Our Whetstone Family

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Jeremy Thompson

Executive Director

Jeremy is a cofounder and the Executive Director of Whetstone Boys Ranch. Jeremy has been pursuing the vision of Whetstone Boys Ranch since 2001. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management over 20 years of diverse experience working with teens.  He has worked as a Direct Care Staff at several Residential Treatment Centers. Most recently he has worked as a Deputy Juvenile Officer. He has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. In addition he has volunteered and served as a Young Life Leader, Youth Group Leader, Camp Counselor and served homeless teens and young adults with the Dry Bones ministry. Jeremy is a certified trainer of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. Jeremy is originally from Michigan. He currently resides with his wife of 10 years, Cari and their black lab named Scout in West Plains, Missouri. Jeremy and Cari frequently pursue adventures in the outdoors like canoeing, fishing, and hiking. They also enjoy traveling, gardening, beekeeping and raising cows and chickens.

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Matt Foster

Program Director/Counselor

Matt has been involved in the business of making men since his tenure at Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in 2004.   His experience there inspired him to pursue a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, which he completed at Harding University in 2010.  Before and after graduation, he worked at Capstone Treatment Center in Searcy, AR – a residential treatment center for adolescent males struggling with addiction.   During his 3 years at Capstone, he worked with families across the nation, to restore and rebuild broken relationships.   As Program Director, Matt helps foster a therapeutic environment that supports families in their on-going efforts of reconciliation, renewal and healing. Matt and his wife Jessica joined Whetstone in the fall of 2013, and added a baby girl to their family in 2016.  Matt enjoys all manner of outdoor activity, including but not limited to:  predator hunting, trout-fishing, staring contests with big-horned sheep, photography, canoeing uncharted waters, and communing with just about any kind of nature. He also really likes Will Ferrell.

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Axel Liimatta

Headmaster/Teacher

Axel has 20 years of classroom experience since 1997. During that time, he has taught everything from remedial freshman English in the inner-city, to AP Senior English in both private and gifted settings.  He has state certification to teach English, Social Studies, Speech, Drama and Debate, in grades 6-12.  He is most proud of coaching Speech and Debate teams that have placed highly in both state and international competitions. In addition to this, he has enjoyed coaching basketball and golf at various points over the years. He has Master’s Degree in Secondary Education, and in 2007, he became a National Board Certified Teacher of English.  Axel and his wife Christine  have been married for 20 years and have 4 children.  Originally from Pontiac, MI, Axel is a Detroit Tigers fan who enjoys dating his wife, collecting vinyl records and baseball cards, writing poetry, and taking pictures of his kids during outdoor excursions.

IMG_9317 Brandon Maxwell

Director of Development

Brandon is a co-founder of Whetstone Boys Ranch and currently serves as Whetstone’s Director of Development, in charge of overall program development/sustainability, along with overseeing our Woodworking program.  He graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor’s in Construction Engineering Technology. He officially joined the Whetstone team in 2002 and has been working with at-risk youth since then. He and his wife Laura have been married for 11 years and have four children.

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Brook Erickson

Mentoring Specialist

Brook grew up on a farm in Minnesota, where he and his family raised alfalfa hay, beef cows and 300 dairy goats.  In the winter of 2013, he took a job in Missouri as manager of an organic dairy farm.  After sustaining a major back injury in a farming accident and the loss of a close personal friend, he began looking inward to understand some of the deep hurts from his childhood, taking an honest look at how they were affecting his life. Through these experiences and trying times, Brook faced a dark battle that he never knew existed.  However, he sensed that God walked with him every step of the way; and though he despaired at times, he now sees that God was opening his eyes to the pain and suffering of others, as well equipping him to enter into their lives at a more meaningful level. In February of 2016, at a Farm Beginnings Conference in West Plains Missouri, he met Brandon, Ty and Jeremy.  The rest is history.  Brook loves to pour into the boys who come through our doors, sharing his passion for animals, farming, music – and most of all, his love for the Lord.

Bob and Grace

Bob and Grace Evans

House Parents

Shortly after marrying in 2002, God had planted a seed in Bob and Grace’s heart….a desire to serve as house parents one day.  On January 1st 2017 that desire came to pass as they began their ministry at Whetstone.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Bob has an AAS in Photography Technology and completed the “Year in the Son” program at Elim Bible Institute in Lima, New York. Prior to coming to Whetstone he was a head custodian for 14 years at an elementary school. His job was stable and secure, but he felt dissatisfied, and his heart longed for more.  God had begun stirring his heart for at-risk youth and he pursued that calling.  He is a diehard NY Giants fan, enjoys playing the guitar, fishing, spending time with family, walking in the woods, and playing with his family’s dogs, Joey and Daisy.  He loves teaching new things, encouraging new experiences, and making others laugh.

Grace was also born and raised in NJ.  She grew up in a broken and abusive home, experiencing much pain and loss.  In her latter teen years, after rededicating her life to the Lord, she began going through intense healing and felt called to attend Bible school for equipping to serve others. From 1994-1998, she attended Zion Bible Institute in Barrington, Rhode Island, (currently known as Northpoint Bible College) studying  Ministerial Leadership, and she received her Bachelor’s degree in Theology.  She remained on staff at the college for 2 years as the Food Service/Kitchen Manager.  Prior to coming to Whetstone, Grace was a teacher’s aide for 3 years in a behaviorally disabled elementary classroom.  She enjoys music, reading, cooking, baking and cake decorating, horses, spending time with her family, being outdoors, and fishing.  She absolutely loves drinking coffee.  She hopes that someone will build a Dunkin Donuts close to Whetstone.

Bob and Grace feel blessed and honored to serve at Whetstone. They have embraced the country life and are thrilled to raise their 2 girls in the beautiful Ozarks of Missouri.

Board of Directors

Rob Stauffer, West Plains, MO                 Chrys Fisher, Esq.  West Plains, MO
Stacy Falkenrath, West Plains, MO
Gina Degenhart, Evansville, IN
Wilma Eubank, Amarillo, TX
John Bailey, Willow Springs, MO              Dr. Rick Holloway, West Plains, MO