Rain, snow, freezing temperatures and howling winds – it didn’t matter what the weather was doing. The students were there, nailing shingle, cutting trim, and helping to take the Eastman’s Corner goat barn from a plan on paper to a physical reality.
This is what “strong community” looks like at Eastman’s Corner. When The Farm found itself in need of a barn, it looked for a partner that would gain more than just a job from the project, and found that in the Seacoast School of Technology.
The SST curriculum is all about taking skills out of the classroom and into the real world. Culinary arts students run a part-time restaurant. Education students help out at the school’s in-house daycare. And for the kids studying building construction, the school looks for projects in the community that will give the students invaluable hands-on experience.
Partnering with SST turned the barn project into a vehicle for education. Under the close guidance of their teacher, Jim Klingensmith, youths drawn from high schools throughout the surrounding towns put their knowledge to work to create a new resource for the community.
“I can show them on a chalkboard how to do most of the stuff, but until they do it physically, I cannot say that they can do it,” Klingensmith says. “The goat barn project was a huge help for them. It helped prepare them for when they go to work in the real world.”
Ask the students about their work at Eastman’s Corner, and the pride and enthusiasm are clear. “I loved everything about it,” says Trevor Perkins, an Exeter High School senior who worked on the project. In Klingensmith’s class, students are expected to try their hand at every aspect of the building process, from framing and siding to roofing and trim. For Perkins, the most challenging work was also the most exciting. “I loved being up there on a thirty foot ladder, holding onto a twelve-foot piece of wood and nailing it onto the studs.”
Fellow senior Tyler Dutile speaks of the power of watching a new space come to life under his hands. “We started out having problems, not having the right materials or having everything line up – there’s always trouble on a job site – but in the end, it looks amazing. That’s the best part about it – going from start to finish, seeing the end product.”
Though the construction was completed months ago, it’s only recently that the project received the final, finishing touch: its residents. A small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Goats arrived at The Farm in early September, and have been making themselves at home in their new barn and paddock. Though the barn has room for up to fifteen, the Eastman’s Corner family started with five. “This is a learning experience for us as well,” says Rich Colburn, The Farm’s Head of Agriculture.
Visitors to The Farm will be welcome to come say hello and to learn more about what’s involved in keeping the goats healthy and happy. “Caring for animals is a lot more delicate than you’d think,” Colburn says. “You have to be very specific.”
When told about the arrival of the goats, the SST students express excitement about seeing their hard work put to good use. “Completing a project like this shows the kids what they have truly been able to accomplish,” Klingensmith says. At Eastman’s Corner, we couldn’t be happier to have made that possible.
– Jacquelyn Benson