Posts tagged Medora ND

Veterans and Military Appreciation Day 2022: Our biggest tribute to veterans ever!

Veterans and Military Appreciation Day 2022: Our biggest tribute to veterans ever!

Each day at the Medora Musical we strive to honor the men and women who have served our country. But July 10, 2022 was extra special in Medora!

Thanks to generous donors who have supported our Veterans Endowment, this year’s Veterans and Military Appreciation Day in Medora was bigger and more special than ever before.

This year we were able to:

  • Welcome 362 veterans, active duty, and reservist military members to the Medora Musical at no cost
  • Honor veterans with a speech by Vice Admiral David Architzel, the retired commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt
  • Dazzle the audience with a flyover by a historic Beechcraft T-32 Mentor aircraft
  • Welcome the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Color Guard from Mandan, ND to present colors before the Medora Musical
  • Host a special Q&A panel discussion with four distinguished veterans in the afternoon

We invite you to re-live the day by scrolling through our slideshow of images below!

We also want to extend an invite to you to support the Veterans Appreciation Day Endowment fund. It’s thanks to that growing fund that we were able to say ‘thank you’ to our nation’s heroes — and the more the fund grows, the more ways we’ll be able to extend our gratitude!

Learn more about the Veterans Endowment here. And follow this link if you’d like to chip in now!

Ed Schafer Retires from TRMF Board of Directors, Shares Optimism for Medora’s Future

After twelve years of active leadership and a lifetime of interest in and dedication to Medora, Ed Schafer has retired from his position as Chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) Board of Directors.

Schafer delivered his farewell address to friends and supporters of TRMF on Saturday, June 11 at the annual Rough Riders Roundup luncheon in Medora.

He reflected on his long family history in Medora. His father, Harold Schafer, began investing in the revitalization of the town in the 1960s. “I traveled beside my dad to and from Medora long before the seeds of the new Medora were planted.” In 1986, he oversaw the transition of the Medora Division of the Gold Seal Company into the public non-profit Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

In his twelve years as Chair of the Board of Directors, TRMF grew and thrived in substantial ways. Historical landmarks, like the Von Hoffman House and the Ferris General Store, were restored. A campus-style employee work and social space, the Life Skills Center, was constructed. TRMF expanded its lodging offerings by adding the Elkhorn Quarters. And recent additions, such as Point to Point Park and the high-capacity accessible elevator at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, were approved during Schafer’s tenure.

In his farewell remarks, Schafer said his passion for Medora stems from its ability to “inspire people to self-generate the attributes of freedom.”

Schafer told those in attendance: “I hope you can look around this place and think about endurance. The Badlands have survived glaciers, storms, erosion, petrification, and fires—and they’re beautiful. Let that be a lesson to us in life’s storms and difficulties. We can persevere.”

In a farewell letter to supporters of the foundation, Schafer expressed optimism for the future of TRMF. “Our organization’s success has been because of people like you. I am confident the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has a bright future.”

Tim O’Keefe, TRMF’s new Chair of the Board, expressed gratitude for his predecessor’s long history in Medora. “As history and legend have it, some 60 years ago, Harold Schafer and his young son Ed stood on the top of the bluff overlooking Medora, when Harold said ‘This place is too special not to be preserved.'”

“Over the last sixty years, no one has been more a part of seeing Harold Schafer’s vision for Medora become a reality than Ed,” O’Keefe said.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum also praised Schafer’s dedication to the service of others. “Theodore Roosevelt said ‘The great prize in life is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.’ Ed and Nancy Schafer grabbed that prize. The difference they’ve made in people’s lives, not just here in Medora, but throughout their entire careers, is really incredible.”

Ribbons Cut at Two New Medora Destinations: Point to Point Park & Schafer Point

Ribbons Cut at Two New Medora Destinations: Point to Point Park & Schafer Point

(MEDORA, ND) The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) recently celebrated two major milestones: ribbons were cut at the newly completed Point to Point Park and at historic Schafer Point in Medora.

Point to Point Park is designed to be a hub of family-friendly activities in downtown Medora. It features a mini golf course, a zipline, and a system of hiking trails—and new this year, includes a swimming pool and lazy river, jump pillow, pickleball courts, and more.

