Buffalo Chip News

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Sturgis, SD (March 4, 2015) – A record number of ambitious Black Hills high school students are racing toward a handsome scholarship prize as part of the 2015 Buffalo Chip Challenge, a program designed to teach custom bike building skills. The Challenge program has seen a significant increase in student participation this year thanks in part to $8,500 in scholarship funds that are on the line. Rod Woodruff, President of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip®, offered the scholarships as a way to encourage local students to participate in the program, continue their education and return to the area to help grow the emerging custom motorcycle building industry. Nineteen students from three area high schools have accepted this challenge by registering for the program and participating on a regular basis.

Three students will receive scholarships based upon participation in and commitment to the program, as well as plans for continuing their education. Woodruff will award $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third. Students who participate in activities supporting the bike-building program are also eligible. For the first time in the program’s 7 years, students from the journalism, photography and art classes have been putting in extra hours recording build progress with photos and video, posting on social media and creating a 20-foot wide, hand-painted display for the Challenge bikes’ unveiling at the Donnie Smith Bike Show in an effort to win one of the scholarships.  

“I look at this program as a way to help area students succeed while helping build the Black Hills economy at the same time,” said Rod Woodruff. “Several custom-motorcycle-related businesses have taken root in the area as a result of the annual rally. Giving these kids an opportunity to learn the ropes from the best in the business gives them a leg up, and the scholarships help ensure they can afford to further their education in pursuit of the work they love. If these students come back and work for a Black Hills shop or start one of their own, we all win. We are building an industry and helping students obtain the skills they need to find good-paying, local jobs.” 

For the first time ever, the Buffalo Chip Challenge is open to all Black Hills area high school students. All instruction takes place at Sturgis Brown High School, but students from Spearfish and Lead-Deadwood have also joined the program.

“We have been very impressed with the participation this year,” said Chad Hedderman, Sturgis Brown High School welding program instructor. “These kids are very dedicated--coming to all of the classes and working outside of regular class time, after school on Thursday and every Saturday. Several of the kids commute from Spearfish and Lead-Deadwood, and many are underclassmen. Unlike past years, no one student is standing out this year; they are all really excited to be part of the build.” 

In its seventh year, the Buffalo Chip Challenge is a collaboration between private business and the public school system, working together to provide students with opportunities they otherwise would be unable to enjoy. In addition to the potential for scholarships, this year’s students have the rare opportunity to work with a team of the industry’s top custom bike builders including Paul Yaffe, John Shope, Nick Trask, Dave Perewitz, Keith Terry, Nick Cramer, Randy Cramer and Chris Malo. 

Over the years, Buffalo Chip Challenge participants have proved they had learned the skills to put them on par with some of the world’s best builders by winning first place in the Full Custom Bagger Open Class and Overall Best Display at the Donnie Smith Bike Show and first place in the Full Custom Bagger category and Best Custom Paint Job at the Black Hills Bike Show.

Special thanks to Baggsters, Arlen Ness Enterprises, Hot Leathers, C.P. Carrillo, Dakota Digital, Dave Mackie Engineering, Diamond Heads, Danny Gray, Feuling Parts, Handy Enterprises, Hawg Halters, Inc., Horsepower, Inc., Hoffman, Jamie Repair, Legend Suspension, Owens Interstate Sales, RC Components, Thunder Cycle, Thunder Max, Trask Performance, Jack Van Kampen and Vee Rubber America for providing parts for the program.

Follow the Buffalo Chip Challenge on the Sturgis Legends Ride Facebook page to see photos, videos and articles updating the public on the project’s progress. 

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