Gretchen Conwell, Equine & Animal Director
Gretchen was born and raised just outside the town of Bellingham, in beautiful Washington State. She got her first stinky little pony when she was 7 years old named Misty Blue. She and her pony competed in 4-H and local county shows competing in western games and equitation. Eventually Gretchen sold Misty Blue and started riding at a hunter/jumper barn throughout her school years. Gretchen was incredibly active in 4-H and FFA giving her the opportunity to start her progression of knowledge of Beef and Dairy Cattle, Pigs, and Sheep – as well as many other animals. After she graduated from High School she left for sunny Southern California where she attended the former Rawhide Ranch Vocational College, earning her AA degree in Animal Husbandry and Facility Management. She has been working at Rawhide Ranch in many capacities, finally landing in her current position as Animal & Horse Program Director in spring of 2008. She is married to her wonderful husband Bobby and proud mommy of Kadence who is the newest member of the Rawhide Ranch family.
DeeAnn Laird, Program Director
DeeAnn grew up here right here in southern CA. She first came to Rawhide Ranch as a senior in high school in response to a newspaper ad seeking summer counselors. She was given the opportunity at 17 years old to work weekends in the spring while the former owners kept an eye on her determining if she would be a good fit. As luck would have it, she past the test and fell in love with the Rawhide experience. She spent five life changing years at Rawhide working into a leadership role and during this time earned her AA at Riverside Community College. DeeAnn then moved to New Zealand for a short time where she worked as a child advocate in a battered women’s shelter. Upon returning to the United States, she earned her BA in Sociology from CA State University Fullerton. DeeAnn spent five years teaching third grade in a local private school. During this time, her life intersected with Rawhide once again in 2001 where she was given the opportunity to create the current CIT/LIT program with former Assistant Camp Director, Paul Tate. It is exciting to watch our CIT/LIT participants as they help to foster the same positive experiences they’ve had at camp with our campers. DeeAnn is also involved in human resources for the ranch and enjoys being part of the process that welcomes in new members to the Rawhide family. She is proud to be a part of such a unique place where she has met so many special people (young and old) over the years. Rawhide holds fond memories for many of us that have walked it’s dirt roads. It really is life changing!
Ellen Morrissey, Assistant Program Director
Ellen was born and raised in Insch Aberdeenshire in North East Scotland. She has a passion for sports and was competitive in cross country running. She also spent much time competing with her Shetland pony, Tuppence. In high school, Ellen played any sport she could and enjoyed fencing and netball the most. Ellen took a year off of school at the age of 18 to travel around Australia and New Zealand with the goal to try as many extreme sports as she could which included: white water rafting, sky diving, and caving. When her year of fun was over, she decided to further her education and attended the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow to study Sport and Physical Activity. Ellen first came to Rawhide Ranch in the Summer of 2010 as a counselor. She attended Rawhide while she was on her summer breaks where she helped teach our riding and vaulting classes. She also got time to work with our LITs and CITs and found her true calling. After graduating from university in 2012 Ellen moved to Rawhide and became a part of our full time staff team. Since her dad is American, she has no problems with staying with us year round. Ellen now spends her time at the ranch keeping busy as our Program Coordinator.
Jose Larios, Director of Facilities
Jose grew up in Jalisco, Mexico and moved to Escondido, CA with his family in 1992. Through some of his younger years in San Diego, he was able to work here at Rawhide Ranch under the original owners, Chown Quarter Horses. After he graduated from High School, Jose attended the University of Colima in Mexico, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Shortly after graduating from the University of Colima, he arrived back at Rawhide Ranch and started working as a part of the maintenance team. In 2006 Jose earned his current position as Maintenance Director, where he works incredibly hard with his team ensuring that the nuts and bolts of Rawhide Ranch remain in place and in working order.