Ric Wolbrecht first learned about Tennessee Wildlife Federation from its board of directors’ chairman emeritus, Dr. John Overton Gayden. Dr. Gayden was like a second father to Ric and when the two would go hunting together, he would always talk about the Federation, its programs, and the impact the organization was having throughout the state.
An outdoor enthusiast himself, Ric felt called to get involved. “The outdoors is the greatest asset we have. It doesn’t matter whether you’re passionate about the forests, wildlife, waters, or outdoor recreation. We all have an obligation to take care of it,” said Ric.
Once Ric began volunteering his time with the Federation, he quickly became dedicated to furthering its mission. He served as treasurer for the board of directors from 2014 to 2015, as vice-chair from 2015 to 2016, and was elected board chair in 2017.
It wasn’t long until the whole Wolbrecht family got involved with the Federation. Their son, Will, became a Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program athlete in 2016. The entire family would travel the state to watch Will compete on the weekends.
Will also started his school’s Hunger Challenge Club—a point-based competition for high school clubs that supports the Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program.
In 2019, his club won the State Championship award for raising the most funds. “What started out as a friend getting Ric to volunteer his time turned into a whole family affair. It became our life,” said Gena.
But even before the Wolbrechts became part of the Federation family, conservation had long been part of their history. Gena comes from a long line of outdoorsmen and women back to her great grandfather. Similarly, Ric remembers spending countless hours outside by his father’s hip.
“I was fortunate that my father took me outdoors since the day I was born. We went hunting, fishing, and did yard work almost every weekend until I went off to college,” said Ric.
Ric and Gena plan to continue supporting opportunities for youth to get into the outdoors as well as other life-changing programs at the Federation such as Hunters for the Hungry and Habitat Conservation for years to come.
“You can’t be a user of our natural resources and expect them to be there forever without also giving back. Most people don’t understand how much funding and hard work it takes behind the scenes to make successful conservation happen,” said Ric.
For Gena, it’s all about preserving what you’re most passionate about. “You can’t put a price on what you love,”
That’s why the Wolbrechts plan to make the conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources part of their legacy.
The Federation recently launched a new resource at tnwf.org/legacy to help those passionate about conservation explore options to make impactful gifts. Gifts from donor-advised funds, stock gifts, and planned giving through a will or trust are all ways to ensure that conservation is funded now and into the future.
“Once you become connected to an organization, it’s important to have the right measures in place to ensure they can continue their mission. No matter what, you want to know that you’ve left a lasting legacy,” said Ric.
You too, can conserve our wild places and inspire the next generation to get outdoors by making a meaningful gift for the future. Visit tnwf.org/legacy to learn more.