The ribbon at Point to Point Park was cut by JoAnn Butler, who along with her late husband Matt made a $2 million lead gift to establish the $8 million project. The couple’s daughter, Twylah Blostky, spoke on behalf of the Matt & JoAnn Butler Family Foundation.

“When families gather, the stories always come out, and they usually start out with, ‘Do you remember that time when…'” Blotsky said. “All of us are here to give you the gift of memories—for you, your children, and your grandchildren—so that going forward, your new stories can begin with: ‘Do you remember that time when we were in Medora and…'”

The Butler family was joined by several other major philanthropic contributors to the project to help christen the park on Saturday, June 11, 2022. See the list of projects and their primary donors below:

  • Lead Gift: The Matt & JoAnn Butler Family
  • Family Pool: Great River Energy
  • Pool House: Marlene Hoffart & Family
  • Lazy River: Dick & Darlyne Anderson, George Pasternak
  • Little Bully Pulpit Mini Golf Course: Mike & Peggy Bullinger Family
  • Boat Thieves: Chris & Trina Smaaladen
  • Point to Point Trails: Linda & Lizzy Pancratz
  • Splash Pad: Dickinson Ready Mix
  • Shade Pavilion: Van & Dee Larson
  • Schafer Point: Jim & Joanne Kack
  • Mini Zipline: Tom & Frances Leach Foundation
  • Pickleball: Brad & Deb Wimmer
  • Zipline: James & Cynthia Jorgensen, Todd & Shirley Porter Family, Arthur & Edith Pearson Foundation, Mike & Shelley Rowe
  • Jump Pillow: 1st International Bank & Trust, Steve & Gretchen Stenehjem
Watch the video above to experience the Point to Point Park ribbon cutting ceremony!

Schafer Point is a historically significant destination along Point to Point Trails, which lead hikers to the top of the butte that overlooks Medora to the north. It is here that Ed Schafer recalls standing as a young boy with his father Harold, who would go on to revitalize the town below.

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation constructed a log pavilion at this location, thanks to the generosity of Jim & Joanne Kack. The ribbon was cut by Ed and Nancy Schafer on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

“What’s really cool is that there are members of the public here along with the Schafer family,” said Randy Hatzenbuhler, the President of TRMF. “That’s the whole point of this place: we want people to enjoy a hike in the Badlands. I’m grateful that we get to enjoy places like this together.”

Watch the video above to experience the Schafer Point ribbon cutting ceremony!

How a teddy bear from Teddy Roosevelt made a family’s visit to Medora extra-special

At the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, nothing makes us happier than hearing people’s “Medora stories.”

This particular story — of Teddy Roosevelt, a teddy bear, and a young girl named Lily — has us smiling today.

Watch the video above to hear Lily’s great-grandparents, Mike and Marianne, share the story of a visit to Medora with three of their great-grandchildren.

“Lily was extremely sensitive to touch of any kind. She had never accepted a stuffed animal,” Marianne said.

That is, until she met Teddy Roosevelt (as portrayed by Joe Wiegand). He struck up a conversation with the three kids on the streets of downtown Medora before his one-man show began at the Old Town Hall Theater.

“When it was time for the show, we especially noted Lily paying attention to Teddy Roosevelt with everything she had,” Marianne said.

“At the close of his show, he came back holding a teddy bear,” she explained. He tossed it over to their family, intending for it to be given to Lily.

What happened next was a real surprise:

“She hugged it, and there was no way she would let go of it!” Marianne said. “She had to carry it wherever she went. She held it all through the Medora Musical. She hugged it on the drive back home. She hugged it when she went to bed that night.”

Seeing Lily embrace a stuffed animal for the first time is a memory Mike and Marianne won’t soon forget.

“The attention that Teddy Roosevelt gave to Lily — it was just beautiful,” Marianne says. “That teddy bear was a piece of joy for her for such a long time.”

