Deputy’s call to action inspires ‘cowboy ethics’ class for kids

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  The “try” is never giving up. You may not be familiar with the term, but a group of third-graders are incorporating it into their daily routine, thanks to a local deputy’s call to action.

A sea of cowboy hats formed outside Los Rancho Elementary School, Friday.

Each was worn with pride, as these students know exactly why they were worn.

“You don’t wear it for fashion,” said third-grader Nichole Campos.

They also understand what the cattleman’s hat stood for.

“If you fall down, you just get back up and try it again,” explained Sedona Aragon.

It’s the real cowboy way, known simply as the “try”.

“It was the biggest compliment you could give a cowboy is to say, ‘he’s got try,'” explained Deputy Robin Hopkins.

It’s the underlying theme of a 10-week, self-empowerment program these cowboys and cowgirls just completed. “Code of the West” brings to life the timeless values of a simpler life.

“Be your word. Your handshake means something,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins is the Director of Public Safety for the Village of Los Ranchos and the program’s creator. She says overcoming hardship inspired “Code of the West”.

“My try, when I was injured– it saved my life. My never giving up saved my life. It gives me chills!” exclaimed Hopkins.

In 2013, Hopkins, then a full-time deputy with Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, was shot in the leg while going after Christopher Chase. Police say he shot at officers while he leading them on a dangerous pursuit through the city.

As part of her recovery, she visited a ranch for wounded vets. That’s where she discovered James Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics.

“There were ten principles in it and the next morning, I thought, ‘my call to action, my call to action. How can I make a difference?’ And I was like, ‘youth! Kids! That’s it!’ Every criminal, was a kid, was a third grader,” said Hopkins.

Each week, these third graders learned to live by a different principle. Yet, Hopkins says you have to see the kids in action to truly understand the program and its impact.

“You can just see it in their eyes! They’re like, wrapping their brains around that life and how hard work and never giving up was everything,” Hopkins explained.

Hopkins hopes to expand the program– in the future– into a summer camp and after-school program.

Teachers who helped lead the 10-week curriculum say it also helped students meet social studies and language arts standards.