Shannon McNerney and Rich Wandschneider in Fishtrap’s space.

Eastern Oregon

Fund Honors a Legacy of Service

Rich Wandschneider launched Fishtrap in Enterprise in 1988 as a gathering for Western writers. It’s now a regional institution, offering workshops, residencies and events for writers and readers of all backgrounds.

“Everybody has a story to tell,” says Executive Director Shannon McNerney. “And this is a safe place to do that.” When Rich stepped down in 2008, Fishtrap struggled to fi nd a new identity, hiring five directors before Shannon’s arrival in 2015.

During the pandemic, Shannon realized it was time to sell Fishtrap’s iconic but cramped Coffin House, which it purchased in 2000 with help from OCF: “We decided the house was there to serve the organization, not the other
way around.”

“It’s so rare in a nonprofit that a new director can come in and consider the founder a mentor, but that’s what I have. Every major decision we’ve made as an organization, Rich has been involved in. And he’s somebody we still go to now.”

Shannon McNerny, Executive Director, Fishtrap
Rich Wandschneider at the Josephy Library of Western History and Culture.

Rich Wandschneider at the Josephy Library of Western History and Culture.

Fishtrap moved to a 4,000-square-foot space in the 1899 Bowlby building, which includes event seating for 100. Opting to finance renovations through donations and grants, they used the sale proceeds to build reserve funds, enlarge their OCF endowment fund, and surprise Rich with a new endowment to help ensure that OCF’s investing and planned giving expertise will support Fishtrap writers and readers in perpetuity. “Summer 2022 was our 35th gathering,” Shannon explains. “So we put $35,000 toward the Wandschneider Family Fund honoring Rich and his ex-wife, Judy.”

Beyond Fishtrap, Rich’s remarkable legacy of service to Eastern Oregon includes directing the Josephy Library in Joseph and serving as a founding and continuing board member of the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland. As he sees it, he’s simply living out the values he learned in the Peace Corps: “Do a lot of listening to see where your talents meet what’s going on in the community. If you want to do something for other people, the opportunities are there.”