A $2,500 grant kickstarts fund-raising effort to replace damaged siding and restore animal pens

SETH GORDON - St. Paul junior Ethan Garofalo pitches some hay during a recent work day at the FFA program's barn, which is getting a bit of a makeover thanks to grants from Wilco and Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Thanks to a pair of grants, the St. Paul High School FFA club is working to upgrade the barn it operates across the street from the school.

The program is already putting a $1,500 grant from Wilco to good use, adding new fencing that will allow more of the animals housed at the barn to use the adjacent pasture area.

Some of those funds were used to purchase metal partitions to help upgrade the interior pens at the barn, which FFA advisor Kristi Duyck said will make the space more flexible for housing various student projects.

Continuing work on the pens will be part of a larger work project to make improvements to the barn over the next year.

That effort will also include work on the exterior of the barn, redoing some of the barn's windows and doors and fixing some electrical and plumbing issues.

Duyck estimated the project will top $25,000, but the program recently received a $2,500 grant from Northwest Farm Credit Services to kick off its fundraising push.

"It gives us a great head start because in order for us to remodel the barn and do everything we need to, it is going to cost a lot," junior Taysha Veeman said. "It's great that we had people donate to us."

Duyck said current FFA juniors have made completing the barn upgrades a priority for their senior year; Veeman has elected to make part of the effort her senior project.

"It's good to have animals here right now, but there definitely needs to be upgrades to the barn so that it's easier for us when we come over here and take care of them and a safer and better environment for the animals," Veeman said.

A lot of the exterior work planned will involve removing damaged boards and siding, which will be replaced with tin.

"It will protect from the rain since we get a lot around here," Veeman said. "It will be better insulated for the animals in the winter."

Another major aspect of the project will be repairing some of the building's doors.

"It will be really helpful to have it fixed up," junior Ethan Garofalo said. "It will make it even more enjoyable to spend time here."

Those interested in supporting the project may email Duyck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

St. Paul FFA is also preparing to host its annual banquet, which will be held at 12:30 p.m. May 6 at the St. Paul Elementary School.

"We will have a silent auction that our newly-formed alumni chapter is running," Duyck said. "Those funds will help with banquet costs and to start a fund within the alumni for scholarships for FFA senior members in the future."

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