Pairing athletes with disabled kids and veterans.

Chris and Donna Heffernan of North Powder, Oregon, have no shortage of energy, interests, or sense of community commitment.

When they are not managing the family agriculture farms with son’s Justin and Sheldon, both are doing their part for their community. Chris spending seven years as a member of the State Board of Forestry and volunteering as a member of the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol while Donna served terms on the board of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association and was Union County’s 2010 Ag Woman of the Year.

While growing several thousand acres of alfalfa hay, timothy, organic carrot seed, and garlic the Heffernans’ decided to add industrial hemp, rich in CBD and CBG to their harvest. Adding hemp as a sustainable crop provided the Heffernans’ on opportunity to deliver high quality plant material to be used in a variety of finished products. “We looked at the opportunity to be involved in something that could really provide a benefit to people, and we knew we could help,” Justin Heffernan said.

While Justin and Sheldon focus on the farming side of the business, Chris and Donna work on minimizing the damage from the 200 elk and 100 deer that frequent and live on the property. Not to say that Chris and Donna don’t spend an abundance of time on helping with the various harvest. My first meeting with Donna was delayed due to her operating a combine late one night.

The Heffernans’ bordering ranch land was thick with timber when they purchased it in the 90s. Unmanaged and overgrown, they thinned the timber to improve the health of the forest and to create open spaces for wildlife. This created an area where wildlife would spend more time, reducing the amount of time they spent in the neighboring agriculture fields.

An 85-acre alfalfa field was added and is one reason why the ranch is so attractive to deer and elk. Each year the first two cuttings are sold for hay. However, the third is allowed to grow for a vast array of wildlife. Elk and deer are drawn to the alfalfa field, orchards of fruit trees and the vast water availability system put into place on the ranch every summer and fall.

The work the Heffernans do is particularly valuable in the fall. This is when deer and elk come down from the mountains to eat the added vegetation. Large numbers of the wandering deer and elk can cause immense property damage and pose traffic hazards.

“We intercept them and keep them here with food and water,'' Chris Heffernan said.”

Now the Heffernans’ welcome the deer and elk on to their land. Their tireless efforts to manage the ranch forests have seen the amount of wildlife on the property increase substantially. There, the elk and deer feed on crops specifically set aside for wildlife. .

The habitat the Heffernans provide is helping keep deer and elk away from the fields of landowners throughout southern Union County and northern Baker County.

The Heffernans' work has not gone unrecognized. Progressive Farmer magazine of Birmingham, Ala., has named their ranch, Farm of the Year in a national competition.

The Heffernans' North Slope Natural Resources Ranch west of North Powder has been selected by a team of biologists as the winner in the Big Game Management category of the Wildlife Stewardship Farm of the Year awards program.

The wildlife stewardship program was created by Progressive Farmer/Rural Sportsman magazine to identify farms where lands are managed to benefit wildlife and are made available in some capacity for those participating in shooting sports.

Creating award winning wildlife habitat does create additional work. Managing the wildlife numbers is equally important to Heffernan. “If we didn’t manage the number of animals, we would be right back into the original problem with over population,” he said.

The Heffernans’ do not offer fee hunting on their property. They have, however, donated their land for some guided youth hunts in the past.

Moving forward, the partnership between the Heffernans’ and the Pro Athletes Hemp Association has created a unique opportunity to provide benefits for others.

The Heffernans’ wildlife management, coupled with The Pro Athletes Hemp Association relationship with athletes, current and past, provides the opportunity to pair athletes with disabled kids or veterans for a hunt of a lifetime.

Meanwhile Heffernan has no plans to cut back his schedule.

“It keeps me young, and it keeps me thinking, “he said.

If your interested in getting involved, helping kids and Veterans experience this wonderful ranch click here to contact us.