch into a premier guest ranch has been a journey full of blessings, rich memories for myself, husband, Harley and our sons.
Connecting with people, and owning a property in the west was a driving force for David and Deborah MacKenzie in 1974 to own a ranch. My first employment opportunity arose at thirteen years of age when Ken Neal needed a Camp Cook. From pack-trips to wrangling, haying, guiding, irrigating and many other various ranch duties have provided me, with employment endeavors over the years. Harley and I have thoroughly enjoyed raising our four boys, at Red Rock which has given them ample character building opportunities.
Joining the D.R.A. Foundation and working towards solutions and partaking in an industry that is near and dear to my heart is an honor and a privilege.
Amanda Ferguson Esch – Chairman
Amanda Ferguson Esch comes from a long tradition of dude ranching, having been raised on the historic Eatons’ Ranch in Wolf, Wyoming. She is a passionate supporter of the dude ranching industry, and was a proud recipient of the Dude Rancher’s Educational Trust Scholarship. After living and working on the Ranch for many years, she currently lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband Luke and son Holden. She and her family try to make it back to the Ranch as often as possible. Amanda is a partner in the law firm of Davis & Cannon, LLP. She practices in the areas of general civil litigation, employment law, and natural resources, and deals with many other areas relevant to the dude ranching and recreational industry. She is excited to serve as the newest member of the Dude Rancher’s Educational Trust Board, and is committed to supporting and preserving the dude ranching industry.
Colleen Hodson – Authorized Agent
I am the Authorized Agent of The Dude Ranch Foundation. I have worked for the Foundation for over 19 years. I love the dude ranch industry and feel it is extremely important to protect and preserve its heritage. If you have any questions please, do not hesitate to contact me.