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The Institute of Range and the American Mustang
Advisory Board & Staff 2022

The  Advisory Board will support the Executive Board in the areas of program development, resource development, fundraising and continue to build upon the foundation of Dayton O. Hyde’s vision for IRAM in perpetuity. 

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Melinda Kersten joined the staff of IRAM in January 2016.  With a degree in arts administration, Melinda has more than 30 years of experience as a non-profit leader focusing her efforts on fundraising, grant writing, community engagement, and project management.  Her career has been primarily based in northwest Indiana working with a variety of organizations that include at-risk youth education, community theatre, the regional arts council, environmental education, and early childhood education. It was Melinda’s curiosity of wild horse issues that prompted her to attend a meeting of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro National Advisory Board.  It was her passion to apply her skills to make a difference for wild horses that brought her to the Sanctuary. Melinda is the Sanctuary's Finance & Development Director.

Jason Rutz joined the sanctuary crew in 2017. He is a local Hot Springs resident, and an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. Jason brings his land experience having worked for the Oglala Sioux Tribal Land Office in helping to develop a GIS system for the 2.3 million acres that is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and having helped to develop integrated and agricultural resource management plans for the tribe. Born from horse people on both sides of his family, he is a lifelong horseman who also brings valuable horse knowledge to the table here at the Sanctuary.


He has apprenticed with legendary western horseman and employed the natural horsemanship techniques of Ray Hunt and his like for starting young horses under saddle in many western riding arenas. In twenty short years horses started under Jason’s saddle accumulated nearly $3 million in competitive earnings. Having sustained two leg injuries in 2013 he left his horse training career to return here to the Black Hills. He now finds himself on the other end of the horse world spectrum tending to and taking care of the unwanted and wild ones. Similar to Dayton O. Hyde, Jason attributes years of purpose and joy to the horses that carried him through his early life and now feels obligated to return the favor to our four-legged friends. He is the son of a Wyoming born Equine Veterinarian and a Nebraska Sandhills Horsewoman.  Jason is the Sanctuary’s Ranch Foreman.

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