Kye Ferguson Feature
The wind howls as snow falls from the gloomy sky. Brief flashes of light shine in a 15 year-old boys face as cars pass him by on the lonely road. His task is to haul one ton bags, full of horse feed, onto the fork lift his boss is driving and get everything in the barn before the night is over.
His teeth quietly chatter as he waits for the lift to return. He wears two sweatshirts, jeans, work boots, and leather work gloves as he huddles around the bags for any ounce of extra warmth. After 3 hours, the job is finally over and they walk inside. A sinewy man laughs as he looks back at the boy seeing his visible pain from the cold. “Don’t you feel like you should be paying me for these experiences?”
The 9 months Kye Ferguson spent working under, Kevin Mclaws, at Zion Mountain Ranch forever shaped his perspective on life.
“I was so mad at him,” Ferguson said, “but that moment, in the snow, reminds me that if I can do that, I can do anything. I want to pay him back for those experiences because from that moment I decided to take on any opportunity.”
Ferguson started out working at the ranch as a shy and cautious kid, unsure of how to develop his talents and abilities.
“The only reason people choose not to do things is because of the temporary pain,” Ferguson said. “Kevin taught me to accept the pain because he knew I would have to go through it eventually. I found a new world of things I always wanted to do and essentially happiness for myself.”
Kevin Mclaws has worked at Zion Mountain Ranch for over 20 years as a successful businessman and takes on any opportunity to help boys become men.
“My role is to be a mean, abusive, and stern boss that also has a love and compassion for the welfare of their souls,” Mclaws said. “I made sure he knew what was what, up from down, and to take no crap.”
Rhonda and Brad Ferguson were left empty nesters as they came to see their son developing new qualities as he worked at the ranch.
“He loves to figure out how to make things work,” Rhonda said. “Kevin helped him develop independence and confidence by leaving the job up to him. He was also instrumental in setting goals to get him on a mission.”
Before serving missions, longtime friends, Pryce Seely and Ferguson worked together at the ranch for many months.
“One time, Kevin put me on a tractor and asked me if I knew how to drive it,” Seely said. “I told him I didn’t and he said ‘Okay, see you later.’ I learned how to drive a tractor in 10 minutes. He was big into letting us learn how to do things on our own.”
Mclaws’ tough love and unique life lessons gave equal opportunity for growth to all workers.
“The ranch affected us all in different ways,” Ferguson said. “Others chose to walk away and miss a great opportunity to learn from him. They came and went without having the stamp of “Kevin’s training” and now they are having a harder time learning those experiences on their own.”
Mclaws was unsure of his impact on with the workers because he knew he wasn’t the most popular guy around the ranch.
“You expect them to get a little upset with you, but some kids never get over that and they become childish men,” Mclaws said. “Others, like Kye, get over it as they start to see how those experiences were beneficial and make you mature. That crap sticks with you. No matter what he does going forward he’ll have a hardwired spine that will assist his outcome whatever the challenge may be.”
Although Ferguson will never physically repay Mclaws for the things he experienced, he has learned that application is key to true growth personally and in sharing it with others.
“It is a constant fight,” Ferguson said. “I am constantly trying to teach myself the things Kevin taught me and keep reapplying them. I want to help my friends overcome their addictions through changing their state of mind. I can only lay it out there. They have to take a chance on what I’m saying and figure it out for themselves.”
Change is just around the corner for those willing to work hard and utilize every opportunity they are given. The simple lessons taught by Kevin Mclaws changed Kye Ferguson’s life. Here’s to ignoring the pain, taking no crap, learning to be independent, and appreciating tough love.