JD Bumgarner has a special appreciation for scrap metal that many overlook. The Spencer High School senior has developed a love for welding - thanks to a 4-H challenge, encouragement from family members, and his My Choice Transition Specialist, Ryan Jenness.
My Choice is an employment division of Hope Haven, and Transition Specialists support students in finding work opportunities, work experience, and/or career planning, among a variety of other vocational activities. “It helped even more to have a mentor like Ryan,” observes JD’s mother Hope Bumgarner. “We’re very thankful for him.”
While JD at times finds aspects of schoolwork challenging due to Cerebral Palsy and a learning disability, he shines in many other avenues - including creative tasks. “He can really see things that other people can’t,” notes Hope. “He has that artistic eye.”
Working with a Transition Specialist like Ryan has aided JD in identifying his strengths, and exploring job opportunities that match those gifts. “Working with JD has been a blessing to me because I have been able to see his growth through the years. It’s great to be a small part of his transition from high school to adulthood,” comments Jenness.
Since working with Ryan, JD has obtained jobs like cleaning up at the ballpark and washing dishes at the local golf course. Additionally, JD has been investing time and effort into his talents with welding.
JD first encountered welding as part of a 4H “Bucket of Junk” welding challenge a few years ago. His parents were in awe of what he created, and provided JD with welding equipment and even a new workspace at home to help foster this newfound interest.
Today, JD continues to hone his skills and now transforms scrap metal into one-of-a-kind pieces of art. JD advertises his work on his Facebook page, “JD’s Creations” and makes a number of custom orders. Check it out on Facebook here.
JD is currently mapping out his future with the help of Ryan and his supportive family. He’s exploring secondary education options and possible career avenues that involve his talent of welding, along with other strengths. “JD has a lot of family support behind him and then I saw his confidence grow within his job and his welding skills,” remarks Jenness. “JD has a bright future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see his new creations!
See below for a letter from JD himself:
Hi, my name is JD Bumgarner and I have Cerebral Palsy and a learning disability, but that has not stopped me from finding my passion, which is being creative. I have always been interested in designing and drawing things. Even when I was little, I would help my Dad put things together without having to look at the directions, which is a good thing since I have trouble reading. School and learning, especially math, reading and writing have always been hard for me because of my Cerebral Palsy, which is a brain injury. Cerebral Palsy, because it is a brain injury, makes it harder for me to process information quickly, which is why my favorite types of classes have always been art classes, where I get to use my creativity. I enjoy finding new ways of being creative and was excited to discover welding.
I started to weld as part of the 4H Bucket of Junk Challenge a few years ago. The first piece I created was one that I called “Herky or Cy?”. My parents were in awe of what I created out of a bucket of junk. The next year, I created a Beagle and a bunny. And most recently, I created a tractor from the bucket of junk. My parents already knew that I was very creative and good at designing things on paper, but now I had a new way to be creative through welding. I have learned that my brain works differently, which isn’t a bad thing because it helps me see and create art out of buckets of junk. I like to think that I am giving new life to junk that would have been thrown away.
My parents bought me a welder and welding equipment for Christmas, which I started to use right away. Once Covid 19 hit and schools were cancelled, I started welding even more. I took one of my first pieces, the “Iron Indian”, to the high school art show at Arts on Grand and it won the “Curator’s Choice Award” and was the first piece of art that I sold. I am blessed to have supportive parents who encourage and help me use my creativity.
I came to live with my Mom and Dad when I was 27 months old as part of the foster care system. My biological sister, Chloe and I were adopted by them a few years later. I also have a younger brother, Nate and two beagles at home. My entire family enjoys helping me with my welding. My Mom created a Facebook page called JD’s Creations and posts and sells my pieces there. Both my Mom and Dad help me polish and clean the pieces of junk before and after I weld them. I’ve even taught my Mom, younger sister and brother to weld. I really enjoy working with my family on my different projects - it has brought us all closer together. I am very blessed and thankful that I get to do what I love.