Education

Grant to Help With Local’s ‘Smithing’ Education

Photo by Ja Owen Riedesel. Photo submitted by Hayley Wofford Northey. onny Gios.

Weaverville – Upon graduating high school, continuing to higher education can be a tough fiscal decision. 

Thanks to his selection as a Jimmy Rane Foundation scholar, Owen Riedesel of Weaverville has help pursuing his dreams as a student at The American College of the Building Arts this fall. The 2021 graduate of North Buncombe High is amongst 48 students from 14 states awarded scholarships from the foundation this year. Riedesel plans on majoring in forged architectural iron/blacksmithing.

About receiving the scholarship, Riedesel said, “I was so grateful to know that everything I’ve been working toward in my life was acknowledged and appreciated…I have taken a path less traveled for my major in college, so I’m very pleased to have the recognition of the Jimmy Rane Foundation to support that decision.”

Scholarship

Jimmy Rane, founder of the Abbeville, AL-based Great Southern Wood Preserving, Incorporated, “traditionally hosts an annual golf tournament as the single fund-raising event for the foundation drawing both corporate and individual sponsors,” said a press release. 

Yet, for the second year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the foundation from hosting the golf tournament and awards banquet. 

“However, the generous support of sponsors made it possible for the foundation, now in its 21st year, to award the highest number of scholarships to date—eclipsing the forty given in 2020 which, at that time, was the highest awarded to date,” said the foundation via press release.

“My college is very expensive. My mom is permanently disabled and my father is a nurse who has been caring for COVID-19 patients,”  explained Riedesel. “This award helps me pursue my dream of becoming a professional blacksmith by reducing the amount I will need to work during school so that I can focus more attention on my studies. Graduating with less debt will allow me to pursue owning my own business sooner and begin to help other smiths on their paths sooner in my career.” 

He aims to own an architectural blacksmith shop to employ and teach younger smiths and collaborate with architects and artisans on major restoration/preservation projects.

Riedesel already has a headstart in his field. He is the owner/operator of Weaverville-based Harvest Gap Forge, a blacksmithing business specializing in traditionally crafted, practical metal art. 

“In addition, Riedesel was a blacksmithing demonstrator at community events and is a member of the Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths and the Blacksmith Association of America. He earned honorable mentions in the Western North Carolina Regional Scholastic Art Awards, was named a North Carolina Academic Scholar and earned a spot on the Honor Roll for North Buncombe High School and Buncombe County Virtual Academy. He has also earned an Eagle Scout Bronze Palm,” stated the release.

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