Read more about Arivaca Boys Ranch staff and therapists. - treatment for troubled teens and programs for troubled teens.

The Staff

Managing Director

Ron Searle, MBA, “Horse Whisperer”

Ron SearleRon lives on the ranch and oversees all of it’s operations. He tries to be personally involved with the boys as much as possible. Ron has 20 years of experience in youth education both as an instructor and a High School principal, and 10 years as a University Instructor at Arizona State University. He holds a bachelors degree in family financial counseling and a Masters in Business Administration from Arizona State. He has spent many years counseling and working with struggling youth. He has 30 years of horse experience and is a “Horse Whisperer.” He also has 20 plus years of working with young men in church-related and Boy Scout activities. He has served as a Varsity Scout Coach, a Venture Post Leader, and a Unit Commissioner for the Boy Scouts program. Ron’s desire to help young people, and his love of horses has led to the vision of the Arivaca Boys Ranch and Academy. Ron also is a licensed Arbinger Instructor and is committed to the Arbinger principles as a cultural basis for the ranch. Ron is dedicated to young people and their futures. Ron and his wife Peggy have eight children and are grandparents of seven.

Clinical Director

Debra Milner, RN, LCSW

Debra is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist and a registered nurse.  Debra brings to Arivaca Boys Ranch extensive experience in the mental health field, including private practice, residential treatment, clinical supervision and in training and education as well as consultation.  She believes in the healing potential of Arivaca Boys Ranch and the opportunity it offers to the boys and their families to achieve the personal growth that they are seeking.





Psychotherapy Director

Chris Wallace, Ph.D.

Trained in psychology and the clinical treatment of families, Chris has been a practicing, doctoral level Marriage & Family Therapist since 1990 and for twelve years, was the clinical director at ANASAZI Foundation, a nationally recognized youth treatment program in Mesa, Arizona utilizing the wilderness to bring about a change of heart in struggling youth and their families. Dr. Wallace is senior facilitator for the Arbinger Institute since 1993 and has been a teacher and consultant in the United States and Europe in many industries, including healthcare, military, government, aerospace, retailing, biotechnology, service and professional groups, and tele-communications, among others. Dr. Wallace also serves as a senior consultant for Arbinger’s Continuing Education Program.


Buirge S. Jones, M.A.

Buirge has worked in the social service field for over twenty years. Buirge started out working with disabled teens as a personal support coach, as well as, helping teens transition into supported independent living group homes. Buirge also has had a long history of working with young adults and children with autism, physical disabilities, and behavioral challenges. Buirge has run and managed several supported living group homes, and also was a director of social service organization called PKT enterprises. Buirge naturally gravitated to the therapeutic supports of social services, which led him to pursue a masters degree in psychotherapy at Naropa University. Since graduating, Buirge has counseled young adults transitioning into academia, ran several therapeutic support groups, and was the director of several community theater programs.

Dena Kay, M.A.

Dena worked for six years as a high school English teacher before receiving a Masters in Counseling at the University of Arizona in 1976. In the years since She has worked in various school settings in both Arizona and Colorado as well as being the designated Child and Adolescent Specialist at a Mental Health Center and a therapist at a youth center.  Her counseling philosophy draws primarily from the Alderian approach. She is somewhat eclectic in her approach, using techniques from cognitive behavior, family systems, and reality therapies including disputation, cognative restructuring and confidence building. Dena lives on a cattle ranch with her husband. 

Dave Jensen, M.A., MSW

For ten years Dave has been working with adolescents, young adults and the families that care for them. Dave has worked with youth and young adults in hospitals, outpatient clinics, group homes, wilderness therapy and now is proud to be associated with Arivaca Boys Ranch. Dave earned his BA in Religious Studies from Arizona State University with the intent to transition the skills and knowledge acquired there into his future counseling career; he went on to earn his Master of Social Work degree from New York University. His studies and training emphasized clinical intervention including, individual, family and group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and addictions counseling. He has a special interest in helping young adults face the challenges of their world and has seen that the decisions young people make now will shape them for years to come. Dave has worked with the Arbinger Institute for nine years and believes strongly that problems exist in relationships rather than in individuals, and that people have the fundamental ability to change their hearts and their lives. This philosophy informs his therapy as he emphasizes a strengths based and solution focused approach.

Jennifer Weiss, M.S., Equine Director, Family Relations

Jenn hails from Washington State and has worked with horses for over 14 years in both recreational riding and training using Natural Horsemanship principles. She received her Bachelors Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development from Brigham Young University where she was also fortunate to learn life-changing Arbinger principles. Jenn continued her study of Family Relations at Utah State University earning a Masters Degree in Family, Consumer, and Human Development. She has worked with college-aged youth dealing with substance abuse as well as suicidal tendencies. Jenn’s dream was to find a way to combine her study of family relationships with the therapeutic benefits of working with horses. She is passionate about what we can learn about ourselves, and the relationships dearest to us, by working with horses and is excited to be a part of the team at Arivaca Boys Ranch.

Tyler Hoyt, M.S., LMFT

Tyler has been at the ranch since May 2010. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Arizona. He, prior to working at Arivaca Ranch, came from a children’s outpatient 0 to 5 clinic where he did family therapy, play therapy, and much work with adoptive and foster families; he also worked with families attempting to rehabilitate and reunify with their children after being involved with Child Protective Services (CPS). Before that Tyler was trained in Functional Family Therapy (FFT), by James Alexander, and worked as an in-home interventionist of struggling teenage children and their families. He received his Masters of Science degree at Oklahoma State University’s accredited marriage and family therapy program. He was mentored under an esteemed couple’s researcher and clinician, and worked with couples who adopted children with special needs through the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. Tyler and his family live in the Tucson area.

