It was a treasure hunt - meets fellowship dinner - meets hard day’s work. More than 150 people of all ages and walks of life converged on a corn field northeast of Broken Bow Saturday with one common goal - helping our school.
It was a first-time experience for me, and I was not the only one.
“I’m a city girl - I have never done anything like this before!” exclaimed Nancy Harrold, who spent nearly four hours bending over picking up ears of corn.
Those of us in the 50 and over age group were definitely feeling the burn by the end of the day, but it was the kind of soreness that makes you feel good.
The project was called Field of Dreams, and was a fundraiser for the Little Feet Big Dreams - a capital fundraising campaign of the Broken Bow Public Schools Foundation. Farmer Frank Govier offered to donate all of the corn left in his field to the school project - all that was needed were hands to pick it up. And hands they got! More than 150 sets of them to be exact, ranging from kids as young as two to adults as young as 84.
Dressed in layers of warm clothing (most of which was not needed within an hour or two) we met at the school bus barn at 9 a.m., where we loaded on to two school buses and were transported to the field located 1/4 mile east of Highway 183 toward Comstock. As we got off the bus we were each handed a 5-gallon bucket and we headed to the field.
It didn’t take long for even a novice like me to catch on, or to find plenty of corn to pick up. I would kind of get in a zone, walking along looking for corn - and getting all excited when I would stumble upon an area of whole ears waiting to be gathered. Occasionally I would stop just to look around at the large gathering of people, just to see who I knew and maybe catch a little conversation.
The field was quite large, and everywhere I looked I could see people working. There were lots of kids, and many families working sided by side - giving up their Saturday for this worthy cause. But for all the people I could see, there were dozens more I couldn’t.
After lunch I hopped aboard a Gator and was chauffeured around the field by Dale Nozicka so I could snap a few pictures. That gave me the opportunity to see all the groups of volunteers on the other side of the field that I hadn’t been able to see through the hills. And I have to say, what I saw warmed my heart.
People who had just met were chatting like old friends as they worked. Kids were laughing, some stopping long enough to pose for pictures perched on top of a hay bale. It was like one giant family, pitching in to help out one of their own.
When lunch time came, we were either walked or caught a ride on one of the Gators back to the top of the hill for a well-deserved break. There Anson and Carmen Bumgarner of Tumbleweed Cafe had set out a spread for us of hot grilled hamburgers, Cheetos, cookies, candy bars and bottles of water. The Bumgarners, with help from their friends Tami and Sam Schendt, and Deb Bryner, donated their time and the food for the event.
As we sat around on buckets, blankets and tailgates of pickups, we visited about a number of things; in particular, how good the food was and how sore our backs were! But when lunch was over, nearly everyone got back up (some a little more slowly than others), grabbed a bucket and went back to work.
Shortly before 2 p.m. we got back on the buses to head back to town. The bus was full of laughter and chatter. It’s funny how working with someone on a common goal can form new bonds!
It is exciting to know that when the new school at North Park is finished, the new floor is in the gym and new playground equipment greets the students, that all of us who were there Saturday will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. And as one of the organizers of the event, Janice Nozicka, pointed out - that was the whole purpose.
“Not everyone can write a big check to help with this project, but everyone can give a little of their time,” she said.
A project of this size cannot happen without the help of a lot of volunteers. Aside from the many who helped pick up corn Saturday, many others helped make the fundraiser possible. Several local farmers brought their personal equipment, including Gators, to the field to help.
The use of equipment was also donated by both Plains Equipment Group and Red Line Equipment. Jacobson Rental and Store More provided dump trailers, while Mead Lumber donated the 5-gallon buckets. Adams Land & Cattle Co. offered to market the finished product, while Howard Transportation agreed to grind and transport the corn.
I have to admit, when Sunday morning came I had a little harder time getting out of bed than usual. But next year when my little grandson is part of the first class to begin school in the new building it will have been so worth it. And if there is another “Field of Dreams” day in the future - you can count this grandma in!
Little Feet Big Dreams:
Providing places to play and perform
In 2011, voters approved a $5.8 million project to provide better facilities for Broken Bow elementary students. Those funds provided more classroom space, a multi-purpose room and an improved learning environment.
Little Feet Big Dreams capital fundraising campaign has two objectives:
• Raise money for needs at North Park Elementary that could not be met within the scope of the voter-approved project
• Renovate the Broken Bow Middle School Auditorium to provide a facility dedicated to the performing arts
The campaign will provide funding for:
• playground equipment at North Park
• quality flooring, gym equipment and bleacher seating in the North Park multi-purpose room
• renovations to the middle school auditorium
The North Park Elementary project broke ground May 10, 2012. The project includes a new 31,697-foot addition which provides eight classrooms, a media center, computer lab, restrooms, administrative offices and a multi-purpose room.
The project also includes upgrades to the existing building of automatic sprinklers, HVAC, plumbing, lighting and electrical system. The new school will go from housing kindergarten through 2nd grade students, to kindergarten through 4th grade.
Little Feet Big Dreams has partnered with the Broken Bow PTA, Broken Bow Athletic Booster Club and Broken Bow Music Boosters, dividing their plan into four stages - or projects. The fundraising timeline for those projects is:
* Project 1, $65,000 for flooring and gym equipment for multi-purpose room. Goal for project is March 2013.
* Project 2, $100,000 for playground equipment. Goal for project is May 2013.
* Project 3, $35,000 for bleachers for multi-purpose room. Goal for project is September 2013.
* Project 4, $1,000,000 for renovation of Middle School gym as Performing Arts Center. Goal for project is May 2015.
The construction project includes a new multi-purpose room at North Park, which will be used for large group activities, physical education, assemblies and indoor recess. Previously, those activities occurred in the same space as music education and lunch service.
With the planned improvements, the multi-purpose room can also meet a need for additional recreational space. The building would be appropriate for non-varsity athletics, some of which now take place on the stage at the Middle School.
Currently, school facilities are used by hundreds of community members for women’s and co-ed volleyball, Optimist volleyball and basketball, men’s basketball, dance lessons, art and craft shows, gymnastics competition, children’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling leagues and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Currently there is no playground equipment at North Park, as the school’s aging equipment was removed in 2012 to make room for construction of the new classrooms. LFBD aims to raise enough funds for two separate play ares; two areas are most appropriate to keep age groups separated at recess.
Playground equipment at North Park also provides a much-needed recreational space for families in that area of the community. There is currently no other safe, up-to-date playground equipment in the north part of Broken Bow. Park facilities have been eliminated and not replaced in the community due to city budget constraints.
Planned Fine Arts Facility Improvements
A generous memorial gift to the community from Steve Marchek was placed in a fund to provide a Performing Arts Center in Broken Bow. Today, with the addition of other gifts, there is more than $150,000 to apply toward that goal.
Currently, the ample auditorium space at Broken Bow Middle School is used primarily for 7th and 8th grade sports. With the completion of the gym at North Park, those activities can be moved out of the auditorium, and once again the auditorium can be dedicated to the performing arts..
A committee dedicated to this long-term improvement project has received an initial cost estimate of $1 million. Those funds would provide new theater seating, updated technology, theater-quality sound and lighting, a rebuilt stage area and new theater equipment.
With these improvements, says the LFBD committee, students of all ages will benefit from creative opportunities and the community will once again have space for quality performances.
*If you would like to donate to the Little Feet Big Dreams project, you may send those donations to: Broken Bow Public Schools Foundation, Little Feet Big Dreams Campaign, 323 North 7th Ave., Broken Bow NE 68822.