After nearly 50 years, ag shop receives well-deserved facelift

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School board member Brian Meyer spearheaded a volunteer effort over the summer to clean, re-organize and update the MFL MarMac ag shop. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

School board member Brian Meyer and board president Gina Roys stand with new ag teacher Sarah Wille and students Eric Walz, Mackenzy Ruff, Brock Lamborn, Colin Moses and Charles Friedlein in the ag classroom. The space now has a white board, new tables and chairs, a fresh coat of paint and a unique “agriculture” sign.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Brian Meyer remembers, nearly 50 years ago, when the ag shop at MFL MarMac High School was brand new. Since then, it’s been well-utilized, serving as a space for learning and fun for generations of local students. The only problem: that use was starting to show.

“It had 48 years of rugged use—welding, painting and torching,” Meyer described. “That all makes dirt and crud. It goes to the ceiling and sticks to the walls. It was just black.” 

With the retirement of long-time ag teacher Doug Martin at the end of last school year, and new teacher Sarah Wille coming in, Meyer, who’s also a member of the school board, thought there was no better time to give the area a fresh start.

Starting in July, he and a host of others—including custodians Fritz and Denise Walch, Barney Scherf, Jeanne Krueger and Lou Price and other staff members like Wille, Brandi Crozier (and her father) and Megan Schellhorn—began tackling the monumental task.

Together, they re-organized the shop, getting rid of some items to make room for others that will be more utilized. The ceiling and walls were power washed, using a pressure washer donated by Meyer.

“It’s normally used to clean hog houses,” he said, giving an idea of the kind of power that was needed to clean the surfaces. “We washed from the ceiling to the floor.”

Once the years of dirt were removed, the group went to work painting. Fisk Farm and Home, of Monona, donated the use of a scissor lift for the job, which made the process easier and quicker, said Meyer. The store also gave the school a discount on paint. In all, 22 gallons were used.

“Brian and Fritz were here past 10 some nights power washing and painting,” Wille marveled. “It was incredible.”

“The whole janitorial staff was awesome,” she added. “They already work hard throughout the summer, and then they took on this extra project.”

Meyer estimated he spent around 60 hours helping in the shop throughout July and August.

“We knew we had a deadline [of the start of the school year], so we went to work,” he said.

 The facelift didn’t end there. Wille said some plumbing and electrical work was completed, to create a full bathroom rather than just a urinal. 

Her office and the storage room next to it were re-organized. The office now bears Wille’s personal touches, including her FFA jacket and an Iowa State flag, representing the university from which she recently graduated. 

Changes can also be seen in the classroom, with the addition of a white board and new tables and chairs. The walls were re-painted, the dominant color being “FFA blue,” as Wille called it. 

“I wanted to remind myself and the students of the organization,” she said.

There are other FFA touches around the room, as well as a large sign hanging above the whiteboard that spells out the word “agriculture” in rustic, metal letters. It was created by fellow teacher Elise Martins and also includes old license plates, a wrench and the head of a pitchfork.

“I’m lucky,” Wille said, “because not a lot of new teachers get to come in and customize their area.”

Wille said she’s appreciative of the school board and administration, who helped her make a smooth transition.

Her predecessor, Martin, has also been a big help.

“He’s been awesome about texting me about things that are coming up and he gave me the information for national convention and how to log in to the national FFA site and get the roster set up. He’s probably out there right now painting lines on the football field,” she said, speaking last Thursday afternoon, the day before the first home football game. “He’s been nothing but helpful. I can see why people will miss him. He’s a really nice guy.”

Meyer said he’s happy with how the project turned out, and hopes the ag shop will continue to be a source of pride for the district and its students for years to come.

“Areas of the building all get their turn. This year, it was the ag shop’s turn,” he said. “Part of education is environment. I like agriculture and what happens here, what it does for the kids. I’m here because I like getting the kids what they need.”

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