- Staff -
Founder/ Executive Director: Savanah McCarty
Wild Souls Ranch was founded by Savanah McCarty in 2012. She was inspired and driven to help the local "at-risk" youth in her community from her own experience with horses as a child who endured life's difficulties at a young age. She has shaped and formed the Wild Souls Ranch program around the tasks that made an impact on her as a former at-risk youth, and shaped her into the adult she is today. Grooming, mucking stalls, ground work, riding, manners, respect, and loving and caring for the horses as their own are all things that Savanah instills in her kids at Wild Souls Ranch. Savanah has first-hand experience with the systems of Humboldt County as a former foster parent, Case Worker for the local Tribal Social Services Agency, and a former advocate and staff member of CASA of Humboldt. She is proud to still be a CASA Advocate of Humboldt County, and a member of her local Kiwanis Chapter. Savanah works dilegently for Wild Souls Ranch to become successful in the community so that more and more youth may experience the healing power and love from horses.
Operations Director: Dawn Watkins
Dawn has co-founded an all-volunteer organization that provides homeless women with alternative health care support, worked for several drug rehabilitation centers, and served as Program Director for Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, just to name a few. Dawn has most recently worked as Executive Director for The Multigenerational Center in Fortuna.
“I am so very excited about being a part of the Wild Souls Ranch Team as Operations Director. I had a lot happen to me when I was a young person, and my whole mission in life is to try to be the person I needed for others currently in need, combining my passion for working with families with my life-long crazy love of horses is really a dream and I'm grateful for the opportunity."
Dawn holds an MA in Pre-Med, Anatomy, and acupuncture. She has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit sector.
Staff Support Social Worker, MSW: Holly Scaglione
Holly Scaglione holds a Master's Degree in Social Work and has over 15 years experience working in the mental health and substance abuse field. Holly has been working with horses for 25 years and has been trained in Equine Assisted Growth and Learning by EAGALA as well as the OK Corral Series. She is a faculty member of the Department of Social Work at Humboldt State University and has been a practitioner of equine-assisted growth and learning since 2008.
Social Worker/Equine Specialist: Abby Samaniego
My name is Abby Samaniego and I have been riding horses of various disciplines for 14 years. I graduated from Humboldt State University with my bachelor’s degree in social work in 2016. I am currently the Assistant Service Director at a day program for adults with disabilities, but I have also worked with children in a school setting and have given horseback riding lessons to children and adults. My passion for helping humans and horses alike led me to become a part of Wild Souls Ranch, of which I am so grateful! Horses have been one of the most positive and influential parts of my life and I am so excited to help others experience the things that our equine friends are able to teach us. The best thing about horses is that they continue to teach us things about them and ourselves every day, and I would not be the person I am today without them. I know I will get to witness the same positive experiences through this program. Happy trails!
Development Director: Mariah Lewis
Mariah Lewis was born and raised in Fortuna, CA, and has been with Wild Souls Ranch from the start in 2012. Starting as the Program Coordinator, Mariah's passion for event planning and donor relations made the transition to Development Director a natural fit. Most recently, Mariah moved from being the live-in care taker at Hillcrest Stables, where WSR was previously ran, to broadening her horizons in Del Mar, CA. Though across the state, she still works tirelessly to put on Wild Souls' three main annual fundraising events and working remotely on the organization development. In her spare time, Mariah enjoys hiking with her boyfriend and dog, and soaking up the sun on the beach in Southern California.
Behaviorial Aide/ Transporter: Clare Edwards
Clare Edwards was born and raised in Humboldt County. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work with an emphasis in early childhood development from Humboldt State University. Clare’s passion for working alongside children began at a young age, and her love of horses began at birth. She spent time with them alongside her grandparents on their ranch in McKinleyville, learning the joy of caring for them. Through the department of social work at Humboldt State, Clare found Wild Souls Ranch and immediately fell in love with the work that was taking place in Humboldt County. As Clare continues to pursue her degree in social work, she hopes to work as a school social worker and impact the lives of children in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Equine Specialist: Christie Buckner
My name is Christie Buckner, and I've ridden and loved horses since I could walk. My parents competed in rodeos, and my fondest childhood memories revolve around horses. I have competed in rodeos since I was 4 years old, and now compete occasionally for fun. While attending college to become a Dental Hygienist, I worked for a reining trainer in Southern California. This is where I became a student of the horse, and greatly improved my skills for working with young horses. I now work as a Dental Hygienist, and enjoy working with our 5 horses we use on the cattle ranch and for rodeo events. I continue to work with various horse trainers, and I love how there is always more to learn when working with horses. I have been blessed with a loving and supportive family, yet I was a bit of an outcast during grade school. During these tough years, I clung to my horses for a sense of stability, kindness, and a judgement free zone. Wild Souls Ranch immediately caught my attention because I know personally how horses can be a refuge during tough times. Horses are kind, sensitive, and a direct reflection of yourself. The lessons they offer are priceless, and this program will continue to change these children's lives for the better.
Youth Mentor/ Ranch Hand: Madilyn Andersen (15 Years Old)
My name is Madilyn Andersen, and I have been a part of Wild Souls Ranch for over 3 years now. I started as a youth participant in the program, and now I have graduated and am a Youth Mentor volunteer for other kids and a paid Ranch Hand.
I came to the ranch not knowing what to expect, I knew nothing about horses. But after my first day I felt welcomed with open arms. Throughout my time at Wild Souls, I learned that the program is not about becoming a good horseback rider, it's about improving yourself as a person and working through your challenges with the help of horses. After just a few months I fell in love with the horses and started volunteering all of the free time that I had to help Savanah in any way that I could. I now want to help kids at Wild Souls Ranch the way that Savanah helped me. She accepted me for who I am and treated me like her family. She is always a shoulder to lean on, and she has taught me the love and respect she has for horses. I am so grateful to be able to come to Wild Souls Ranch!
-Board of Directors-
Brian Gonzalez- Branch Manager, US Bank Fortuna
Nathaniel Zwerdling- Attorney at Zwerdling Law Firm
Ruthie Jones- Realtor, Mikki Moves
Denys Vogt- Fortuna CA
Tiana Chamberlain- Fortuna, CA
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."