The Ranch Review – Winter 2020

Click here to download the Winter 2020 newsletter, The Ranch Review.

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The Ranch Review – Winter 2019

Click here to download the Winter 2019 newsletter, The Ranch Review.

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The Ranch Review-Winter 2016

Click here to download the Winter 2016 newsletter, The Ranch Review.

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The Ranch Review-Winter 2015

Click here to download the Winter 2015 newsletter, The Ranch Review.

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The Ranch Review-Winter 2014

Click here to download the Winter 2014 newsletter, The Ranch Review. Within the newsletter you will also be able to link to a short video of Marv’s graduation ceremony. Congratulations to Marvin for your achievement!

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“Hope and a Future” letter

July 4, 2012 –

Dear Friend,

Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch will host a benefit dinner to “ESTABLISH THE VISION for Hope and a Future. Founded by Marvin and Jan Neal, Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch is a local, non-profit, faith-based organization whose vision is to “Rescue, Redeem, and Restore Young Lives.” The event will be held at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa – Reno on Friday November 9, 2012. Our special guest speaker will be Mr. Stedman Graham, a New York Times best-selling author, educator, businessman, and motivational speaker.

Our event will include dinner, an inspiring presentation from Stedman Graham, the history of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch, a panel of local youth who will be sharing their dreams and desires and how that pairs with the mission of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch. You’ll have an opportunity to meet the co-founders and board members.

We are planning on 500+ people in attendance. We would like you to consider becoming a corporate or individual partner to help us underwrite the event. Enclosed in this packet of information are our partnership levels. You can learn more about Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch by visiting our website at

Our theme for the night: “Hope and a Future.” Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch hopes to raise more than enough money to put the first home in place and improve the infrastructure. You can help us meet this goal!

Thank you in advance for your best consideration.

Marvin C. Neal, President

Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch

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Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch Update

What a ride! – how things work and evolve in God’s economy is always a surprise. As we’ve been praying and seeking and praying and seeking…well you get the picture; a wonderful opportunity has come our way – one that we have taken advantage of – it allows us to continue to work with youth after they have been released from detention programs, and as the word spreads will include any local youth who wishes to attend.

A Voice in the Wilderness Church, one of our Church Partnerships, wholeheartedly embraces the vision and mission of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch and having come upon this space and moved its church to these facilities and desired to generously and graciously share the abundance of space with us.

They have contributed about 2500 square feet of operating space to allow us to be able to follow-up with youth that have been released from incarceration from Jan Evans Juvenile Justice system and other youth in our local community. We are currently developing a relationship with the leadership at Calienti who desire to provide information regarding these facilities to their youth upon their release back to the Reno/Sparks areas.

These youth are welcome to participate and grow under the mentoring/pastoring guidance of Chaplain Marvin Neal. The space includes a room for church and worship services, a recreation area (currently housing game tables, foosball, table hockey, TV/DVD, an area for small group meetings, kitchen facilities, storage and last, but not least an office for Marv that serves as the official in-town business office for Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch. We have been fortunate to furnish these facilities entirely by generous donations from the community. We have named the ministry “On The Edge Youth Ministries” an outreach ministry of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch.

The physical address is: 513 E Second Street, Reno, next to the Reno Police Station.

The second bit of news deals with SNTR and our ‘Help Us Build” campaign. With the economy the way it is, we are not generating the revenue we had hoped for, nor expected; therefore, we voted to look at leasing property in an effort to start serving youth sooner rather than later.

Leasing property has several positive elements which we’ve come to realize:

  1. As the requirements of the special use permit are so financially cumbersome, especially providing the road development, alternative energy and the engineering, process for the foundation, etc., developing a group home on leased established property will allow us to become operational much sooner than holding out to raise the necessary funds to develop on the Ranch site.
  2. We have also found it necessary to be “up and running” for most grants and foundations to provide financial support or funding for capital expenses – they want a proven history.

In summary, our current direction is to secure property and housing that will meet the needs of a “group” home, in a rural area, thus retaining our ranch theme and programs and allowing us to start serving our youth and gain “established equity” towards the further development of the Ranch on the Ranch site; i.e., a proven history. Additionally, it’s much easier (financially & regulation-wise) to establish a “group” home than it is following the regulations of the Special Use Permit as it relates to the current Ranch property. All considered, we believe this is our best course of action.

