The Western Heritage Foundation Club at Timber Creek has recently been the talk of the town. The club is a branch of a much bigger organization that was created to promote and preserve the sport of rodeo and agricultural science. The WHF club’s rodeo team has been featured in the Star Telegram, made the cover and a 3 page story in K Magazine, rode in the Fort Worth Stock Show Parade and at the Grand Entry at two of the Pro Rodeos all in the last month.
The Western Heritage Foundation club was first started back in 2012 by four Timber Creek students and Timber Creek parent, John Yeatts. With very limited opportunity to Rodeo and participate in other agriculture-related activities, graduates of 2014 Brie Morneau, Erin Phillips, Emily Winders and current senior Aubrie Yeatts had no way to get involved. Thus, the team was created. The group began recruiting others and helped direct each other to different associations where they could rodeo. By the end of the year the team had spread to Central High School and there were around 17 students participating from the two schools.
As more students across North Texas began to hear about the Western Heritage Foundation, the team began to grow. The team now has 35 members from nine different schools and the students compete in three different rodeo associations. The team practices every Wednesday night at the Keller Arena from 7-9 p.m and rodeos nearly every weekend all across North Texas and occasionally in Oklahoma.
Rodeo Queen and the club’s Student President, Aubrie Yeatts, said that practice is “one of the highlights of [her] week,” and that “the friendships [she has] made are relationships [she knows she’ll] have well past high school.” The students work together to set up equipment and push each other to conquer fears.
But even students who do not have horses or tac (equipment to ride) are welcome to ride.
“Anyone can join the team if they have a horse or not,” Rodeo Princess and the club’s Student Secretary Jillian Carruthers explained. “There are extra horses students bring out for people that don’t have their own.”
“[We] use a white little mare named Splash,” Carruthers explained. “She’s calm with the kids and pretty much does whatever you want her to do.”
The sport of Rodeo and the means needed to take care of horses is incredibly expensive, so the foundation try’s to help financially as well. The Western Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organzation. This allows the team to have sponsors who give money and receive tax write offs in return.
“We go around and find places that have either sponsored us in the past, or we think will sponsor us now,” Freshman club member, Alex Cantu, said. “We go into their place of business and talk to the manager about a sponsorship. They usually ask questions about what we do and our involvement in the community.”
Cantu said he’s learned a lot from the experience, “especially about doing business with others when it comes to sponsoring and money.”
The money is used to help students pay for rodeo entries, team trips, parties, and supplies needed for different social events the team participates in. The Western Heritage Foundation is sponsored by Nebraska Furniture Mart, Ariat, Charle’s Concrete, Life Outreach International, Serve Pro North East Fort Worth, Mcdonnell’s Feed, Kwik Kar Wash and Frost Bank.
Founder and coach, John Yeatts explained that in the long run their goals are to help students not only rodeo but see every angle of the agricultural life “to provide facilities and finances for students to be trained as well as train and house livestock to participate in 4H, FFA or western sports.”
They are also striving to, “create opportunities for AG related professionals to encourage and inspire students towards careers in the AG related industries,” and plan to have days where vets, meat processors and other professionals come out and talk about what it’s like in their career path. Yeatts also emphasized that they hope, “to build relationships with corporations and universities that help facilitate continued education opportunities.”
Students interested in joining the Western Heritage Foundation are encouraged to visit their website WHFUSA.org and come out to practice on Wednesday nights.