Reflecting on the April 1st, 2021 wildfire — and the heroic people who saved Medora

Reflecting on the April 1st, 2021 wildfire — and the heroic people who saved Medora

As the calendar turns from March to April, we can’t help but remember what was happening exactly one year ago today, on April 1st, 2021.

A spark from a sagging power line southwest of Medora grew into a wildfire that tore across the rain-deprived Badlands. “It outran us at just about every corner,” remembers Doug Koester, the Maintenance Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

The fire rapidly approached the city of Medora, as well as nearby locations with priceless history, like the Chateau de Mores and the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, home of the Medora Musical. It forced Medora’s residents to evacuate — to watch the cloud of smoke move and grow and fear the worst for their homes and livelihoods.

One year later, we remember those fearful feelings: but much more, we feel immense gratitude for the nearly 150 brave first responders who leapt into service to save Medora.

“It took everybody working together to fully execute the plan,” recalls Billings County Fire Chief Kyle Shockley.

“We were bound and determined to hold the line,” says Koester, who is also Medora’s Fire Chief.

The line held; once the blaze was extinguished, the fire lines viewed from the sky proved it.

“We do it because we love our community,” says Clint Rood, a member of the TRMF Maintenance Team who helped save the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. “I’m just here to lend a helping hand. I’m no better than the next guy down the line.”

“All the communities came together,” Koester says. Indeed, dozens of first responding agencies from not only western North Dakota, but statewide—and even as far as Colorado—heeded the call and helped save the city we love.

No amount of gratitude is too much for the people who make up those agencies and organizations. So one year after their heroic acts, all of us at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation say “Thank you” once again to the following groups (and everyone who stepped up to help on that fateful day):

  • Medora Fire Department
  • Billings County Rural Fire Department
  • Billings County Highway Department
  • Billings County Sheriff’s Office
  • Billings County Ambulance
  • Medora Police Department
  • Medora Public Works
  • Belfield Fire Department
  • South Heart Fire Department
  • Sentinel Butte Fire Department
  • Beach Fire Department
  • Golva Fire Department
  • Wibaux Fire Department
  • Golden Valley County Sheriff’s Department
  • North Dakota Highway Patrol
  • North Dakota National Guard
  • National Park Service
  • United States Forest Service
  • North Dakota Forest Service
  • Colorado Emergency Management Office
  • Civil Air Patrol – North Dakota Wing
  • State Radio Communications
  • Stark County Dispatch

We invite you to watch this video, in which we interviewed many of the key people who worked diligently to save Medora from the April 1st wildfire:

“The Medora Connection” & help for Ukraine in the news

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people.”

Yarema Slonevskyy

In the last week, the story of how friendships made in Medora have led to substantial help for people caught in the war between Ukraine and Russia has spread across North Dakota.

On March 25th, KFYR-TV aired a feature story on Yarema Slonevskyy and Jason Masten, two Medora employees who have connected in an incredible way:

Yarema Slonevskyy’s Medora nametag holds hundreds of memories.

“People see it says I’m from Ukraine and they ask, ‘How did you end up in Medora?’” he explained.

Every summer since 2008, he’s been leaving his home in Ukraine and coming to Medora. He is one of more than 300 seasonal employees the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation hires each summer.

Slonevskyy quickly learned that there is something special about Medora.

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people,” he said from his home in Ukraine.

Now those people, are helping Slonevskyy as his country faces war.

“I worked with Yarema that first year,” said Jason Masten, a Florida native who spent two summers as a TRMF seasonal employee. He met his girlfriend there. He also made other lifelong friends and developed his giving nature.

“Everybody deserves help,” Masten said.

Masten is now living in Poland, where he’s collecting supplies for Slonevskyy to distribute.

“I told him what we needed, and he said, ‘I’m willing to help you out as much as possible,’” recalled Slonevskyy.

You can watch and read the full story by Jody Kerzman for KFYR-TV here.

KX News also shared Yarema’s story, detailing what sort of goods have been collected by his Medora friends:

“We loaded them with strollers, baby shoes, kids’ clothes, diapers, cans of food, formula food for different ages; huge amounts, we barely could fit it,” Slonevskyy said.

Read and watch Cameron Brewer’s story for KX News here.

