When Koda came to the Ranch Campus at 16, he was so full of fight that the staff seriously considered discharging him early, for the safety of the other residents. “I had a whole bunch of anger problems,” he said. “It kind of ran in the family.” His early home life on a rural ranch had revolved around conflict with his mom and brothers. But fortunately it also instilled in him a fascination with horses and cowboy crafts. Koda credits the Ranch’s equine specialists with helping him understand for the first time that anger was something he had choices about.
“It took awhile,” he said. “but I learned that to be good at working with horses you have to keep a cool head, work with them patiently, keep your temper under control.” Koda also spent a lot of time in the Ranch crafts room, discovering a great talent and passion for the art of leather braiding.
As Koda began finding himself, he soon stopped picking on the other kids and began to excel at schoolwork, graduating high school with a 4.2 GPA. Koda spent two-and-a-half years at the Ranch, and made great use of our Reintegration Services and Graduate Assistance program, earning college scholarships. Thanks to a grant from IYR, he went on to study leather braiding “with some of the best in the world” and even had his work featured in a national magazine while he was only 18.
These days, Koda works full time training horses on a ranch in Wyoming. He visits his family in Idaho about once a month, and says that even though family relations aren’t always easy, “without the Ranch I’d probably still be getting in fights all the time, and I know I wouldn’t have any sort of relationship with my family.”
Two years ago, Koda visited the Ranch Campus to lead a leather braiding class for the kids there. We were proud to be able to tell the kids that this talented young man started his career at the Idaho Youth Ranch.