JR Homestead School

The James Ranch Homestead School for Kids & Young Adults

Homestead School Contact:

local pork

Gunther Ott
(970) 749-7146
Email or Donate

Join us at the James Ranch to learn some of the most valuable and underrepresented skills in the modern day. We provide a healthy environment for kids to grow and express themselves in the outdoors. We will cover multiple topics related to agriculture including, but not limited to, gardening, working with farm animals: pigs, poultry and cattle, understanding and working symbiotically with our ecosystem, and cooking the crops we grow. We work hard, play hard, and see the tangible fruits of our labors, while acquiring lifelong skills.

Our students work in the garden, planning, planting, growing, and harvesting crops. The harvested crops are cooked and preserved in class or sent home with our students.

Animal husbandry:
We work with the animals on the ranch including chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, beef and dairy cattle. We learn to water, feed, house, and diagnose the animals happiness and health. We preserve and cook the products derived from the animals on the ranch in class.

We spend time in nature on and off the James Ranch gaining an appreciation for our local biome and an understanding of how to monitor its health. We design and implement projects to improve biodiversity and our understanding of ecosystem management.

Spring Homestead School Session:

Summer Homestead School Session:

We look forward to an exciting spring of learning, growth and good food.
We hope your family can join us on this adventure.


The James Ranch Homestead School Teachers:

Gunther Ott

Gunther Ott

I was born and raised on the James Ranch. My wonderful mother and father homeschooled me through 7th grade allowing me to have a deep connection to and appreciation of the land, the domestic animals, and our abundant wildlife. After high school, I took an internship with a ranch in Harlowton, Montana affiliated with the Savory Institute, and managed their herd of 4,000 yearlings for the summer. Upon completion of my internship in Montana, I had the urge to travel abroad and found a yearlong apprenticeship in Ranschbach, Germany on an organic vineyard. On my return to the States, I rekindled my passion for Biathlon and joined the Army National Guard to race on their team. I spent a year on the national team training in Vermont and took first in the National Guard's Western Regionals in Alaska. I love skiing and biathlon but, I realized that my love for animals was pulling me back to my family's ranch. I was hired to be the irrigator for the James Ranch and took over the Whey Good Pork business from my Uncle Dan, at this time I also started coaching for Durango Nordic. I irrigated the ranch for three years and ran Whey Good Pork for eight. In 2022 I founded the James Ranch Homestead School, a realization of all of my passions rolled into one. I now have the privilege of passing on my love of nature, agriculture, and cooking to the next generation and am beyond grateful everyday for this opportunity!

Mylie Lanier

Mylie Lanier

Mylie Lanier is a Durango native and a sophomore majoring in education at the University of Colorado Boulder. She recognized her passion for working with children at an early age and was active as a kid's coach with Durango Nordic and Durango Trail Runners, worked as a counselor at Durango Day Camp, mentored at Seed Studio, interned at elementary schools, and worked seasonally at Rapp Corral. Growing up in Durango, she developed a love and respect for the environment, an outdoor lifestyle, gardening, raising animals, and being an active community member.

Mylie is thrilled to be involved with the James Ranch Homestead School working with young students learning about sustainable agriculture, farm animals, and much more – on a family ranch that provides a model of excellence.