This has been a very hard decision for me and for our board as it feels a bit like we are giving up on God for the “big financial miracle” – yet we have come to see this opportunity, weigh our current situation, factor in the tough economy and it seems like a God directed and very wise course of action. .

Please keep us in your prayers; that we would be functioning in the center of God’s will and thus bless our leasing efforts.

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County officials allow faith-based residential school

During Tuesday’s Washoe County Commission meeting, Jan and Marvin Neal discuss their plans for the Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch, a faith-based school for teenagers in need of a secure environment, which they plan to develop east of Red Rock and north of Reno. (KRISTIN LARSEN/RENO GAZETTE-JOUR/RENO GAZETTE-JOUR)

The opinion of the RGJ Editorial Board:

Washoe County commissioners made the right decision to approve the special use permit for a faith-based school for at-risk teens at Bedell Flat north of Reno and near Red Rock.

The Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch, envisioned at least since 2003 as a safe haven for troubled youths where they can learn to head off problem behavior, is a worthy and socially affirming effort. Early in the planning, area residents misunderstood the nature of the ranch, thinking it a detention facility of some kind. Or a strictly for-profit enterprise. Instead, it is an altruistic faith-based project by people who believe it is necessary to help.

It is unfortunate that property owners did everything they could to derail this project. They cited safety hazards, environmental impacts, decreased property values, zoning concerns and traffic problems. As it turns out, their concerns largely are misplaced.

Most people who spoke at the hearing recognized the community’s need for such a program. Much of the opposition is outweighed by the ranch’s purpose and Washoe County’s need. It might be true that the school is located in the way of a wildlife migratory path. In that case, concern is understandable. Opposition to the location on other grounds — traffic, disturbing the peace and teen safety — is not. The school is isolated, presenting an opportunity to escape troubling influences. Interaction with wildlife will teach kids about the natural environment. The school will occupy a 29-acre parcel at the end of a 16-mile-long road, 20 miles from the nearest development. It has been reported that neighbors more than two miles away will not be affected. Any argument about disturbance seems unreasonable.

The administrators have met every permitting condition attached to the project with particular attention to ensuring safety. The property will have a helicopter landing area, a licensed emergency medical technician and snow removal equipment. They have agreed to upgrade the road from dirt to compacted gravel.

Continued opposition and the slim margin of approval in the commission chamber make it clear that the project administrators have a long way to go to earn acceptance. Their best chance for success is to reach into the community, to become involved and to show the community what they’re about.

They need people to understand their mission. Those who do understand should continue their support.

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President’s Perspective

Our Beginning

We’ve come a long way since our beginning in Winter 2001 when I received what I understood to be God’s confirmation that he wanted me to build a teen ranch for at-risk youth in our area. After hearing me share the dream during a church service at Wittenberg Hall, a local businessman gave seed money saying that he wanted to be apart of the vision. That began a quest for gathering information; and after visiting faith-based teen ranches in California, we decided to model Valley Teen Ranch in Madera, CA. Connie Clendenan, CEO of Valley Teen Ranch, and her board have provided invaluable assistance.

January 2002

The name of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch was decided upon by my wife, Jan and myself. Jan developed our mini-mission statement of “Rescue, Redeem, and Restore Young Lives”. What an inspiration.

March 2002

We filed our Nonprofit Article of Incorporation and By Laws with the State of Nevada, and received our Corporate Charter the following month.

December 2002

We filed an application for 501© 3 (tax-exempt) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After months of additional questions from the IRS, and answers from us, we received our tax-exempt status. While working toward our legal status as a non-profit tax-exempt organization, we started conducting fund raising and sharing the vision.

February 2003

We held our first major fundraiser (“Cast the Vision”) at the Atlantis Casino Resort with Napoleon Kaufman as our keynote speaker, Mike Alger, emcee, and guest speaker, Connie Clendenan from Valley Teen Ranch. The evening was great fun and a huge success.

