Groundbreaking got underway last Thursday on the new Ag Barn at Princeton High School.
The facility will be the first of its kind, and will house animals raised by students that participate in the FFA organization, officials said.
Students, community members, and members of the school board, Career Technical Education Advisory Board, and Princeton Ag Boosters attended the brief ceremony on Argo Street, including three generations of the Chrestensen family.
Ag Booster member Dan Chrestensen, his daughter Debbie Wills, a 1996 graduate of Princeton High School, booster member and district trustee, Joey Wills, a member of Princeton FFA, and several other took turns turning over a shovel of dirt to officially launch the project.
To many in Princeton, the long-planned addition to the school campus is a dream come true.
“We’ve been waiting for this day since (Debbie) was a freshman in high school,” Chrestensen said. “I’ve been cooking at the rib feed for over 30 years hoping to see this actually happen.”
Princeton Joint Unified School District Superintendent Korey Williams said the $93,000 project is funded primarily from a Career Technical Education grant, plus the Ag Boosters raised and donated about $10,000 for additional work.
“The school board authorized the funding and the use of the land,” Williams said. “The Ag Boosters are responsible for paying for a chunk of it. We couldn’t do this without support from the community.”
For decades, Princeton FFA students have had to raise their animals for the Colusa County Fair at home or rely on the generosity of space from others. The lack of facilities restricted many students from the same opportunities as those in other districts, officials said.
“We built some pens this school year, but we need a barn so more students are able to participate,” said Trustee Debbie Wills, who raised swine when she was in school.
Second year Ag Teacher Amador Martinez said he was ecstatic about the new facility, which will be under construction through the summer.
The new barn will be closed on three sides, with one side open to outdoor runs for sheep, goats, and cattle.
“The hogs will stay in the inside, which will be a little more temperature controlled with fans and heat lamps,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the new Ag Barn, upon completion, should be able to accommodate about 20 hogs, 10 lambs or goats, and two steer at the time.
Princeton High School junior Joey Wills, who raises lambs, opened the April 18 ceremony and turned over the first shovel of dirt.
He said it would be an honor to see the barn open his senior year.
“I want to thank the Ag Boosters, the CTE, and the school board for making this possible, and others, like Mr. Martinez, who helped us get it after 30 years or more,” Wills said.
The school district plans to host a dedication ceremony and dinner in the fall, with the first large animals expected to arrive in November. ■