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Construction starts on 4-H dairy barn

4-H members and supporters gathered on May 1 in front of the new dairy barn at the Stevens County Fairgrounds. Front row: from let, Ahna Heins, Karsten Heins and Cowan Mortenson. Middle row, Brad Heins, Samantha Schaefer, Kaleb Heins, Taryn Picht, Julie Picht and Natasha Mortenson. Back row, Paul Mahoney, Dean Meichsner and Kristin Koch. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
Baxter Construction of Graceville works on the new dairy barn on May 1 at the Stevens County Fairgrounds. From left, Jon Dobmeier, Adam Baxter and Steve Young install a pole for the frame of the barn. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

A group of 4-H members and adults stood by the site of a new dairy barn on the Stevens County Fairgrounds.

Construction had just started earlier during the week of April 30. Several poles had been installed to frame the building.

"It will be pretty cool to have our own barn," 4-H member Kaleb Heins said.

Heins has been involved in the county dairy project since he was 6 years old. Stevens County 4-H has a partner program with Riverview Dairy that allows youth to lease dairy calves from the business. Heins said that program has helped to increase the number of dairy exhibitors at the fair.

County 4-H coordinator Kristin Koch has said the dairy program needs its own space.

Serena Schaefer is leasing dairy cows from a family friend. Schaefer's goal is to try and exhibit every animal in the 4-H program.

"My dad used to show dairy cows," Schaefer said. "He met a lot of people..."

She's a bit skeptical about how much room the new dairy barn will have for exhibitors. "Three-fourths of it will be for all learning things...," Schaefer said.

The new dairy barn will have educational displays, Koch has said. The barn will also include a milking parlor demonstration.

Taryn Picht, a 4-H member, likes the plan for a milking parlor. "It will be good for kids to learn that," Picht said of a milking demonstration.

A donation from AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Morris was instrumental in making the new barn possible, said Natasha Mortenson who is a Riverview employee and also involved as a parent in the 4-H dairy program.

"AgCountry, in general here in Stevens County is very supportive of 4-H," said Paul Mahoney of AgCountry.

It's important to invest in youth in general and in youth agriculture activities for the future of the region and the future of the bank, said Dean Meichsner of AgCountry.

The main focus of the new barn will be as a dairy barn during the fair but the building will also be constructed for year-round use for 4-H activities and other community activities.