The White Salmon Valley Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter at Columbia High School (CHS) set out to build a livestock pavilion in memory of Austin Jennings Bucklin. And, build it the chapter has.
Bucklin was a leader in the CHS community, as well as the greater White Salmon community.
“Austin had the ability to include everyone, support his friends and believe in people. He, along with his fellow FFA officers, was passionate, and encouraged the idea of building a livestock pavilion where all White Salmon FFA members would have the opportunity to raise and show market livestock animals,” said FFA Advisor Emily Gehrig.
CHS graduate and FFA member Kirstin Caldwell was the first to propose the idea of a livestock barn on campus in 2013. In recent years, the FFA officers fueled the idea and kept the project momentum moving forward.
As a team, the students decided the livestock pavilion would be a great way to memorialize Bucklin, who died unexpectedly in July 2017.
“As I mentioned before, Austin had the ability to include every individual he encountered. Therefore, building a livestock pavilion so all FFA members can raise animals is the perfect way to keep Austin’s memory alive,” said Gehrig.
There are excellent educational benefits to the pavilion as well.
“When students can raise and show livestock animals, they learn traits and qualities that follow them into the rest of their lives. Raising an animal during the youth years gives opportunities for students to learn about empathy, integrity and the importance of working hard for positive outcomes. Students learn to transform frustration into skill, self-doubt into confidence, and uncertainty into leadership by working with animals and their chapter members,” said Gehrig.
The process to build the Austin Bucklin Memorial Livestock Pavilion has been an incredible one. The process really began at the Klickitat County Fair and Market stock sale in Sept. 2017. Bucklin’s younger brother, Chandlor Bucklin, showed an FFA chapter hog that was raised by FFA team member Ty Walker.
The community exhibited outstanding support of the pavilion by purchasing the hog for approximately $11,200. Now, that they had some money to back up the idea of the pavilion, the brainstorming began.
While this was a student-led idea, they could not have done it alone or without the help and the donation of time and skill of many individuals and businesses in the community
Bryan Charters, a local parent, has volunteered every step along the way. He helped get community members interested and excited in the project, as well as helping with every portion of the building process.
Justin Connely, of Glacier Electric, not only provided all the electrical for the pavilion but he also met with Gehrig and Charters to draw out the basic design.
Bell Design Company came in and engineered building and site plans. Once the plans were approved and permitted, Gross Enterprises completed the excavation.
Shaun Billette of Mountain Brook Construction set the forms for the foundation of the pavilion, which was poured by Rapid Readymix Company and pumped by Jake Raether at Mike Schultz Pumping. Brasuell Plumbing completed all the plumbing for the pavilion.
Brent Gimlin, an assistant mechanic for the school district, volunteered his time and equipment to backfill and Aaron Hogberg Construction helped frame, sheet, and set trusses.
“Now we are ready for another inspection before we roof and progress into the final stages of building,” said Gehrig.
Naturally, the FFA students have also been deeply involved in the process.
White Salmon FFA members Chandlor Bucklin, Ty Walker, Trevor Cooper, and George Bucklin have worked extremely hard on building the pavilion.
“These four young men have displayed outstanding leadership qualities as well as skills involved in construction. Their hard work and commitment to the project is what will see this project to the end,” said Gehrig.
Another student at CHS volunteered to design and build a sign for the exterior of the livestock pavilion. Jordan Trout put hours into the intricate detail involved in the National FFA emblem.
“He did an outstanding job and the sign will look amazing on the completed Austin Bucklin Memorial Livestock Pavilion,” said Gehrig.
The community has shown outstanding support through donations of time, labor, money and supplies. The FFA would like to extend a special thank you to IOOF Lodge #188, OJ Hecomovich, and Mt. Adams Elks Lodge #1868 for making monetary donations towards the project. As well as to all individuals and businesses involved.
“We are extremely grateful for the community support and donations to make the Austin Bucklin Memorial Pavilion project a reality for current and future FFA members,” said Gehrig
Building officially began on July 19, 2018 and the FFA hopes to complete the project on Feb. 1, 2019.