Name: Tracy Heckert
About: Founder/Executive Director/President
Having been raised on the back of a horse in Washington, it was no secret to Tracy what spending time with horses can do for a kid. From an early age, she had a heart for orphans and at-risk youth, so it was natural to combine her desire to help them with rescuing horses. Her dream of a youth ranch where kids could come and heal with horses was born a couple of decades ago and only in 2009 did the plan begin to come together. Five years later, by the grace of God, Charis Youth Ranch has become a reality and each year more kids and horses are rescued and helped to heal. Tracy's career as a Real Estate Broker pays the bills and affords her additional opportunities to help people. She lives in Fort Collins and is mom to 5 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 1 granddog.
Name: Kelly Humphrey
Kelly would love to learn everything she can about caring for horses as she would like to own or lease one in the future. She has come to the right place! In February 2023, Kelly dove right in to the responsibilities of feeding and caring for our horses and also has started taking riding lessons. We are thrilled to have Kelly in our organization and are happy to give her the opportunity to learn.
Name: Shirley Kendrick
Shirley joined Charis in February 2023. She has owned horses for most of her life and has a gentle touch with our horses. She brings a wealth of experience to our organization. Shirley has a special place in her heart for rescued animals and is a valuable asset. We are so glad to have you, Shirley!
Name: Suzi Klaviter
Suzi learned about Charis from her neighbor, Kendra, who is a volunteer. She has volunteered in the past for therapeutic riding facilities and can bring her knowledge our Charis youths. She started with Charis in July 2023 and because of her extensive experience, she is greatly appreciated! Thank you, Suzi!
Name: Cathy Nelson
Cathy started with Charis when she moved here from Washington in April 2018. She had taken lessons for years and wanted to continue being around horses. She loves the feeling of peace at the ranch and gives her time willingly. Cathy serves the ranch in multiple capacities and wouldn't give it up for anything!
Name: Cecelia Granby
Cecelia has been with Charis since 2014. She has seen many changes with locations, horses, volunteers, responsibilities and anything that happens when being involved for so many years. Cecelia knows our horses well and takes excellent care of them.
Name: Greg Vaillancourt
Greg became a part of the Charis family in May, 2020. He has never owned a horse but thinks they are amazing creatures and wanted to learn more about their care. He says he understands the effect a horse can have on the well-being of a young person and wanted to become involved in the mission of Charis Youth Ranch. Thanks for being a part of our team, Greg!
Name: Herb Nelson
About: Webmaster/Facility/ Feeder
Herb is our go-to fixit guy! Even though he had never been around horses before, he has learned to appreciate and respect them. We can't convince him to ride, but we have made strides in that he will now groom them! We appreciate all that Herb does to keep the ranch running smoothly.
Name: Jeanne Petrillo
Jeanne moved from Massachusetts to Fort Collins in April, 2021. Having been a lifetime rider, horse owner and barn worker, she wanted to continue to care for and give back to the equine world in some capacity. Charis was a perfect fit for her. It also afforded her the chance to make good friends and establish contacts. Jeanne is the first to volunteer to take any open shift. We love you, Jeanne!
Name: Joanna Kruse
Joanna learned about Charis from our Facebook page and wanted to get involved for her daughter, Calli. Joanna and Calli joined the ranch in October, 2022. Joanna has been a quick learner and is always willing to fill in for shifts. It is a pleasure to have her and Calli at the barn.
Name: Katie Kessinger
Katie joined Charis in August 2021. We can always count on Katie to take shifts when needed. Her love of the horses shines through in how she interacts with them. Katie has a "can do" attitude no matter the task. Thank you Katie!
Name: Krista Miller
Krista has been involved with Charis since 2018. She has worked at all of the properties we have had horses on throughout the years. She had been intimidated by horses and wanted to learn about them. She has loved the interaction with the horses - feeding them is a real bonding experience. She and her son Noah, are an integral part of our feeding team. Thank you, Krista, for your years of service and support!
Name: Kendra Minch
Kendra started with Charis in April, 2023. She has been around horses throughout her life and wanted the peace and solitude that caring for them brings to her. Kendra is the first to offer to take a shift, volunteer for any odd job, participate in fundraising, check on our horses who may have a medical situation; the list goes on and on. Thank you for your selfless service, Kendra!
Name: Lesly McRae
Lesly joined our volunteers when her daughter, Piper, completed an application to be a junior volunteer in October 2022. Lesly is one of the first to volunteer to fill in for a shift when asked. She takes excellent care of the horses and hangs around after her shift to watch Piper take her riding lesson. Thank you, Lesly, for being a part of our team!
Name: Lori Castorena
Lori and her daughter Rileigh joined the ranch in October 2021. Lori is the first to volunteer whenever we need extra help. She recognizes the financial needs for caring for the horses and willingly gives her time to help plan and implement fundraising efforts. We can not continue to care for our horses without dedicated volunteers like Lori!
Name: Lucia Ginten
About: Fundraising/Admin/ Feeder
Lucia moved here from Germany and was missing her old work, which was pretty similar to what we do at the ranch: working with kids and horses. She has been with Charis since June 2014. She loves that she can work with all types of horses, do ranch work and be outside because it brings her peace. She loves the smiles that those horses put on all those kids faces during the summer, because she knows they can feel that peace too (even if it's just for a little while). She says, "I love how much happiness these horses put into those little hearts." Because of Lucia's extensive experience, she has been essential in the care of horses. We couldn't do it without her!
