Campground being developed at Iowa's Hawkeye Point
SIBLEY, Iowa -- While most kids spent their final days of the school year sitting behind a desk and watching the beautiful blue skies outside, students in Mike Earll's FFA program at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School were putting their skills to use on a community project that will soon result in campground facilities at Iowa's high point.
Hawkeye Point, located midway between Bigelow and Sibley, Iowa, has undergone a transformation in the last couple of years as groups like the FFA chapter work to promote agriculture and tourism in Osceola County.
Developing a campground, along with restoration of a 90- to 100-year-old corn crib on the former farm site, are among the latest projects.
A five-acre tree lot located directly north of Hawkeye Point was purchased from the Iowa Department of Transportation with a $3,500 community grant and another $4,000-plus donated from a highpointers club in Colorado, said Earll.
FFA members began tree and fence removal and shrub trimming during their May term.
"Once that's all done, then we hope to start getting in water and electrical line and start setting up the campground," Earll said. They hope to have enough work completed yet this summer to allow for very basic camping.
"Our hope is to get the area cleared, get the roads through there and get the campsites set up," he added. "We won't have any restroom facilities out there yet."
The entire project wouldn't be possible without community volunteers, donations of time and equipment and financial contributions, said Earll. Local excavator Pete Clausen volunteered some of his bulldozers, backhoes and earth-moving equipment to help develop the campground.
In addition, Osceola Rural Water has offered to get water to the campground and another local contractor has donated his time and equipment to dig in the water and electrical lines for the site. Osceola County has offered to donate the gravel for the roads and trailer parking in the campground, and the city of Sibley has donated a culvert for the driveway.
"There's been a lot of different folks stepping up and lending a hand to try to make this indeed a community activity," said Earll.
The 18 Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA members each spent about three hours per day during their May term on the Hawkeye Point project, culminating in a combined 1,400-plus hours of community service work during the month.
"That's kind of the unique part about our school with the May term program -- it does allow us to do a few more community service activities than a lot of chapters would be able to," said Earll.
In addition to the work at the campground site, FFA members have partnered with the Westerners 4-H Club in Osceola County to repair and repaint an old corn crib on the farm site of Hawkeye Point. The corn crib is one of the last remaining buildings from the original farm site, said Earll.
"We wanted to keep something as kind of an icon of what agriculture was like," he explained. "A lot of the folks that come by from other states, they have no idea what a corn crib is."
Plans are to create a walk-through museum in the corn crib as funds become available. The display would include a collection of large photographs depicting old-time farming techniques such as planting, threshing and corn-picking.
"It will be just a historical documentation of what it was like to be a farmer here in northwest Iowa," said Earll.
As work progresses on the various projects at Hawkeye Point, the task of raising money also continues. Earll said a Wall of Recognition has been created at Hawkeye Point to recognize individuals who have contributed $50 or more toward the projects at the site. He said several Highpointers Club members from other states have already offered to donate money for the improvements.
Brochures containing more information about the project and how to donate will be sent to residents of Osceola County within the next week. Anyone else interested in contributing to the project may send donations to the Hawkeye Point project in care of Osceola County Economic Development Office, 300 Seventh St., Sibley, Iowa, 51249.
An Old Fashioned Fourth of July picnic and patriotic concert is planned at Hawkeye Point on July 3 to show off the progress at the site and also to raise funds for continued projects. The picnic will be from 5 to 6 p.m., with a patriotic duo from Cherokee, Iowa, to perform at 6:30 p.m. Free-will donations will be accepted during the event.