For nearly 70 years the Willing Workers 4-H Club has met in the same building.
The old schoolhouse previously home for the Beaver Creek School when first built, has become a community center for the area.
With increasing safety issues of using a building that was built more than a 100 years ago the time has come address those concerns.
The Willing Workers — who now own the building and surrounding property after a change in ownership in 2017 — have begun the process of creating a new home for the club.
“We want to try to have that for the next 130 years,” Deric Wolf, a general leader of the club said of a new building. “We want a building there where people can still remember this is where we went to school or this is where we went to 4-H.”
The goal is to replace the clubhouse with building that closely mirrors the original. It will placed at the same property at the corner of County Road K and County Road D southwest of Menomonie.
The plans clubhouse are expected to be finalized this fall and winter so the project can begin next spring. Completion of the project is anticipated to be done by the summer of 2020. Once the plan is devised and material are purchased the club leaders and members will take on the building project themselves to save on costs.
Initially the club was looking to lift the building up and create a new foundation but upon further inspection it was recommended that a new building would be a better option.
With the schoolhouse being a fixture to the area and with many having gone to school there back in their childhood, Wolf and fellow general leader Troy Steinmeyer said it was important to have the blessing to replace the building from those in the surrounding community.
Keith Stainer a former club member and now club supporter said its important to put the kids first and that means providing a new home for the club when the old home is no longer suitable.
“It’s such a great asset to our community, to our younger group. Our future is there,” Stainer said of a new building.
The club has needed to move monthly meeting to the homes of club members because the school house has been deemed unsafe as a meeting location. The building still has the same original electrical wiring and Steinmeyer said only outlet works which can cause difficulties when the Willing Workers hold activities at the clubhouse.
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Steinmeyer said you can go home to home in the area and almost all of them attended 4-H as kids at the schoolhouse. His goal is once a new building is up it will provide a home for years to come.
“My mom and dad went to 4-H there. I went to 4-H there,” Steinmeyer said. “Now my kids are going to 4-H there and you sit there and you want it to be that for every generation even after we’re gone that we knew that they would have that available to them.”
The new clubhouse isn’t just for the Willing Workers, but it will also continue to provide as a meeting place for those in the community. Wolf said the new place could be used for a picnic, as a place to hold a graduation party or other community events.
According to Dunn County Extension. 4-H provides research-based youth programming, learning-by-doing, regular 4-H club meetings, and adult mentorship.
Steinmeyer said you see kids develop into leaders through their time in 4-H. From shy kids who struggle with yearly demonstration presentations to confident young people, members grow as they learn to speak in front of others and develop a sense of responsibility and commitment to their projects. Along with projects provide by 4-H in arts, mechanical and natural sciences, soil science and STEM the Willing Works are heavily involved in animal projects.
The club is even able to provide opportunities to those who don’t have the facilities to house an animal but would be interested in being involved in animal project. Wolf said he has housed a pig for a member and all he asks is that the member takes care of the animals daily care for the duration of the project.
The Willing Workers continue to grow as a club going from 53 members to 68 in two years. Steiner said the club has continued to see strong numbers because of the leadership throughout the years. What else separates the club from others, Steiner said, is that they have had a permanent home. While others meet in the homes of members the Willing Workers have had a place to call their own for many years.
To see that go away Steinmeyer said would have quite the impact on the neighborhood.
“For us out here, if this was missing it would be the same as in town if The Mabel Tainter disappeared,” Steinmeyer said. “If this school house was not out here on the corner of D and K by Weston and Irvington that would be the same as if The Mabel Tainter you woke up one morning and it was gone.”
The club is two-thirds of the way to reaching their funding goal before the project can get underway. Once completed the goal is for the building to provide a long-term home for not only the Willing Workers but also a place of gathering for all in the community.
“We realize it’s a great asset to our community, it really is and we don’t want to lose it,” Steiner said. “It’s here for everybody.”
For more information visit the Willing Workers Facebook page or contact club leaders Deric Wolf at 715-556-0021 or Troy Steinmeyer at 920-475-4669. To learn more about the history of the schoolhouse and club contact Keith Steiner at 715-235-5750.