FONTANELLE — When Toby Bower isn’t in the gym shooting hoops or on the cross country course crushing the competition, it’s likely you’ll find the Fontanelle teen in his shop making wooden creations.
Bower has long had a love and a knack for woodworking. During the pandemic, with little else to do, Bower began working on projects and began getting interest from people wanting to buy what he was making. The result has been a small side business for him to earn a little extra money as he prepares for his senior year at Nodaway Valley High School and looks toward post secondary options.
Bower remembers his dad, Mark, remodeling their house and remodeling a big barn when he was younger, and that had an early impression on him.
“I remember being around the environment [of woodworking] at a young age, my dad telling me you’ve gotta be careful with this or you’ve gotta watch what you’re doing with that, just learning little tricks and things like that,” Bower said. “I am very fortunate we have a lot of the tools here I can work with and I don’t have to go out and rent tools or anything like that.”
Bower was able to take a woodworking class at Creston Community High School his freshman year which he explained expanded his exposure to various tools and methods he hadn’t yet considered.
This school year he took a class at Southwestern Community College where he and his classmates were building a house that will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. The pandemic cut the class short but Bower said he has seen his professor at the college working to finish that house. The students were on pace to finish the project, had classes not been cut short.
“I got a lot of experience hanging out with other guys learning how to work with each other, learning new skills. It was upsetting that we didn’t get to finish it because of school getting out early, but I think I am going to take it again next year to get some more college credits,” Bower said. “Hopefully I can learn more from that then.”
Bower said that when the quarantine began he was inspired by one of his teachers who told students that if school was going to get out early they shouldn’t just “sit around.” That led him to building projects such as cut-outs of the state of Iowa, wooden yard games like giant Yahtzee or bags sets, and more. He has a Facebook page called Bower Woodworking that he is selling his creations from.
“I wasn’t even expecting anyone to respond but people have been asking me to do stuff, so that’s awesome,” Bower said. “My dad’s taught me a lot of what I know but then these classes have really helped me with learning some things maybe he didn’t even know. He learned himself like most people do.”