Collins-Maxwell students offer opinions on barn preservation

Ronna LawlessStaff Writer
Collins-Maxwell students offer opinions on barn preservation

Fifth-graders at Collins-Maxwell elementary have been working on a project about barns this year. It’s been part of the school district’s effort to implement competency-based education (CBE).

The barn project included tours of area barns and research on topics involving Iowa’s historic barns. In January, each student in C-M’s two fifth-grade classes finished an individual project.

The students were led by their teachers, Maxine Harms and Lois Gross, but the students themselves decided what route to take for their projects. There were a variety of barn replicas, scrapbooks, drawings, tri-fold presentations and other projects.

Each student’s project went on display for several weeks at the Nevada Historical Society. Now, the project is culminating with the students writing persuasive essays on whether they believe barns should be preserved or not.

Payton Steele is in favor of preserving barns. “Barns are unique and we are losing 1,000 barns each year,” Steele said. “We were at 220,000 barns 96 years ago, now we are at 60,000 barns right now! That means that we have lost 160,000 in 96 years! That is a lot of barns!”

“Also barns have architecture, being one of the first storage units on the planet,” said Colin Post. “Barns also show a country-like appearance to anyone traveling.”

Juan Ramirez pointed out that “barns are getting saved and used as houses, places for people to go and get married, they are places for kids to play hide and seek and many more games.”

“Barns are history for us. Please don’t take our barns from us!” Ramirez said.

Koleton Goering agreed it’s important to preserve Iowa’s barns. “‘Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art.’ This is a quote by Stanislaw Jerzey. It could be about rebuilding barns,” Goering said.

“If barns were all gone worldwide that would be super, super weird and also very creepy,” he added. “So save them or build new ones. If you can’t have enough money to make the new one, then why don’t you help rebuild someone’s barn.”

Connor Barfels said: “We need barns for many reasons. One reason is for events. We need them for events because it will keep people happy. It is also important to keep heritage to remind you of your ancestors. It’s good for memories. What I mean it is a reminder of those events to keep life full of happiness.”

Marrissa Kellogg wrote about several reasons to preserve interesting barns. “My last reason, but not least reason, is barns are an important historic thing found in most states that we might still have,” she said. “Certain barn styles were built by the first settlers when they came from the ‘Old World’ using what they knew from back home.”

“Barns are part of our past and future. What happens today will change the future,” said William Booth. “‘For over 300 years, from 1650 to 1950, the all-purpose barn was the central work,’ according to Ober J. Anderson,” Booth said. “… Iowa is losing over 1,000 barns a year and losing more every year.”

Braden Thompson thought barns should be preserved because: “They hold history, which will tell you what heritage they have. Like German barns have quilts on them; they were the first to paint designs on them.”

Some students came to the conclusion that barns should not be saved.

“Although some people believe barns should be preserved, I must argue that they should not because old barns could be dangerous,” said Kelsey Lopez. “What if you lived by an old, wrecked barn and your kids decide to go exploring and get hurt? You don’t want to take that risk, do you?”

“Today I’m going to argue with the fact that old barns should be preserved,” said Haley Jones. “First of all, it’s too much money to replace them with another structure because you have to buy and replace the wood and the shingles. Also people need the wood to build house and places for people.”

Meyaurah Pratt is concerned that old barns may pose dangers to animals. “Connecting to what Haven Miller said in a University of Kentucky’s New Releases 2016 report, ‘Obsolete pesticides left and forgotten in unused barns and other farm buildings can pose a danger to cattle and other livestock if some of these old chemical products are ingested, cattle can get sick or even die.’” Pratt said.

Dane Beattie believes barns should be preserved because of the memories they hold for people who grew up on farms. “Barns (besides the American flag) are one of the most recognized symbols of the U.S.,” Beattie said, “so when we destroy them, it’s almost like we’re throwing part of our history away.”