Yreka alums share memories as old farm barn comes down to make way for bigger, better barn

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
The Yreka High School farm barn was built in 1994 by teacher Harry Sampson and his students. On Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 it was knocked down to make way for a new barn.

While the Yreka High School farm barn building has been torn down to make way for a new one, the memories will live on in those who helped build it.

The original barn was built in 1994 by agriculture teacher Harry Sampson and his students. 

YHS agriculture instructor/ FFA adviser Jean Wood graduated from the school in 1997 and was one of the students who helped build the original barn. 

"It's bittersweet," she said about it being torn down on Nov. 22 by Mike Peters Construction. "We built that old barn by hand."  

Wood said signatures of the students who helped build the barn were etched in the structure's concrete blocks. The good news is the new barn will provide more room for the ever-growing FFA and agriculture program at the school, she said. The plan is for the new barn to be raised by the end of February.  

Mark Peacemaker Construction, based in Montague, will build the new barn. Wood said that Peacemaker was a YHS student in 1994 and helped put up the barn. 

Today, a structure built by teachers and students for their use could not happen due to stricter building regulations, Wood said. 

Wood said, looking back, it was a gratifying experience to put up a building the entire school would use because of the pride of ownership she and her fellow students gained. 

A need for a new barn

Students work on the foundation of the farm barn at Yreka High School back in 1994.

In recent years, the poultry program has grown at YHS, and room was becoming scarce, Wood said. Due to biocontamination concerns and birds of different species needing to be separated, educators had to find alternatives. For that reason, individual pens were built and housed at locations throughout the school. 

The new barn will have more space to house animals, Wood said. She said the students will be able to house multiple species, such as turkeys and meat birds, which are growing in popularity in school programs. 

Wood said the YHS program teaches students valuable skills and appreciation of agriculture and a greater understanding of what it takes to bring all the food that goes to your table. She said only about 2% of students go on to an agriculture-related career, but giving students an inside look at what it takes to raise an animal or grow something is invaluable. 

She added that students in the school's metal fabrication class are building all the pens for the new barn. 

"We're excited to continue the tradition of teaching agriculture and FFA here no matter the career paths our students eventually take," Wood said, 

'Everyone helped out'

Lisa Mott of Montague, a 1995 YHS graduate, was part of the FFA and raised pigs in the old barn.

She remembered when her sow gave birth to piglets, and she and her fellow FFA students were present for the birth. Mott had to pull out a piglet who got stuck.  

In a photo from the Yreka High School 1995 yearbook, Lisa Mott assists new born piglets in finding their mother.

"It was a group effort, where everyone helped out," Mott said. She said they shared duties, so some days she had tasks, like helping feed sheep.

Her daughter, Breanne Hands, who graduated from YHS in 2021, also took part in FFA. 

Mott said she saw first-hand the program's positive impacts on students.  

"It's a great experience for students to take care of animals," she said. 

While glad the school is getting a new barn to help the program expand, she said it is bittersweet not having the old barn where so many fond memories reside. 

A photo of where the farm barn at Yreka High once stood.

"We learned a lot in that barn taking care of our animals," she said. 

Jess Bray, a social studies teacher at YHS, who also teaches an agriculture mechanics class, helped with the expansion of the farm building in 1997.   

 "There were a lot of good memories," he said. "We were fortunate to help build something that lasted for future generations." 

Bray is excited for the school to get a new barn building where students can also make memories. 

"It's going to be really nice," he said. 

Bill Choy covers sports and general news for the Siskiyou Daily News/Mount Shasta Herald/USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at@SDNBillChoy. Email Bill at bchoy@siskiyoudaily.com. Support local journalism by subscribing today.