Countless Midwestern farmers, ranchers and other volunteers sprang into action the first week of March to aid the victims of wildfires that scorched 1.6 million acres in four states. Those fires were still smoldering when volunteers began organizing donations of hay, fence supplies and other items to support ranchers and their animals that survived the devastation.
The financial burden for many victims was overwhelming, and monetary funds were quickly established to be distributed to the needy. One organization often cited as a trustworthy steward of those funds with a proven track record of aiding those in need is the Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA), Amarillo, TX. In 2001 the organization formed a 501c3 foundation (WRCF) to provide financial assistance to working ranch cowboys and their families through scholarship and crisis assistance.
“Since its inception, the WRCA Foundation has provided over $3 million in financial support to ranching families,” says Leman Wall, WRCA manager. “Our mission is to promote ranching and to preserve the lifestyle of the working rancher and the working ranch cowboy.”
WRCF distributed checks to some wildfire victims within 10 days of the event, and the process is ongoing as the foundation continues to collect and distribute funds for wildfire relief. But WRCA is much more than a wildfire relief agent.
WRCA hosts the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo, each November. This years 22nd annual competition is “the single largest event in Amarillo,” Wall says. “Up to 24 ranch rodeo teams will receive an invitation based on their winning a WRCA sanctioned ranch rodeo. Four days of competition (Nov. 9-12, 2017) is complimented by a variety of activities that make the WRCA World Championship the premier gathering for the ranching community.”
While WRCA’s ranch rodeos grab attention, the organization’s foundation actively makes a significant difference in the lives of many in the ranching community. The 2017 school year saw 38 youth awarded WRCA scholarships, the largest in the history of the foundation. And WRCF steps in to help families when the unexpected hits, such as a family member enduring a medical crisis or other financial burden.
“Crisis can happen anywhere at any time and the foundation is here all year long to provide support to the ranching community,” Wall says.
Unlike some relief funds, WRCF has no deadline for applications. “We take applications as long as a need exists.”
Specifically, Wall says the application process is “fact gathering, and there are no geographical boundaries.” For instance, a wildfire victim’s application would list damages, such as equipment, structures, animals, fence and an estimated monetary loss for each. Wildfire victims may also apply to WRCA for funds after they’ve received relief from another organization or the federal government if those payments do not cover the loss from the wildfire event and there are still funds available through the wildfire relief fund.
All money collected by the Drovers/Farm Journal Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Fund will be administered through the WRCA Foundation. To learn more and make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.WildfireReliefFund.org.
For more information on WRCA, the World Championship Ranch Rodeo and the WRCA Foundation, visit www.wrca.org.