We connect people to Medora for positive,
life-changing experiences.

About the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

For over 50 years, we've believed Medora is a special place. It's our mission to preserve this place for generations and to connect people to Medora for positve, life-changing experiences.

Everything we do in Medora comes back to three, overlapping circles that guide our work: History, Education, and Entertainment. By focusing on activities that hone in on these three thring areas, we better complete our vision, and stay true to the tennants of our founder Harold Schafer, and the millions of people who have enjoyed Medora a family-friendly, historic and entertainment destination since 1965.

But we haven't always been the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation... 

“My obligation today is to see that Medora’s
greatness can be carried on after my lifetime,
that its future can be even better than the past.”
-- HAROLD SCHAFER, Founder, 1988

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is a public non-profit organization that was formed in 1986 by a multi-million dollar gift from Harold Schafer and his family – most famously known as the founders of the Gold Seal Company, the maker of Mr. Bubble, Glass Wax and other nationally-known household products.

For Harold, the beauty and history of Medora and the Badlands was just too much to let disappear with the sands of time – so he made it his life’s work to save it for generations to come.

He began his labor of love in 1962, while running his nationally recognized Gold Seal Company, when he revitalized the Rough Riders Hotel -- which at that time was almost completley delapitated, and whose previous owners had won the property in a card game! At that moment, Harold had just created the Medora Division of the Gold Seal Company.

His enthusiasm continued over the course of the next few years until he acquired an old, run down theater on the side of a bluff that was built for a 1958 showing of a Theodore Roosevelt play called Old Four Eyes. At this point, he summed it up like this: "Well, since I own a theater now, I might as well put on a show!"

Over the winter Harold contacted a producer in Minneapolis about creating a family-friendly show that, #1 had something for the kids in it, #2 paid tribute to Theodore Roosevelt, and #3 had a BIG patriotic ending in it. On July 1, 1965, Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again: a Medora Musical debuted in a theater with a walking path entry, dirt-path isles, and wooden-plank benches.

Today, over 50 years later, it's known around the world as simply the Medora Musical and, while the show and venue has evolved over time, it still includes the three original themes Harold wanted in that very first show. 

This was the beginning of TRMF, before it was TRMF actually, but still shapes who we are as an organization and why we do what we do each day, still in the 21st century. 

Harold continued giving to the historic cow town frequented by Theodore Roosevelt, the Marquis de Mores, and many-a rough-and-tumble westerner until the sale of his Gold Seal Company, then his legendary work ethic and excitement kept him right on going when TRMF was created in 1986. He kept giving to Medora and the people who visited until his death in 2001.

Harold's wife, Sheila, who was there, cleaning bathrooms and anything else that needed doing back in 1965, was an integral part of making Medora and TRMF what it is today. She was the heart of the town, the unofficial "First Lady of Medora," until she joined her beloved Harold in 2016.

But WHY are we doing ANY of this? Because we believe, like Harold before us, that it is so important to connect people to historic Medora for positive, life-changing experiences. 

In fact, that is our Vision at TRMF: 

We connect people to Medora for positive, life-changing experiences.


Our Mission

PRESERVE the experience of the badlands, the historic character of Medora and the values and heritage of Theodore Roosevelt and Harold Schafer;

PRESENT opportunities for our guests to be educated and inspired through interpretive programs, museums and attractions that focus on the Old West, our patriotic heritage, and the life of Theodore Roosevelt in the badlands;

SERVE the traveling public, providing for their comfort while visiting historic Medora, the badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Our Values

We show Respect for people and place.
We deliver Excellence in Hospitality.
We work with Creativity and Integrity.
We are a Family Who Values Family.

We do our best to live our vision, mission, and values each day and to teach them to those young people who spend a #BestSummerOfTheirLife with us. You'll find them throughout orientation materials, in meetings and trainings, and shown throughout the Life Skills Center where so many of our people spend important parts of their day.

We're lucky to have help in our mission, too.

Through the contributions and teamwork of our Board of Directors, a full time staff of 45 team members, 350+ seasonal, student, and international employees, over 600 summer volunteers, and financial backing from generous supporters, all of us work toward the common goal of helping more people become inspired by the Badlands the way Theodore Roosevelt was, Harold after him, and millions more since. 

