The fundamental purpose of Western Heritage Day Inc. is to educate America’s future leaders on the production of their food, the lifestyle of agricultural men and women, their western heritage, the morals of the West, and the American agricultural industry in hopes of providing these future leaders with knowledge that will enrich and aid them in their lives.
Western Heritage Day Inc. values integrity, transparency, community, stewardship, diversity, efficiency, and learning
Guided by its governing principles and mission, Western Heritage Day Inc. seeks to be the premier agricultural and western education provider in the Rocky Mountain United States.
Western Heritage Day had its first successful program on January 14th, 2011 with an 8th grade class of 80 students rom Kent Denver Middle School. However, the program started long before January 14th. Spending time in both Denver and Craig, Tom Kourlis saw the differences in understanding urban students had about agriculture, so in his 7th grade year, Tom saw an opportunity to help contribute to the solution. Originally, Western Heritage Day was conceived to be a program in which each individual rode a horse, went to a rodeo, and interacted with livestock on the Kent Denver Campus, but quickly, the program developed into something more feasible and meaningful. With the inaugural event in 2011 at the National Western Stock Show, Western Heritage Day’s roots had been laid. In fact, the program still follows a very similar path in its current events. Due to the program’s success, Tom Kourlis continued the program taking Kent Denver’s 6th grade class of 60 students on January 17th, 2012 and January 18th, 2013. In 2011 and 2012, the event was funded by Tom Kourlis’ father as a donation, but the company needed to find 3rd party funding in order to verify its appeal and insure its future success. In 2013, the WHD Liberty Fund from Pikes Peak Community Group with the aid of Debbie Donner funded Western Heritage to take the 6th grade class in 2013, but Debbie Donner’s condition was that Western Heritage Day become a 501(c)(3) within the calendar year of 2013. Good to their promise, Western Heritage Day Inc. gained 501(c)(3) status on August 13th 2013. With the non-profit status, Western Heritage Day Inc. was positioned for long term success, and Tom Kourlis immediately began a new approach for 2014. In 2014, on January 17th, Western Heritage Day Inc. led a program that involved inner city and charter schools including: Denver Inner-City Parish, Calvary Christian School, Notre Dame School, and Presentation of Our Lady with a combined 126 students ranging from 6th to 9th grade. Again, Debbie Donner was kind enough to donate the fund necessary to run the program. The new program drew the attention of others, and the program was geared for expansion. In 2015, Western Heritage Day Inc. was invited by the Colorado State Fair to run Western Heritage Day events, and on August 28th, 31st, and September 1st Western Heritage Day Inc. ran programs for Hope Learning Academy, Huerfano County School District, St. John Nueman School, and Pueblo Academy of Arts. The program involved an amazing 300+ students ranging from 6th to 8th grade. The program was met with success and was funded by WHD Liberty Fund, the Buell Foundation, and the Golden Rotary Club. In 2016, WHD continued its connection with the State Fair and ran events on August 26th, 29th, and 31st with 300 students ranging from 6th to 8th grade. Again, the program has been met with success and praise. Looking forward, Western Heritage Day Inc. plans to continue its State Fair program, return to the NWSS, and possibly expand to other Shows or Fairs in or out of State. Western Heritage Day has been blessed to receive the mentorship of its Board: Pat Grant, Ed Nichols, and Steve LeValley as well as generous volunteering from History Colorado, Colorado State University, the National Western Stock Show, the PRCA, WAEI, Colorado Springs Water Utility, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Colorado Corn, Pueblo Museum, the Johnson Family, 4-H, Art Bosworth, Colorado State Fair Sponsorship, Molly Cotner, and many others. Your generous donations of time and effort are the reason Western Heritage Day Inc. can function and spread its message. As of today, Western Heritage Day Inc. has run events for nearly 1,000 students from all different backgrounds, across five years, and at two different major Fairs/Shows. There is much more to do, but Western Heritage Day will continue to pursue its mission of: educating America’s future leaders on the production of food, the lifestyle of agricultural men and women, their western heritage, the morals of the West, and the American agricultural industry in hopes of providing these future leaders with knowledge that will enrich and aid them in their lives.
Currently, Western Heritage Day serves nearly 500 students each year, within the next five years, with the help of the State Fair and the National Western Stock Show, Western Heritage Day hopes to expand to serving 1,000 students annually. Longer term, Western Heritage Day would love to expand to more events within Colorado and possibly to other State Fairs. Western Heritage Day’s message is of universal importance to any student within the United States, and WHD will do its best to help enrich and educate as many students as possible.
Western Heritage Day (WHD) was created because I saw a deficit of understanding surrounding agriculture and western values. The fact that middle school students across the Nation do not fully understand where their food comes from, how it got there, and the people who produced it is incredibly distressing. Our Nation’s future leaders will make crucial decisions regarding agriculture, but if these leaders do not have a basic understanding of the industry and rural lifestyle, how could they possibly make the ‘educated’ decisions. Each year, Western Heritage Day provides a program for hundreds of students hoping that they leave understanding their world and their fellow man a little bit better. The West is alive and in all of us - we just need to protect it. Western Heritage Day is rapidly expanding, and I am always interested in pursuing new avenues to reach students, so please let me know if you have any suggestions! Thank you for visiting our NEW website, and I hope to talk to you soon! Thank you so much, Tom Kourlis (President/Director of WHD)
Tom Kourlis is currently a student at Stanford University and the Founder of Western Heritage Day Inc. Tom Kourlis spent his summers working on his father’s sheep and cattle ranch outside of Craig, Colorado. He is determined to use Western Heritage Day as a tool for educating students about the importance of the agricultural industry as well as their western heritage.
Pat Grant is the chairman of the Board at the National Western Stock Show, the previous President of the National Western Stock Show (1991-2010), and a true friend of Colorado and the West. He grew up on a farm west of Littleton, and he truly understands the value of teaching young people where their food comes from.
Steve LeValley is the Sheep Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor of Meat Safety and Quality at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University. Steve LeValley grew up on a ranch in Hotchkiss, Colorado, and he is a true ally to the agricultural industry. Steve LeValley has been a leader in the ranching industry and continues to work to improve the 4-H program and the agricultural industry as a whole.
Ed Nichols is currently the Executive Director at the Joshua School, the previous CEO of History Colorado (2007-2015), and a true western educator and Colorado sponsor. Ed Nichols continues to pursue his goal of enriching Colorado through education.
Western Heritage Day Inc. Attn: Tom Kourlis 5310 Nassau Circle East Englewood, CO 80113. Phone: 303-929-1601 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org