"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable," Christopher Reeve, American actor, film director and activist, 1952-2004. Christopher Reeve, better known for his movie portrayal of Superman, said it well. Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor and businessman, stated, "Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
At Richland Springs High School, we have our own hero who has proven both of those quotes are valid. Gerald McKee, Agriculture Science teacher, had a dream, and with much perspiration, he has seen his dream come true. About ten years ago, Mr. McKee knew two young girls who wanted to show goats in the San Saba County Livestock Show. He helped the children procure the goats, and the parents created a small pen for the goats. The pen was so small that the goats could jump out. One day the young girls came home, and the goats had jumped out of the pen and run away; thus, the little girls did not have any animals to show in the livestock show and were sorely disappointed.
At that moment, Mr. McKee remembers thinking how he wished that Richland Springs had some kind of feeding facility that students could use to raise their own show animals. The dream went through many stages inside Mr. McKee’s head. As he traveled across the state to other stock shows and schools, he always took a look at any feeding facility that was available for students to use. He began to form an idea of his ideal feeding/show barn. He sketched it out.
The small school in the heart of Texas in one of the poorest counties of the state could not build a feeding facility for the Agriculture program. The cost was too great. Mr. McKee would go back "to the drawing board." Finally, in 2010, Mr. McKee decided that he would just start the process on faith and see how far he could get in accomplishing his dream.
First, he had to have a site, and there was an old house on school property which needed razing. Permission was granted. Then, fill dirt was needed. People in the community heard of "the plan", and soon there was fill dirt and the ground was level. With the help of volunteers from the community and financial donations from the community, a slab was soon poured.
In May of 2010, Mr. McKee got serious. He received donations of pipe, sheet metal and various materials, and he knew how to weld, so he began to build in earnest. Nearly every day during the summer of 2010, Gerald McKee came to the school and built on his dream. He dug post holes, welded, poured concrete, installed sheet iron, and perspired. According to him, people would see him working, stop by, and ask how they could help. Soon, he had people donating more materials and workers showing up to help with the work, but it was Mr. McKee who put in long hours consistently, day in and day out. When school started again, the building wasn’t finished, so the agriculture students helped Mr. McKee build the feeding facility. By the 2010 Christmas break, the building was primarily finished, and a local stock show was held in the new show arena with ribbons and prizes given out to the students.
The metal, steel, and concrete building is 100 feet by 52 feet, and it has pens to house forty-eight animals. Currently, Richland Springs students have forty animals on feed in the facility. The building has electrical outlets for shearing, and overhead lights make the facility bright as day as the night comes on. There are twenty-four pens and fifty hand-made gates within the facility. Automatic watering is installed in each pen. Opposite the pens for the animals, enclosed areas with locks on each door are provided for the students to store their feed and tack. Then, someone donated a treadmill, and Mr. McKee thought, "What can I do with this?" The building now houses a modified treadmill on which goats and lambs are exercised. Outside the building, Mr. McKee has built an exercise track and outdoor pen for the animals. One can often see students and dogs inside the track as they chase the animals around and around.
This current school year, Mr. McKee has plans for a Showmanship Clinic which will instruct newcomers and young people about how to properly show their animals when they get to the show. In December, the facility will be the site of the second annual Richland Springs Livestock Show. Mr. McKee could not stop bragging on the community and how they came together to help build something for the young people. The community, the school, and a teacher came together to work for the well-being of our future, our young people. He stated, "It will be here long after I’m gone, and hopefully, it will still be used to help young people."
Gerald McKee dreamed a dream. It seemed impossible. Then, it seemed improbable, and when he summoned his will, it became inevitable. Richland Springs has many silent, unassuming heroes, and Gerald McKee, RSHS Ag. Teacher, is one of them.