McCrossan Boys Ranch has an Independent Living Preparation Program available to those boys who meet the criteria (ages 17-21). In these on-campus apartments the boys learn skills to become independent, with emphasis on job placement and higher education assistance. Eric Leggett is an example of how successful this program can be if you accept the help offered to you and take advantage of the opportunities you are given.
At the age of 17, Eric came to the Ranch and was a resident there from January-November of 2009. He was placed there due to family and mental health issues. While at the Ranch, Eric kept a steady job at the Flying J and also received his high school diploma from the McCrossan School.
During his year spent at McCrossan Boys Ranch, Eric was active playing basketball for the Ranch team. Highlights from his time with the team were winning two championships at the YMCA and getting a chance to play for Coach Bennett. Coach Bennett said, “Eric had a lot of heart and was a great team player.”
While at the Ranch, Eric remembered feeling a sense of community. He soon realized that the staff were there to help the boys, and Eric loved how they took pride in the boys succeeding and doing well. The biggest thing he felt the Ranch taught him was accountability, something that will stay with him for the rest of his life. When asked what helped change his life, Eric said it wasn’t so much specific things but a person that really made a difference in his life. Eric’s therapist while he was at the Ranch made a huge impact on his life. She continued to be a positive influence for Eric as they stayed in contact after Eric left the Ranch to make sure he stayed on the right track.
After graduating from the Ranch, Eric used his skills learned in the Independent Living Program to get an apartment in Sioux Falls and live on his own. Eric was approved for a Ranch scholarship to go onto higher education. He began at Killian Community College where he received some of his general credits and then went on to attend the University of Sioux Falls where he is currently a senior and double majoring in Economics and Political Science. He took a brief break from school to run for State House and unfortunately lost by only 100 votes. His plan is to graduate from USF and either go to law school or run for State House again.
Eric’s pride and joy are his wife and son Liam who is two years old. Eric and his wife have been happily married for three years and were together during his time at the Ranch. When Eric isn’t busy with school, you can find him hanging out with his wife and son, reading or fishing.
Eric’s advice to boys at McCrossan Boys Ranch is to take your education seriously. Also, after finishing your time at the Ranch, hang out with people that want to do something with their lives. He says surrounding yourself with positive influences will help you succeed and stay on the right track.
We are very proud of Eric’s accomplishments and are glad he shared his story with us. If you are an alumni or know someone who is and would like to be featured in the Courier, please call Christy Menning at (605) 339-1203.