It's 'wagon, ho!' in Jacks Valley

Kathleen Barton asked for a covered wagon and she got a covered wagon.

During construction of a Nevada History Walk at Jacks Valley Elementary School's Habitat Center in 2005, the third- and fourth-grade teacher asked the community for help on the project.

"We need donations of visual aids," Barton said. "I want an authentic pioneer wagon."

Coming to the rescue was not-for-profit organization Thrivent Financial for Lutherans that commissioned a covered wagon to be built for the history trail.

Thrivent volunteers, Jacks Valley elementary students and other members of the community show the progress of the school's project and celebrate Join Hands Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Linda Reid, community coordinator for the Douglas-Alpine Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, said she saw the article about Jacks Valley's history project and wanted to help.

"Every year Thrivent gives $1,000 to do something good in the community that involves youth and adults," said Reid. "In the project Kathleen Barton has, she needed a covered wagon."

Saturday is Join Hands Day, the 7th annual national day of service sponsored by America's fraternal benefit societies to promote working together for the betterment of a community.

"The focus of Join Hands is youth and adults working together," said Reid.

About 30 Thrivent volunteers will provide a trail lunch of stew to volunteers working Saturday.

The one-acre area adjacent to the school includes a 200-yard-long trail with 16 kiosks, each telling a different time period of Nevada history. The trail is littered with artifacts that pioneers may have left on their journeys in the West.

One of those artifacts is the Thrivent-commissioned covered wagon that Carson Valley resident Ray Garner modeled after a tall wagon.

"When it's complete, bows and a cover will be on it," Garner said. "The hickory bows come from Tennessee. You can't just go to Home Depot to get the parts," he added.

When completed, the wagon will have picks, axes and a trunk.

"It's for a good cause."

Jacks Valley Elementary School's Nevada History Walk and Archaeology Dig in the Habitat Center began in 2004 when Barton received approval to create the outdoor classrooms.

The Douglas County School District paid to put in the fencing once Barton provided the materials. All funding and labor has come from volunteers.

"I solicited the school district to donate the land if I could come up with the fencing material," said Barton.

The History Walk will be completed in stages.

"By September we hope to have writing in kiosks so students will be able to walk through and learn," said Barton.

It's Home Depot's yearly volunteer project to put up an outdoor classroom on the site.

"Home Depot is key sponsor," said Barton. "G.E. also built kiosks. Anyone interested in being a supporter, talk to me. We need electrical and water volunteers."

Barton's students will perform skits on Saturday telling what happened along the trail. Young Chautauquans are expected, with an appearance of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Rebecca Corbett, 9, will be a pioneer girl reading a letter to her grandmother.

"I won't be wearing a bonnet but I'll have a skirt," said Rebecca. "My grandmother made my costume."

Parmelee Ebright, 9, helped with the history trail and the archaeology project.

"I'm not a real expert on bones but I know a lot about archaeology and geology," he said. "It's good Mrs. Barton gave us an opportunity to do this because she cares about our learning and education."

Barton said that of the 16 kiosks or booths on the history trail, the only one sponsored has been by Thrivent.

"Our new thing this year is to get sponsors from some organization or company to finance booths to complete the them," she said.

"Our goal is a partnership in education - to help the community have a link to children's education."

For more information about the Nevada History Walk, call Jacks Valley Elementary School at 267-3267.


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