A word from our founder, Tom Dermody...
As someone who has lived in Colusa County my whole life, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to some of the most incredible hunting and fishing spots that northern California has to offer. As early as age eight, I remember hunting waterfowl in the rice fields, deer in the mountains, and fishing on the rivers and lakes that surround my home. My love and respect for nature has only deepened as I’ve gotten older, and because of my employment within the agricultural industry, I’ve been lucky enough to foster lasting friendships with the farmers and various landowners that live in northern California. In 2004, I was contacted by Scott Jones, a member of the California Deer Association (CDA) about a young man who, after being involved in a motorcycle accident, was paralyzed from his mid-chest down. Scott was concerned about him, as he’d become despondent, and in an effort to show him he could still enjoy the great outdoors, we decided to make a plan. I reached out to a friend of mine, who graciously offered up his ranch for a deer hunt. It was a huge success, not only because of the three-point buck we harvested, but in seeing the happiness and sheer gratitude on the young man’s face at the end of the day. Not long after that hunt, he enrolled in college, obtained a four-year degree in Ministry, and became the pastor of a church. Through that first experience, I realized that there was an important need for programs that would provide the opportunity to special needs kids to enjoy outdoor activities.
Soon after that first hunting trip, I organized a family fishing day for special needs kids. It was a wonderful weekend, and being able to meet the families and kids and see the happiness it brought them, was incredibly gratifying. Interest in our events begun to pick up, and although we started with just one annual fishing day, soon we were hosting several each year. Around that same time, I was asked to organize and host a hunting trip for some veterans who were returning from tours in the Middle East. In doing so, I recognized a common thread between the events I’d previously organized, and these new hunting trips; the impact of getting out into nature and participating in outdoor activities, was an incredibly healing experience.
In recent years, Field of Dreams has truly taken off, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people. John Montelli, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was one of those individuals. After speaking with him about how Vietnam veterans aren’t always recognized, I made the decision to offer eligibility to participate in Field of Dreams activities to all servicemen and women. Additionally, we now host an annual Colorado Mule Deer hunt in memory of John Montelli, which honors veterans from the wars in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.
Field of Dreams is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we feel very lucky to be in the position to offer outdoor adventures to an ever-widening group of very deserving individuals. Additionally, we’re thankful to have the continuous support of organizations like CDA, the Fregoso Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and many others. In 2013 we had two of our hunts filmed, and footage was aired on television (Grateful Nation, and Northwest Hunter).
None of the things accomplished by Field of Dreams would be possible without the dedication and involvement of board members, volunteers, outdoor organizations, as well as the countless landowners who grant us access to their property. If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved, you can find more information here.