The Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center is becoming the epicenter for knowledge sharing. Patrick McLendon, the center’s director, hopes that by the fall and winter they will offer 20 different classes. “We see the Ag Center as a place where we can have many educational events and become a center for knowledge sharing,” says McLendon.
Several weeks ago Don Rausch, a professional boat builder, approached McLendon and asked him for his help in providing classes in wooden boat building. McLendon did a quick inventory of the available spaces in the old building and began to think out of the box.
The two agreed on a mutually beneficial plan which would allow Rausch to set up shop and begin his classes at no charge to Rausch. In return Rausch would be expected to clear out the old boiler room and turn it into a useable space. Rausch, who own the signature appearance of an experienced sailor, kept up his side of the deal and filled his class to capacity.
Three kids and two grandfathers with ages that span seventy years built six boats entirely from scratch. Rausch, who says that he learned the art of boat building from the industry’s best, taught his student everything from plywood characteristics to the proper use of epoxy. “All of our boats are made of Lloyds of London inspected marine plywood, very stout and very expensive,” says Rausch.
Once the boats are completed they can be used for the next few generations because they are constructed by following the exact designs of Devlin Boat Designers, a recognized leader in the industry. Rausch instructs his students to also follow the Devlin process known as stitch-and-glue. “There are no fasteners in these boats. Fasters are weakest point of other boats. They’re old fashion and don’t work well,” says Rausch.
During all stages of the production the boats come alive with the signature characteristic of both the designer and Rausch himself and when completed is a sight to behold. Noah Horshim, 12, says that he plans to take his boat fishing and may sell it. “I think I can sell it for around $2,500,” says Horshim.
Larry Dyer, 17, sands the entire surface of the boat with a passion. “I just like getting out and working with my hands,” Dyer says. Larry Denton, the grandfather of the two boys, is also enrolled in the class. “You know kids, they get out of school and they can’t get a job because they don’t even know how to work,” says Denton, as he watches over his grandkids with pride.
Rausch said that he is not doing this for money. In fact to date he has spent his own money to help finance the class. “This is for kids! I don’t get paid for this,” exclaims Rausch.
McLendon believes that Rausch’s class fits in well with the knowledge sharing theme of the Ag Center. Other classes planned include a poultry classes, a turkey conference, a chicken processing class and a Cob Oven building class.