Henderson, Minn.-- Although he is retired, one Minnesota high school teacher still instructs students. Only now he shares his gift of woodcarving. 
 For two and a half years, Ollie Heitkamp has been sharing his knowledge to the Ney Nature Center Carving Club. A longtime outdoorsman and duck hunter, he first carved a wooden bird for a cousin. When the gift got damaged years later, Heitkamp got back into the activity in order to fix it.
"And I kept on trying to make them better and collected more information for how to do it. Bought some books and tools and got ahold of the wood and just kept on doing this." said Heitkamp.

For the past 40 years, he has perfected his wooden carvings, specializing in something he is passionate about, birds. He tells students to be knowledgeable about a subject they would like to carve.

"I start out by telling them that you got to plan ahead because you need to know where you want to end up." Heitkamp said.

He says you only need two tools in order to get into carving, a lock-back pocketknife and a chisel. Despite the simplicity, Heitkamp recommends carving for those 12 and up.

"You got to be strong enough to be able to push that chisel and shave off chips from the surface." said the former science teacher from Belle Plaine, "Otherwise you just struggle a lot with chewing out little bits and it gets discouraging."

After being around woodworking for decades, he notices subtleties that define each carver's style.

"It's a nice calming hobby. It's very soothing and you end up having accomplished something." concluded Heitkamp.

He has passed his passion for carving on to his son-in-law and plans to give his equipment to him when he is finally done with his craft.

-KEYC News 12