Our Board of Directors

Harold Schafer, Founder (1912-2001)

Ed Schafer, Chair
Greg Tschetter, Vice Chair
Gretchen Stenehjem, Secretary
Don Clement, Treasurer

Dr. Bill Altringer
Claudia Anderson
Levi Andrist
Jane Angerer
Rep. Rich Becker
Twylah Blotsky
Al Christianson
Bruce Furness

Marlene Hoffart
Sen. Karen Krebsbach
Tim O'Keefe
Dr. Tracy Martin
Barry Schafer
Medora Sletten
Mike Zaun

 


 

 

 



Staff Officer
Randy Hatzenbuhler, TRMF President

Development Team 
Joslyn Reichert, Development Officer
Bill Sorensen, Development Officer

First Year of Medora Musical
Volunteers Each Year
Countries Represent In Our Seasonal Student Workforce
Annual Members of TRNP

None of this has been possible without the help of hundreds, no thousands, of folks who helped support projects in Medora.

 

Here is a short list of our most recent, Donor-Funded Projects

 

Matching Gift Challange for the Andrist Endowment for the Performing Arts -- Challange reached December of 2017
Supports the performance and fine arts in downtown Medora, at the Von Hoffman House, and at the Andrist Stage and Windgarden -- John Andrist made a matching gift pledge, and people from around the state responded.

Medora Musical Bathroom Expansion -- completed 2017
Thanks to contributions by Mark & Claudia Thompson, owners of H.A. Thomson and Sons, as well as Paul Gurholt, the rest room capacity was nearly DOUBLED, helping most everyone got to see the kick off of act two of the show. 

Old Town Hall Theater & Sorensen Stage expansion and renovation -- completed 2017
Now home to numerous all year long, this project was funded by a combination of lead donors, John Andrist and Mike & Peggy Bullinger, and numerous seat sponsors within the theater itself. 

Bill & Jane Marcil Life Skills Center -- completed 2016
First ever creation of a space that offers our staff, cast, student and international workers, and volunteers a place to work, train, and grow together.

Historically accurate renovation of the Joe Ferris General Store, thanks to lead donor Dr. Dennis Wolf -- -- completed in 2016

Infrastructure at the Medora Musical -- the safer, wider road leading to the amphitheatre and vastly improved paved parking and drainage -- completed in 2014

The restoration and expansion of the historic Rough Riders Hotel -- completed in 2010
A place often frequented by Theodore Roosevelt during his time here, this was also the first project undertaken by Harold in 1962 when he began the resurrection of Medora.

See a full Timeline of TRMF Projects and History Here

See our Projects for the Future list to see what lies ahead for TRMF and Medora.

 

More Good Stuff from TRMF

Browse our library of past TRMF Newsletters

Become a TR Medora Foundation Member

See our most recent Development Report, including TRMF Financial Information

See a list of our Annual Members & Annual Giving

See a list of Cumulative Giving by generous supporters just like you (Updated annually after close of FY, 1/31)

 

Giants Have Always Walked In Medora

Many, many improvements have been accomplished since 1962. From building the existing Burning Hills Amphitheatre in 1992 and the total renovation and addition to the Rough Riders Hotel (again!), to historic preservation efforts, new entertainment options and events for families, and the recent work to create the Life Skills Center Campus for our 350 plus student & international workers, and 500 volunteers to collaborate each season.

While there's even more on the horizon for TRMF, we take guidance from the past, and what has been accomplished by the those "giants" of Medora's history.

The ones who had the courage to dream, then roll up their sleeves and work to make the dream a reality. People like Theodore Roosevelt, and the brazen Marquis de Mores, and Medora herself who, while the epitome of a fine lady, could pick off fast-moving small game a from atop her steed, leaving her hunting partners astounded.

Of course like Harold and Sheila. Like Medora's first General Manager, Rod Tjaden and his wife, Sandy, like "Gentleman" Wade Westin, "Cowboy" Lyle Glass, like former North Dakota Governor (and Medora Musical stuntman!), Ed Schafer, and the hundreds of others who have come through Medora and made positive waves for the futre.

We look to them to guide our path forward and try to honor them each day with our work in Medora.

Coming soon: Rod Tjaden Video
Coming soon: Wade Westin's making the Medora Musical
Coming soon: Cowboy Lyle Glass

 

 

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