Program Director

Matt Howard
Our program director Matt Howard calls the ranch home. He lives there with his wife Rachelle and their two young children Eli and Jonathan. The Howards share years of experience helping teens in wilderness therapy. Life long students of the Arbinger Institute it is their belief that lasting change comes only when a trusted friend makes an unassuming invitation to change. They hope to be such a friend to the boys at the ranch.

Matt received a Bachelor degree in English Language, and Rachelle a Masters degree in Marriage Family and Human Development. Matt takes care of the day-to-day operations of the ranch. Whether its planning the daily schedule, showing the ranch to guests, or driving the tractor he’s there to pitch in. Rachelle opens her home to the boys once a week where she teaches the boys a class about morality and values. Eli and Jonathan are “little brothers” to all the boys, proving a never ending source of love and admiration.The Howards delight at the opportunity to learn from and love each boy that comes to the Ranch.

Wrangler, Supervisor

Mary Fry, Certified Life Coach
Mary has worked at the Arivaca Boys Ranch since August 2011 as a Wrangler and Supervisor.  She has worked at another program that embraces Arbinger principles and has done aftercare work at that program as well.  She has been employed at another boys ranch, a wilderness program, several summer camps, and has had other various jobs with youth.  She loves working with youth and finds enjoyment in helping them transition into adulthood.  She is experienced with 12 step programs and is a Certified Life Coach as well. The Aftercare Services program that has been created here at the Arivaca Boys Ranch is to better serve you and your families in your transition home.  

Director of Food Services (Ranch Chef)

Jon Sharp
Jon Sharpe is our ranch chef. Hired as “the cook” but the quality of his cooking quickly promoted his title to “chef”. Jon has worked in many resorts in southern Arizona as a chef. Jon can often be found sharing bits of wisdom and encouragement with the boys as he serves up meals. A quiet example of honest living, Jon is liked and respected by all the boys. They show their respect by keeping Jon’s kitchen rules: no cussing in the kitchen, respect to elders, and dinner before dessert. Jon is also an accomplished carpenter and teaches a woodworking class twice a week.

Assistant Food Specialist

Chonchita Alverez
Conchita lives in Arivaca. She has work at the Post Office, Community Human Resources, and Carivaca (care center). Conchita loves the young men at the ranch as much as they love and respect her. She is a great asset to the program.





Staff (Wranglers)

Ricky Lyman

Ricky lives in Gilbert, AZ. He loves the outdoors, camping, and fishing. He loves to spend time with the boys camping, riding horses, and special activities. Ricky states,” I love to see the miracles unfold in these boys lives as they slowly change and become men of integrity.”



Jordan Mayberry

Jordan has studied at Eastern Arizona College and hopes to continue to become a high school teacher. He loves being a big brother to the young men at the ranch and sets a great example. He finds great satisfaction in seeing these young men change their lives and loves being a part of this transformation.




Chris Hoerner 

Chris is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He has a degree in Social Work and a Minor in Outdoor Education. He wants to be a flight nurse. Chris loves building relationships with each individual boy at the ranch.





KJ (Kevin Johnson)

KJ loves spending time at the ranch, working with horses and learning. He most loves developing relationships with the young men here and watching them grow.






Kyle Fuller

Kyle lives in Mesa. He is currently in a program training to be a “myropractor.” He likes being with the boys. He like the Arbinger principles, and he loves the ranch setting.






Jeff Hoskins

Jeff lives in Gilbert. He hopes to pursue a career in electrical engineering. Jeff loves watching how the ranch makes such a difference in young men’s lives.





Dan Wooten







Collin Perryman
Collin comes from California. He has a degrees from Arizona State University and is starting a PHD program in Montana in the fall. He hopes to become a therapist. Collin adds maturity and insight to our wrangler staff.

Scott Spencer

Scott wants to study architecture. He lives in Mesa. “I really like being able to see boys change for the better. It is an inspiration to me.”

Brennan Kartchner

Brennan attends the University of Arizona. He is majoring in Political Science. Brennan is an expert guitar player and currently plays in two bands. He shares his talents with the ranch and many boys are learning guitar. He is interested in a career in politics.

Austin Cazier

Austin attends school in Tucson where he lives. He is majoring in Developmental Psychology and interested in a career in education. He plays the drums and gives the boys drum lessons when he is on shift. The young men love Austin and he is a great example

Nathan Smith

Chris Bawden

Shawn Nichols

Ryker Kizzar

Stetson Kizzar

Jeremy Buehner


Arivaca Boys Ranch – General Partners and Board:

  • Ron Searle – Managing Partner
  • Carter Poulsen – CFO
  • Partners – Norm King, John Poulsen, Clif Pinckard

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Should you need help finding therapeutic boarding schools, or boys therapeutic boarding schools, or boys homes, let us know because we can help.

Arivaca Boys Ranch is a therapeutic ranch and home for boys providing troubled teens with responsibility, mentoring and counseling. Our home for boys serves troubled teens from in Texas, in California (CA), in Oregon and in Washington State on the West Coast and in Arizona, in New Mexico, in Oklahoma and in Nevada in the Southwest, from in Arkansas, in Kentucky, in Tennessee, in Missouri, in Louisiana, and in Mississippi, in Michigan, in Ohio, in Indiana and in Illinois in the Central States, from in Montana, in North Dakota, in Minnesota, and in Idaho in the north, and from in Georgia, in Florida, in Virginia, in New York, in North Carolina, in Pennsylvania, in Virginia, and in New Jersey along the and in the east coast.

The Staff at Arivaca Boys Ranch

Read more about Arivaca Boys Ranch staff and therapists.

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