High Hope Ranch Founder Strives For “ We” Culture
High Hope Ranch, a 1,000-acre eco-retreat located on the northmost edge of Texas Hill Country, is dedicated to wildlife habitat protection through biodynamic principles. Guests can enjoy day hikes, workshops and educational activities, camp on the property or rent a vacation home.
Founded by Krystyna Jurzykowski and her late husband, Jim Jackson, High Hope Ranch shares lineage with neighboring Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. The couple was led to conversation efforts by asking themselves a common, thought-provoking question, “What do we want to do with our lives?”
She recalls, “We were both in the business world during the 70s and early 80s. We took time off to pursue a dream of sailing around the world. I'm a believer that if we listen and follow breadcrumbs, spirit leads us to where we need to be.” While sailing, that all-important question arose, leading the couple to long conversations about what they could do on behalf of nature and wildlife.
Jurzykowski was also influenced by an international background. Her parents escaped Poland in September 1939 just as Hitler’s army began invading the country, and they eventually emigrated to America. Her father later settled in Brazil, while her mother remained in the U.S. Jurzykowski speaks Polish, French, Portuguese and English, and her upbringing led to passionately advocating for diversity and seeing the natural and human worlds as one, rather than separate.
Jurzykowski and Jackson moved to Texas in 1988 and got involved with Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch, today known as Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a conservation center begun by Fort Worth businessman Tom Mantzel. “Glen Rose was a very different place then than it is today. Jim felt that if we could buy neighboring land, including the property that is now High Hope Ranch when it became available, that it would serve as protection for Fossil Rim and its mission,” Jurzykowski says.
The couple managed and led Fossil Rim during continued growth within the field of conservation and wildlife management. In 2008, Jurzykowski and Jackson passed Fossil Rim onto the nonprofit of the same name. Jurzykowski remains on their advisory council.
Building a Sustainable Getaway
The Ranch took on a life of its own. “High Hope has always been a place of hospitality and welcoming visitors and guests for workshops that connect our external ecology of habitat health to the human inner ecology—how we relate in nature and to the Earth,” Jurzykowski reflects.
Through High Hope Ranch, Jurzykowski strives to move from a “me” culture to a “we” culture, which includes making decisions on behalf of a larger whole that includes past, present and future generations, as well as regional and Texas state considerations.
High Hope Ranch's hospitality component includes four guests houses, each nestled in an area with a picturesque view of the forested hillsides. The guest houses are available for groups, families and individuals. Studio space is used for activities such as yoga classes, retreats and small group meetings.
An agricultural component of High Hope Ranch features a farm that produces meat, produce and flowers using biodynamic farming methods that include holistic, ecological and ethical approaches such as refraining from using synthetic chemical inputs and fertilizers. High Hope Ranch meats and produce, along with teas, tinctures and body care products made by farm staff, are available for purchase onsite or at The Farmacy Co-Op, in Glen Rose.
High Hope Ranch hosts like-minded groups, teachers and healers that use the space to lead classes and workshops. Approximately 20 miles of hiking trails offer guests a relaxing respite. The property also includes a labyrinth and a stone circle built in 2004 to serve as a place for prayer and to honor multiple traditions. “We are dedicated as a place to unity and diversity. Each stone represents a different tradition and how we make a larger whole together than individually,” Jurzykowski emphasizes.
As of July 1, 2022 High Hope Ranch became protected in perpetuity through Living Lands Trust, which supports sustainable culture, partnerships and alliances with the land and other organizations dedicated to conservation. High Hope Ranch also protects native grasses. Land management practices are dedicated to protecting endangered bird species, including the golden cheeked warbler.
Jurzykowski observes how overcoming division and judgement can propel human growth. “When we go into nature and see a thick tree and narrow tree next to one another, we don't judge that one is too fat. We accept the differences. But in our world today, difference is labeled as wrong. Our culture and mindset separate nature from the human species. But my mantra is that we all belong to one world. If we all take little steps on behalf of something bigger, it will coalesce into one big step to survive as a human species.”
The High Hope Harvest Festival takes place October 7, 14 and 21 as an opportunity for community members and local businesses to celebrate the end of the summer season with local vendors, food trucks, live music and kids’ activities.
High Hope Ranch is located at 3353 County Rd. 2009, in Glen Rose. For more information, call 817-776-2603 or visit HighHope.eco.