Progress Update: Accessible Elevator Taking Shape at Burning Hills Amphitheatre!

Folks in Medora have been enjoying quite the sight this week: an enormous crane swinging pieces of our brand-new high-capacity elevator into place at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre!

These photos show the progress being made on a foggy March 2nd, 2022. It’s thrilling to get a better sense of how this amazing new structure will fit into the landscape at the home of the Medora Musical.

This high-capacity elevator is a major piece of our Access Medora initiative: an ongoing effort to ensure the Medora experience is positive for guests with mobility and sensory challenges.

“It’s been fun to see this elevator take shape,” says Kinley Slauter, the Properties & Attractions Director for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. “It will be much more fun to see it in use this summer!”

Instead of being shuttled up and down our winding walking path — a process that could take up to an hour on busy nights — guests in need of extra assistance will have a fast, safe, efficient new option.

“The whole visit to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre is an experience,” says Maddie Thompson, Theaters Manager for TRMF, “from the moment you reach the top of the hill to your trip back into town. This elevator will make that experience better all around. We’re excited!”

Fans of the Medora Musical, like Valerie Addicott and her daughter, are excited too. “I have a little girl in a wheelchair, and she loves the Medora Musical, but we’ve only seen it once due to it being difficult to get her to and from the amphitheatre,” she says. “This will be a Godsend to so many people and their friends and family!”

“The addition of the elevator will also give people an amazing new view of the Badlands,” Slauter says, describing the view from the bridge to the elevator. Take a look at this artist’s rendering of that view:

We’re grateful to the Engelstad Foundation for providing us with a $1 million grant to get this project off the ground. We also owe a big “thank you” to the State of North Dakota, which awarded us a $1 million Tourism Transportation Grant during the 2021 Legislative Session in support of Access Medora.

We can’t wait for summer to get here!

NEWS RELEASE: Clarence Sitter Named Chief Operating Officer, Emily Klym Becomes Chief Financial Officer of TRMF

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is happy to announce new positions for two longtime leaders of our organization. Former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Clarence Sitter has assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the organization—and previous Controller Emily Klym has taken the mantle of CFO.

Sitter and Klym began their new roles on January 1st, 2022.

“The Medora Foundation is a great place to work,” Sitter says. “The values of our organization—of service to others and respect for people and place—attracted me to Medora and keep me here. I look forward to continuing to share those values in this new capacity.”

Clarence Sitter grew up in Drayton, North Dakota. He earned his bachelor degree and his MBA from the University of Mary in Bismarck, where he was invited to join the Harold Schafer Emerging Leaders Academy. It was there that he became acquainted with members of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. After an eleven-year career as a Certified Public Accountant with Eide Bailly, he joined TRMF as Chief Financial Officer in June of 2012.

“I learned about Harold Schafer’s legacy of reinvigorating Medora during my time at the University of Mary,” Sitter says. “I consider it a blessing and an honor to be able to give back to Medora and the people of North Dakota, like Harold did.”

Sitter’s tenure as CFO brought a great deal of growth and expansion at the TR Medora Foundation: from approximately $10 million in annual operating revenue in 2012 to about $20 million today. The organization’s staff also grew from around 30 full-time employees to more than 70 in 2022.

“I feel like I’m leaving the CFO position in a better place than I found it; that was always my goal,” Sitter says. “I believe Medora will continue to be a safe, family-friendly place for North Dakota to enjoy, and I know we’ll go on to provide more opportunities for our employees to grow and develop.”

Meanwhile, Sitter expressed great confidence in his successor Emily Klym. “Emily is tenacious, detail-oriented, outgoing, passionate, and caring—all great traits for a CFO to have,” Sitter says. “I look forward to seeing what she’ll do to improve the position and our organization.”

“I am very excited and humbled to be in this new role at the TR Medora Foundation,” Klym says. “I’ve gained a lot of perspective on our organization as controller, and have worked closely with our various department managers in that time. I’m glad to have a voice at the table of our excellent Leadership Team.”

Emily Klym grew up in Edgeley, North Dakota. She says her “Medora story” began in her childhood. “We traveled here as a family every summer. I absolutely loved it.”

