Mix horses with big-hearted teenagers, and in a few hours, there is a barn that's one step closer to being finished.
The barn is at Spot-O-Faith Farm, Linda Christiano's nonprofit horse rescue operation in Pasco.
About 20 Tri-Tech Skills Center students, enrolled in the Kennewick school's pre-veterinary technician, construction trade or welding classes, met Wednesday afternoon at the farm.
Guys in Carhartts and tool belts bolted toward the barn, while gals in baseball caps and jeans headed for the corrals.
Two hours later, horses were groomed and the sheets of plywood covered interior walls on the west side of the barn.
"We ran out of wood or we would have done more," said Tony Milenski, who teaches construction trades classes at Tri-Tech.
The barn is an old-fashioned, board and batten style with a gambrel roof. It was designed by Sam Cumming, Christiano's father and a Walla Walla farmer, who began building it about 15 years ago. He is now 92 years old and hoping to see the barn finished.
"It's built almost entirely of recycled wood," she said. "He tore down an old cannery in Walla Walla. That's where some of those big beams came from. You can't buy them like that anymore."
Many of the wide planks that make up the sides of the barn came from the cannery too. They are nailed vertically, with gaps between each board.
"That's where the bats --these long, skinny boards -- go to make a solid wall," Christiano said. "I don't have enough wood yet to do the bats, that's partly why I needed the plywood put up inside, to stop the wind from whistling through the walls."
The plywood also helps reinforce the walls, which are lined with stalls, to prevent the horses from kicking through.
Students learned of the construction project through Suzanne Lefevre, who teaches pre-veterinary technician classes at Tri-Tech and is a friend of Christiano. Lefevre told her students about Spot-O-Faith, and several volunteered to work at the horse farm.
They soon discovered the barn needed a carpenter's touch, so they appealed to Milenski's construction trades class.
"We heard about it on Monday, and we all decided to join the project," Victor Mendoza said. "We're already helping to build two houses and now a barn. It's a lot different from a house. This is great experience."
Jake Morby, another construction trades student, said, "I like helping people and horses. I was happy to come out."
Milenski said, "It's projects like this that help my students understand how you feel good when you do something for somebody without expecting anything in return. Once they experience that feeling, they'll be a helper for the rest of their lives."
Christiano and her husband, Brett, have been running Spot-O-Faith Farm for about a year. So far, they have found homes for 10 horses and have two they're trying to place. They recently learned of four more horses that may need homes.
"But we only have so much room," she said. "Completing the barn will give us space for a few more, especially those needing extra care, out of the weather."
Spot-O-Faith welcomes donations of hay and grain. At this point, they need plywood and boards too.
"And volunteers are always welcome," Christiano said.
For more information on the horse rescue operation, go to www.spotofaithfarm.com. Or call 845-7242.