Summer 2003

We made an offer to purchase 80 acres in Palomino Valley and met with heavy opposition from valley residents. Although this slowed us down (as we waited to see how God would direct us in that situation – remember our March 2005 Newsletter, it did not stop us.

Summer 2005

Robert George, real estate broker and developer of most of the land in the Red Rock and Rancho Haven area had been closely following the newspaper articles in RGJ about the unwarranted opposition by the Palomino Valley residents with great interest. In his own words, “The Lord put it on my heart to find a place that would be large enough for you and where you would not have the problems you are now facing.” Bob (Robert), went on to tell me that he had what he believed was a perfect place and asked if he could show it to me. Well, in my mind these were the “marching orders” I had been waiting so long for. Today we own the property, free and clear, paying only a fraction of what the Palomino property would have cost. We have no immediate neighbors, in fact, we are surrounded on all sides by over 40,000 acres of BLM land.

January 2006

Having purchased the land on faith, we needed to now make sure that we could build the Ranch in it’s entirety on that land. Inadequate water and proper zoning became an issue. I met with Washoe County zoning officials on and off throughout the year and filed an application to appropriate public waters with the State of Nevada.

October 2006 – Ranch Location Approved

We heard from Mike Harper, planning manager for Washoe County Department of Community Development, that he had received word from their legal adviser that our land is located in an area which is zoned for ranches such as what we propose to build. We have the legal go-ahead!

November 2006 – SNTR Water Rights Approved

After a long wait we were permitted enough water to do everything necessary for the building and operation of the Ranch. It took 11 months, but it was well worth the wait for I am told that if we would have had to buy the water rights it would cost between $100,000 and $200,000. We spent only $900 on licensed water surveyor, application and permit fees.

SNTR Meets BBB Standards

Along the way, we were admitted to the Reno Better Business Bureau and they issued a statement certifying that Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch meets their standard(s) for a charitable organization. We completed extensive paperwork and personal interviews regarding our legal status, financial record keeping, and business plans and operation.

Do I hear a few praise God’s out there – well, you sure hear them in my house!

Posted in Newletters, News, Winter 2006 | Leave a comment

Strategic Planning

No, it was not an arts and crafts workshop, it was a strategic planning session facilitated by Michael Havercamp, PhD, UNR Professor, College of Cooperative Extension and a state specialist in group facilitation, mediation, and consultation. He has problem solved for organizations in Afghanistan, Belize, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Serbia. He is a published author and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Thornton Peace Prize from the University of Nevada, Reno. We are very fortunate to have Mike’s support and commitment to help Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch become a reality.

Regardless of the results of our strategic planning, it was good to know that our goals and plans have varied little since the beginning. And with Mike’s creative ways, we reestablished and reconfirmed the vision, mission, goals, and plans.

To summarize, our vision is to Rescue, Redeem and Restore Young Lives. Our plan is to provide our local at-risk youth with the opportunity for personal and spiritual development in a ranch-type setting. Phase I of the Ranch’s development included developing the board of directors, acquiring our state nonprofit status and federal charitable 501(C)(3) status and the purchase of land. Having done so, we are now in Phase II – which starts with land preparation, special use permits, and then let the building begin!

Our goals are still four ranch homes housing 10 youth each, along with staff and house parents. Additionally, we’ll have a multipurpose/gym/chapel, educational/vocational building, athletic fields, ropes course, equestrian center, gardening, a few chickens, cows, beekeeping, etc. Included in our personal development programs will be gang intervention, anger management, and leadership training. Our educational schooling and vocational programs will be onsite. Spiritual development continues to remain the main theme, along with a variety of recreational and artistic programs. Development will continue in phases as the funds are made available. The purchase price for the 30 acres was $38,000 leaving us about $67,000 toward land development and the building of the first home. All donations are tax deductible. To find out more about the many ways you can help us, click here to be directed to our donations page. There you will find a list of various ways to donate as well as a button to donate directly from our website

After the home(s) are built and the teens settled, placement fees received will significantly reduce our financial needs. Our goal is to build Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch debt free, allowing for more activities and programs.

Our heartfelt thanks to the Boys and Girls Club for selling us the land at such a generous discount.

Posted in Newletters, News, Winter 2005 | Leave a comment