Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

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Ever since I was about five years old my parents took me to local Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquets. I never really understood what it was all about or anything but I loved to put my tickets into the raffles and try to win something usually a knife. But as I grew older and I myself started hunting I quickly caught on to the importance of these events.

RMEF Logo

All the money raised at these banquets goes to restoring and preserving our American wildlife. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the United States and has pioneered the art of rehabilitating wildlife to areas where they have been depleted. They have now successfully reintroduced elk to Kentucky, Virginia, and Arkansas and are now in the process of establishing elk here in Missouri.

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Not only am I a proud member of this organization but their banquets have become a family tradition that has brought me untold joy. Not only has my family ties strengthened but I have to say that I have won my share of the raffles. So now that I am old enough to start doing things on my own I have decided to give back to this organization by volunteering my time and services.

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I am now proud to have served my first Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet as a committee member. I got to help run some of my favorite raffles and help with the live auction. This year’s banquet has been one of the best banquets that I can remember. I think with this organization I have unlocked a lifelong passion and cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together in the future.

My Story of Inspiration

My stomach was churning as sweat dripped off my forehead. I was in Grand Island, Nebraska at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition and my team and I were nervously waiting for the announcers to announce the winning teams for muzzle loading. The announcers are working their way to first place and still we were waiting for our names to be called. Texas had won second place. There is a pause and we wonder if we have placed in the top ten. Then we hear, “And 1st place in muzzle loading goes to Missouri!”

Surprisingly my 4-H career began several years earlier with an Easter bunny. I wanted one so bad that when I was eight years old I was able to make a deal with my mom that if I could get a rabbit I would join 4-H. I started attending meetings and learning how to care for my rabbit. I was having a great time and making new friends as I started laying down a foundation for my future. I was thrilled to learn that I could show my rabbit in the county fair; however, before I could show I had to give a demonstration. I was shy and the idea of getting up in front of people was terrifying. I was able to do it and had a blast showing my rabbit and proudly displayed the blue ribbon we had won on my rabbit’s cage.

My experiences at the fair and seeing all the diverse projects people were doing inspired me to broaden my horizons. In my second year I added woodworking and bee keeping to my list of projects. In that fair I showed a jar of honey and a pair of gum ball machines I had made. In my third year, Dad had me sign up for shooting sports so that I could learn to shoot so I could hunt with him. I was now a big part of our club and was quickly learning to shed my shyness and have fun. It wasn’t until my fourth year however that I gained public notice in the fair. That year I began to work with leather and, along with showing a belt in the small exhibit building, began hand crafting and selling custom leather bracelets from my bench in the rabbit barn.

I would not be near the same person I am now if not for 4-H. Nowhere else could I have accomplished so much. This year I earned the title of Treasurer of our club and I have won Grand Champion Rabbit Meat Pen twice, helped Missouri win a national muzzle loading championship and state livestock judging contest, and have turned my leather working hobby into a small business. I have benefited from every aspect of 4-H; demonstrations and judging interviews have taught me how to control my shyness, working on projects have shown me the importance of detail and character, I learned professionalism and responsibility working with others in meetings, and participating in fairs and competitions have built up my self-esteem, self-image, and self-respect. It is my experiences through 4-H that has inspired me to be an agricultural teacher and spread ag-awareness and help oncoming generations broaden their horizons like 4-H has broadened mine.

Tumbl’n T Leather

Like many kids growing up in rural areas I was fascinated with John Wayne and western movies. I would sling my toy cap shooter along with the town marshal and round up the bad guys. My problem though was no matter how good my toy gun was I could never find a good holster. So several years later when I was starting to shoot real guns and had grown up quite a bit I decided to make my own. I had made a few other things out of leather, nothing much to brag about but I was determined to make this holster look nice.

holster

Three months later I had a finished holster dyed a nice saddle tan and beautifully engraved with a small basket weave pattern. It was a true holster ready for business and fit the gun it was sized for like a glove. I showed it off to anyone that would see and soon my art teacher was telling me I should enter it in a 3-D art contest. Well I won 1st place and the prize of $500, I was ecstatic. I used the money to buy more tools and supplies and started making more leather stuff like wallets and belts. It wasn’t long before I was selling belts to friends and starting to gather up a reputation.

Mini Saddle

That was how Tumbl’n T Leather started. I still do about the same thing as I was just making small things like wallets, belts, and purses. But now I’ve gathered the tools and experience to make all my products look as good as that first holster. I keep a small stock of premade wallets and phone cases on hand but most of my profit comes from custom making things for people. At fairs and art walks I am extremely popular for my custom bracelets. I can put names or phrases on a bracelet and add a barbwire or some other design around it to complete the look.

First Art Walk Booth

My childhood games have really paid off in turning into a lifelong passion. Even now that I am at college and barely have time I still try to fit some leatherworking in now and again and I’m still taking orders for custom work. I’ve also helped fire the same passion into one of my younger friends Blake Adams who is also joining the leather crafting world as Hanging A Leather. Together we are able to cross reference new patterns we draw up and manage big fair booths while both gaining knowledge and a small profit. However we both know that we are here doing leather work because deep down that is what we were meant to do.

A link to my Tumbl’n T Leather Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tumbln-T-Leather/150744521676106

Tumbl'n T Brand

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