Trevor Hawkins, a life-long resident of Lake Lotawana, has been filmmaking professionally for 13 years. His short film Lotawana On Ice was published in National Geographic, and a few years ago he was hired by the President of Rwanda to rebrand Rwanda’s image and make a tourism video. He just completed his first feature film, Lotawana, along side producers Nathan Kincaid and Cori Jo Hawkins, with soundtrack created by Lee’s Summit’s Ryan Pinkston. When he’s not filmmaking, Hawkins can be found rehabilitating wildlife with his wife, Cori Jo.
How did you get your start in filmmaking?
In high school, I picked up my mom’s VHS camcorder and began making films of my friends wakeboarding and skateboarding. I have always been artistic, and everything just clicked for me when I discovered filmmaking. All of a sudden my life made sense, and I was obsessed.
One of the things that helped bring me opportunities was, although I’m not a hunter myself, a hunting show I created with Shawn Luchtel and Mike Hunsucker called Heartland Bowhunter. I’m grateful that it’s widely acknowledged as the show that dramatically reformed the creative and story-telling standards of the hunting television industry and turned into one of the most popular, top-viewed hunting shows on television.
What inspires you?
I’m a big biology, paleontology and bird nerd. One of the other films I’m currently working on is a full-length documentary spanning several years of production with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science about the importance and neglect of science in much of the world’s mainstream popular culture. It also features the discovery of a new dinosaur species that I captured and got to help dig out of the ground.
What was tough about the journey to where you are now?
My advice is easy to give, but it’s not what most people want to hear: tenacity. Every day is a hustle and it always will be. Anyone who is self-owned can tell you that. It’s not an easy path. I’ve gotten to shoot for a lot of big names like, ESPN, RedBull, Ford, AMC Theatres, Bass Pro Shops, Stella Artois, Heineken, Boulevard Brewing Co., and more, but commercial work isn’t my true passion. However it does pay the bills and allows me to afford things like making a movie. I’m very thankful for the ride so far, but hopefully one day it’ll all pay off, and I’ll be able to work on movies and shooting wildlife full time.
To see more of Trevor Hawkins’ work visit
For Lee’s Summit’s Terrance Dennis, participating in sports was an instrumental part of getting him through the tough times in life. After playing Division 1 football for the University of Missouri, and testing the waters of professional football, he has turned his love of sports and mentorship into a way of giving back to youth through coaching.
In what way did sports have an impact on your life?
Growing up, I was always searching to find where I best fit in. Football taught me to keep going. It was what I would consider a divine and strategic plan to put father figures in my life at just the right points where I needed them to be. Many of the people I tried to impress in the absence of a father were my coaches. When my stepfather left us, I asked to talk to my high school coach, Coach Kruse. I remember the powerful moment of him calling in Coach Coffman, a man who played in the NFL, and both prayed for me. I love sports because of lessons like these. I had an outlet and passion for sports where I could channel emotions and energy into something productive and was able to make something out of one of the most challenging points in my young life.
What is your philosophy as a coach and a mentor to kids?
As a mentor, it’s simple. Be there, be available, and be consistent. The thing I find interesting about mentorship is that not only is there the accountability to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do in modeling the success you seek to see, but in turn, you can never be too proud to learn something from them. I’ve learned more about myself in working with young people. It’s an excellent gut check for anyone in a position of leadership.
If you want to get where you’ve never been, you need to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable with excuses and mediocrity. And finally, stop comparing. Nobody else can do what you do, the way you do it. The team needs the best you.
Any advice to coaches out there working with kids?
Be creative and find ways to engage the whole kid, not just the athletic part. At the end of the day if there’s one solid shred of advice I could give, it would be to make a lifelong decision in this very short time, to win for something greater than yourself.
Phil Hopper, an avid sports-lover and lead pastor at Abundant Life Church, played Division 1 college football at the University of Kansas and continues to enjoy sports of all kinds. He enjoys spending time outdoors on his farm, going on trips with his family, and spending time with his three grown children. He and his wife, Christa, have been married for 27 years and have been serving the Lee’s Summit area together for many years.
Tell us how you became connected to the Lee’s Summit community.
My connection to Lee’s Summit began 19 years ago when the small church I was attending suddenly found itself without a pastor. I was working in law enforcement at the time as a member of the KCPD. It’s what I thought I would always do until the phone rang one Tuesday night in September of 1999 when I was informed that our pastor had resigned, and they needed someone to preach on Sunday. I showed up at church that Sunday thinking it would be “one and done.” I couldn’t have imagined that five months later the board would invite me to be their full-time pastor. In March of 2000, I went to bed a cop and woke up as the pastor of a church and changed the name to Abundant Life.
How do you give back to the Lee’s Summit community?
Last year, our food pantry gave away 600,000 pounds of groceries to approximately 4,000 families in our area. Additionally, we have a backpack program where we receive empty backpacks belonging to Lee’s Summit students and send them back full of food to nourish students who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat over the weekend. We serve our city at the annual Downtown Days in June by literally taking out the trash. Instead of setting up a tent at Downtown Days to advertise our church, we are there to serve.
What aspects do you enjoy most about being connected to the people in our community?
The aspect I enjoy most about being connected to the people of our community is just that – community. It’s having a sense of shared community and being connected relationally with many amazing people. I have watched Lee’s Summit grow and change in so many ways in 19 years, and there are many reasons so many people want to live in Lee’s Summit today. The school system is, of course, one of the highest ranked educational systems in the state. Today, unlike 19 years ago, our city is alive with great shopping opportunities and many wonderful restaurants. But what is sometimes not so obvious is the contribution churches make to this community. Families are the fabric of society and the backbone of every community. And when churches are strong, it makes the families stronger, healthier and happier.