BY JACLYN ROSE –
Pam Ferguson grew up in the west, an avid equestrian, she loved horses and rodeos and riding club. After losing her younger sister, her family felt the need to leave Casa Grade, Arizona and moved to Rich Mountain, where her father was raised. Ferguson started Acorn High School, where her entire school was the size of her former freshman class. “It was definitely culture shock. Even in the 1960’s it was very different out west, I was so tan and had real long hair and wore jeans and boots everywhere, I didn’t fit in very well here at first,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson met her husband Travis in 1969 right after he arrived home from Vietnam and the couple married in 1970, 44 years ago. “The key to a long and happy marriage is lots of patience and understanding, mainly on the part of my husband,” said Ferguson with a grin. “He has always been the stable one.”
The couple has two children, Amy and Craig, and two grandchildren, Jake and Tate. “Amy is a blessing and she has been since the day she was born. She is the nearest thing to a perfect child and honestly never gave us a bit of trouble. Craig, well, he made up for it,” Ferguson said with a laugh. “He pushes everything to the limit.” Craig has recently gone into complete kidney failure and will need a transplant. The family takes turns driving back and forth to Nebraska, where they assist him in any way they can.
After 36 years of raising broiler chickens for Tyson Foods, they retired two years ago, and Ferguson now manages six cabins, owned by the Fergusons and her daughter, at Wolf Pen Gap, The Outback Cabins and Macks Creek Cabins.
Passionate about Wolf Pen Gap ATV System, Ferguson is the secretary/treasurer of the Ouachita ATV Club, where she has worked for the past five years, writing grants and assisting the Ouachita Forest Service in any way possible to maintain the trails. “We work very closely with the Mena Chamber of Commerce and together we did an economic impact study and learned at that Wolf Pen Gap brings in $78,000,000 annually to Polk County,” explained Ferguson.
The Ouachita ATV Club has over 450 members from all over the United States, each of which uses and enjoys the beautiful trails in Polk County. They have, through grant monies, purchased several pieces of equipment which have been donated, or are used by the Ouachita Forest Service to maintain and improve the trails, they have also bought and maintain 12 bear proof trash cans and are in the process of pouring cement planks on all the creek crossings. The Club was recently awarded a $224,700 Federal RTB Grant, which is funded by the fuel tax paid by ATV drivers. This will be used to rebuild the current trail service, with the hopes to narrow the footprint. Ferguson, along with club members Tim Kiser, Roger Morphew, and Jeff Cunningham were awarded the Southern Region Volunteer of the Year for the Forest Service three years ago. They have spent countless hours working to maintain and improve Wolf Pen Gap.
“Right after Amy was born, my parents moved back out west, and around the time Craig was born, I noticed on trips to visit my family, how bad things had gotten out there. I saw old friends and how things were and prayed to God and thanked Him for getting me out of there. I wonder at times where I would be if we hadn’t moved here. I am very thankful God moved me to Polk County and very thankful I raised my kids here. I love the calmness and friendliness of the people. It’s kind of like everyone is family. It is a wonderful, small, and quiet community,” explained Ferguson.