Klym enrolled at Dickinson State University, where she was admitted to the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program. She graduated in 2012 with degrees in accounting and business, then became a Certified Public Accountant in 2014. After a multi-year career at Brady Martz & Associates in Dickinson, she joined TRMF as Controller in July of 2018.

Klym says she’s grateful to have held a role that allowed her to interact closely with the many branches of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. “I’ve had the chance to learn and understand intimately the opportunities and challenges that emerge for employees at various levels of our organization. That’s a perspective I’m excited to share with our Leadership Team.”

She expressed gratitude that her already-rich “Medora story” gets to continue in this way. “I fell in love out here!” Klym says. “Not only with my husband, but with the landscape, the history, and the people. I’m so glad to be working in Medora.”

NEWS RELEASE: A Bigger, Better Medora Experience Means More Summer Jobs & Free Housing

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF), in anticipation of its biggest summer season ever, is preparing to welcome a seasonal staff of hundreds of highly qualified people from all around the world—and to offer several perks for those employees.

TRMF is a year-round operation that employs 72 full-time staff members. In order to better serve the many thousands of guests who visit Medora in the summer, our staff grows to include hundreds of seasonal employees.

And in 2022, TRMF will have even more attractions and features in Medora for guests to experience:

To provide these new services—in addition to mainstays like the Medora Gospel Brunch, lodging at the historic Rough Riders Hotel, and tee times at Bully Pulpit Golf Course—TRMF is poised to hire 337 summer employees in 2022.

“Living and working in Medora makes for a summer unlike any other,” says Sara Michael, Talent Acquisition Specialist for TRMF. “And the summer ahead will be our biggest and most fun one yet. I’m eager to see our staff grow to include hundreds of wonderful people.”

As part of our hiring surge, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is offering several incentives and perks to our summer employees:

  • Housing will be provided at no cost to employees who reside in double-occupancy housing during their time in Medora
  • Employees will be eligible for a $300 end-of-season bonus
  • Referral bonuses of $200 are available to employees who recommend additional hires
  • Employees can attend the Medora Musical at no cost
  • Golf rounds for $11.00 at Bully Pulpit Golf Course for employees
  • More than $30,000 in scholarship and award opportunities are available for employees who demonstrate leadership and good character

“We often hear from our seasonal workforce that they have the best summer of their life when they work in Medora,” Michael says. “We’re happy that we can offer free room and board to our staff this year, in addition to the competitive wages and other great perks that come with spending a summer here.”

Anyone interested in applying to work in Medora is invited to see our full list of openings at this link.

VIDEO: Work and Explore in Medora!
PHOTOS: Employees on the job in Medora
LINK: Learn about employment in Medora

THANK YOU: Nearly $35,000 raised for kids in Medora on Giving Hearts Day 2022!

February 10th, 2022 is a day we won’t forget at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

Why? Because on Giving Hearts Day, more than 120 kind people and organizations had Medora in mind —and altogether, $34,360.77 was raised to support the Medora WISH program!

Those dollars will go a very long way in helping us accomplish the goal of Medora WISH: to help more kids attend the Medora Musical and other activities in town at no cost. We’ve already covered more than 5,000 tickets to the show since Medora WISH began in 2019—and we can’t wait to do even more!

We have plenty of people to give an extra “thank you” to for their kindness on Giving Hearts Day 2022, including:

  • Keith & Cathy Peltier, for kickstarting our efforts with a $10,000 matching gift
  • Duane & Paula McIntyre and an anonymous donor, who each contributed $5,000 to the cause
  • Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck for donating 15% of their sales from February 10th to Medora WISH
  • The fifty-four donors who chipped in at least $100

Whether you gave $10 or $10,000—we want you to know how special you are to Medora. Thank you for contributing to Medora WISH on Giving Hearts Day. Thanks to you, we’re even closer to our goal of someday welcoming kids to the Medora Musical at no cost forever.

The icing on our Giving Hearts Day cake was hearing Adam & Tay play some fabulous music at Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck that evening. It made us even more eager for the return of the Medora Musical this summer!