AMES, Iowa -- 4-H and FFA members in Hardin County are using hand-held Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to map area barns for a book.
The first group of middle and high school students recently completed surveying and photographing farmsteads for the Barns of Hardin County. More youth will continue mapping barns this summer.
Project organizers hope the book, a historic resource inventory, will be completed by the end of 2006. The book will include a survey sheet and short history of each farmstead and photos. Every barn that is found in Hardin County during the survey period and as many of the ghost barns (barns that have been torn down) as youth can map will be documented in the historic resource inventory. A copy of the book will be available for reference use at the Hardin County office of Iowa State University Extension and the State Historic Preservation Office in Des Moines.
"It is important to map the barns so future historians can gain an understanding of how many barns we have left and so policy and decision makers can start to formulate plans to assist in the preservation of these buildings," said Rod Scott, co-chair of the Barns of Hardin County.
Youth had the opportunity to combine learning about barns and modern technology while gathering information for the book.
Jim Sweeney, a 16-year-old 4-H'er, used a GPS hand-held for the first time to map Hardin County barns. He also learned about the history and construction of barns while working on the project.
"I enjoyed looking at the barns and all the different types of architecture," said Sweeney.
"They've developed a better appreciation of historic architecture, farming and family farms," said Scott. "Many 4-H and FFA members are now from towns and have become disconnected from firsthand knowledge of farming. In the past, most of these youth lived in the country. Performing this survey gives youth a better appreciation of their heritage and a desire to help to see these buildings preserved."
Project organizers are considering publishing a coffee table book or calendars featuring photographs of Hardin County barns taken by 4-H and FFA members. All proceeds from the sale of these items would be donated to 4-H and FFA.
Youth have already benefited from the Barns of Hardin County through participating in the project, said Scott.
Carol Ouverson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-9640, firstname.lastname@example.org