Ranch Hosts assist with education programs and special projects at the NRHC. They help bring the NRHC to life by enhancing learning opportunities available to visitors who come from throughout the United States and many foreign countries.
Ranch Hosts may serve as building docents and as participants in living history and educational programs, special events and projects, or other volunteer capacities. Membership is open to persons who volunteer their services, complete required training programs and are certified by the NRHC staff to carry out specific functions.
Two regular membership meetings are held each year, one in the spring (mandatory for new Ranch Hosts) and one in the fall. Officers of the Ranch Hosts board also may arrange additional training classes, meetings and field trips. To become a member of our award-winning Ranch Host program, please fill out our application and check the box that indicates your interest in the Ranch Host program. A member of the Ranch Host board will contact you after your application is processed.
* Volunteers must be 18 or accompanied by an adult.
Richard and Kitty Umstot | YEARS OF SERVICE: 16
Barn dancing is what brought Richard and Kitty Umstot to the National Ranching Heritage Center in 2005, but the camaraderie and historical storytelling is what kept them here for 16 years as Ranch Hosts.
Barn dancing is a period dance related to the old fiddle tunes of the late 1880s. Tunes like “Put Your Little Foot” put the Umstots on a dance team that performed not only for their own pleasure but also for NRHC visitors. As the couple became more involved with the center, they began volunteering in the historic ranch structures.
Kitty especially liked standing in the breezeway of the Hedwig’s Hill Dogtrot House and telling visitors about the Martin family who immigrated from Germany and built the house in 1855- 56. The Martins wanted an education for their five children, so they hired a live-in teacher who stayed in the upstairs loft with the children.
Kitty is an expert seamstress who has not only made her own petticoats and aprons to wear as period clothing but also has made clothing for other volunteers.
As a retired educator, Richard enjoys using his retirement years to share history with NRHC visitors and keep them aware of our Western heritage. Dressed in a long black 19th century coat with a matching vest and white shirt, Richard says most people think he’s either a preacher or a gunslinger when he’s actually re-enacting the part of paymaster in the 1880 Matador Ranch Office.
When Richard is not in the Matador Office during Ranch Day, he usually can be found in the Pitchfork Cookhouse eating and playing cards with other Ranch Hosts during Candlelight at the Ranch. Switching from his black coat and pants to blue jeans, Richard and the other men depict early 20th century cowhands passing the time while one wife prepares food in the kitchen and Kitty sweeps the floor and decorates the Christmas tree.
As members of the Ranch Hosts Association, the couple attributes their comradery with other volunteers as a key factor in their continued service. “Candlelight is the best thing we have participated in,” Kitty says. Richard agrees and adds that Candlelight is “unique, fun and well-received by the community.”