Eleven high school students in a classroom in Sidney, Iowa, are embarking on a unique venture that will bring to closure an important project for Fremont County. When finished they will have built for the community something that their children will take pride in relating the story to their children.
Today’s attic tells you what is happening with enthusiastic young people who are finding a way to learn new skills, stretch their creativity, and share in exciting stories about real people and events from the area’s past.
In late 2006, the Historical Society began working to renovate its current building and also to build a new museum. We planned for the project, when finished, to tell the story of Iowa’s Championship Rodeo and create new exhibits to tell the important stories of the County. Now into its eighth year, the project is close to being completed.
During the seven-and-half-years that the Society has worked on this project numerous successes have been followed by problems. The biggest setback was the storm of August 2011 that did major damage to the older building as well as the new building. Years of fundraising plagued by ever increasing costs made it hard to raise the final funds needed.
Difficult times require creative solutions; the last few months were one of those times. Loess Hills Solutions (LHS), a non-profit headquartered in Sidney, is implementing a USDA Rural Development grant to establish a model for training a new rural work force. Part of its mission is to help high school students experience real world work and to understand the many options available to them.
It became apparent that this was a time when the two projects could come together. The result is a class at the Sidney high school. The project of this semester course is to assist in finishing the exhibits at the museum as the students work in teams and learn new exciting skills to complete the tasks. Some of these skills include: measurements, estimating costs, selection of materials and construction techniques. Students will also work with our museum designer, Will Thompson. Mr. Thompson is a University of Iowa instructor in museum design. He will instruct the class on how to develop the exhibits, choose the artifacts, develop the graphics and set up the displays. They will also learn from a master carpenter and from many individuals engaged in occupations that touch the project. A sample of the certification training they will complete includes 1.) Introductory OSHA, 2,) Ladder Safety and 3.) Power tools.
The class has just started and already the students are bringing energy and fresh suggestions to the entire project. They are coming up with ideas that will capture the interest of all ages and they are stepping up with enthusiasm. The exhibits from this partnership will be ready for public viewing on Memorial Day weekend May 24-26, when the museum reopens. Mark your calendars and get ready to enjoy the results.