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Looking Like You Might Fail? Go Fishing!

Faced with a failed event- my first fundraiser- I could have hung my head in shame, but instead I tried again. This is my story of turning a failure into a fantastic fundraiser.

It was Spring of 2018 and I was determined to host a clay shoot fundraiser for the Martin County Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, of which I was chairman. I had a fantastic venue and even had a few sponsors lined up, but I really needed shooters to join in to cover the costs associated with the event. As the event neared it was looking like I might break even, at best, and as it was my first event I was ok with break even; I just could not lose money.

Unfortunately the participants never came and the "Inaugural MC YF&R Clay Shoot" was dead on pull. I had to cancel the event a couple weeks out or be faced with a loss.

I could have said "Well I tried" and moved on, but my determination to raise money for my committee was not done. I held a meeting with my members and sought out suggestions on how to regroup. One member said we should do a fishing tournament. Well, we do live in the Sailfish Capital of the World and sport fishing is a big economic driver here, so yeah LET'S DO IT! Oh yeah, but I don't fish. But I do know people- namely Nicole Watson who is not a young farmer or rancher, but she does know fishing.

We brought Nicole on and with her guidance we began moving forward with planning our tournament. We contacted our sponsors from the clay shoot and offered a reimbursement or a spot as sponsor of "The Buck Wild Fish Roundup!" Luckily they all stayed on board, YES! We studied all the other fishing tournaments that are held in our area and looked for a spot to jump in. We landed on Labor Day Weekend. We also studied their sponsorship packages, prize money, and rules, and cherry picked what we liked to create our own set of rules and prizes.

As I said before, this was my first fundraiser and I just need to at least break even. Well, when all the bills were paid and the prize money of $2,000 for 1st place, $1,500 for 2nd, and $1,000 for 3rd was all distributed we added the remainder and we cleared $3,000!

Fast forward to today and here we are just a few days after our fourth Buck Wild Fish Roundup. Nicole is still the heart of the team, Team Real Tradition has fished all four tournaments with us, and the Martin County Young Farmers and Ranchers have a healthy account with which they can advocate for farmers and support youth agriculture programs. I am no longer chair of the committee, but I am now president of the Martin County Farm Bureau and I am proud that we didn't give up and the tournament that came from nothing is continuing on and now we have built some great friends in agriculture through multiple other industries.

As Ronnie Kirchman of Team Real Tradition says, "Shut Up and Fish!" We'll see y'all Labor Day Weekend 2023. To the sponsors of the 2022 Buck Wild Fish Roundup- THANK YOU!

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