Name: Maureen Maguire
Maureen joined the ranch in January 2022. She had recently moved from New Jersey where she had been involved with horses for years. She loves the idea of rescued horses and the fact that her involvement directly impacts the welfare of our horses. She is always willing to help in any capacity. With her experience with horses, she is a valuable member of our team. Thanks, Maureen for all you do!
Name: Meghan Griffin
Meghan became a member of our team in October 2022 when her daughter, Arabelle, asked to volunteer with horses. Meghan has been around horses, but didn't know much about their care. She was looking for a place where she could feel the calmness that horses bring. She also likes being involved in a community of horse lovers. Hoping to adopt a horse in the future, she has learned much since she started and we are thrilled she has chosen Charis!
Name: Nicole Oleski
Nicole and her daughters have been members of the Charis community since 2016. Her daughters have been junior volunteers and Nicole has stepped up and become a valued adult volunteer. She has always been more than dependable, loves ALL the horses and is a joy to work with. The ranch would not be the same place without Nicole! We love you!
Name: Rachel Fousek
Rachel has been a volunteer for Charis for years! She has been at each location where we have had our horses and has stories to tell about ones long gone. Rachel will show up in the hottest of summer days to the most frigid of winter nights. Rachel is indeed the quintessential Charis volunteer! Thank you, Rachel, for your years of kindness to our horses.
Name: Tiffini Harris
Tiffini has been involved with the ranch since November 2018. She and her family have been active in the ranch from volunteering for feeding shifts, always showing up for clean-up days, and having her daughter Hannah join the junior volunteer program. She says, "volunteering at the ranch has taught us that all living things deserve their own place in this world, resilience, patience, determination, grit and responsibility to other living things besides ourselves. Within the serenity of the property, we have also learned self reliance and creativity and to take a moment and appreciate just being alive and the beauty of the moment." She embodies that it's better to give then to receive. Thank you Tiffini!
Name: Trisha Swift
About: Riding Instructor/Barn owner/Feeder/Fundraising
Name: Anna Oleski
About: Anna started in the spring of 2020. Her sister, Hope, had been a junior volunteer and she loved coming to ranch and being around the horses. Anna gained confidence being with the horses and learning how to care for them. She says, "I love the ranch because I love how Tracy saves all of these horses and I love how it's like a retirement for them!"
Name: Arabelle Griffin
About: Arabelle has experience with horses and horse care and wanted to join an organization where she could volunteer. She joined Charis in October 2022. She is a hard worker and truly loves all the horses. She is hoping to adopt her own horse one day and will be a dedicated owner.
Name: Celia Kruse
About: Celia had been to some horse camps and she wanted to learn more about the care of horses. Her mom, Joanna, discovered Charis Youth Ranch on Facebook in October 2022 and contacted us about having Celia join our junior volunteer program. We love that Celia and her mom are involved with the ranch and hope to have Celia stay involved for many years!
Name: Emma Cookman
About: "I love the ranch because of the horses (of course) and because of the incredible friendships and relationships I’ve been able to forge through the programs. Since I started working with the horses, I’ve had decreases in my anxiety, it gives me something to get my mind off of things. When they say “Broken horses healing broken children” they really mean it!!! Being around these gentle giants is such a privilege, I am so grateful for every horse at the ranch. They each have unique personalities and quirks, and it’s been great to get to know each horse on such a deep level."
Name: Hope Harris
About: "Charis ranch means so much to me, it helps me open up to not only horses but all kinds of situations and relationships that I had no idea existed. I have made so many friends and amazing people just through the ranch! When I was a little girl I wanted a horse and when I joined the Charis ranch youth program in November 2018 I was able to make my dream come true! I’ve been able to learn so many things about horses and how to take care of them! Charis ranch has made my dreams come true and has been a huge learning experience for me! Thank you for everything Charis!"
Name: Hope Oleski
About: "I started in 2016. What I love about the ranch is the people and how loving and supportive everyone is. The ranch has helped me with my anxiety by showing me that I am loud enough and assertive enough to make people listen to me. The horses have contributed to that by yielding to me and listening to my instruction which makes me feel capable, reliable and ready to lead my horse every step of the way."
Name: Jayda Carroll
About: Jayda learned about Charis by doing a Google search in October 2022. She was looking for a volunteer opportunity to work with horses and to hopefully ride. Charis was the right fit for her. She and her mom, Calli, are invaluable members of our team and Jayda gets to work with horses AND ride!
Name: Piper McRae
About: In October 2022, Piper was looking for a volunteer opportunity working with horses because she felt like it was the next best thing to owning her own horse. She said, "I want to learn a lot about horse care and management as well as help horses in need." Piper, you came to the right place and we are so glad you did! Piper is a working student in the summer for Trisha Swift and brings that knowledge to care for our horses. As a bonus, her mom is learning from her!
Name: Rileigh Tibbs
About: "Before I joined Charis, I was bullied a lot and my mental health got really bad. But being around the horses has truly brought me a lot of peace in mind and are definitely the reason I am here today with the people and animals that I love. They have made me a completely different person with my mentality and I couldn't thank them enough." Rileigh has been with the ranch since October 2021.