King City Rural 4-H member Tommy Storelli installs a new book barn near the playground at Forden Park in King City. The project helped him earn his Emerald Star rank. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — Tommy Storelli of King City Rural 4-H installed a book barn at Forden Park as an Emerald Star project earlier this month.

The book barn was meant to share reading with others in the community and get people to know a little more about the 4-H, as the books inside have information stickers.

Storelli, who recently turned 13, had to meet with adults such as city officials, all without help from his parents or group leaders, to seek approval for the project while he was 12 years old.

Once he obtained permission to install the book barn, he spent last Friday and Saturday, March 6-7, constructing it with the help of his parents.

In addition, he organized donations from Arroyo Seco Rock and Casey Printing for the barn itself, as well as getting a donation of five boxes full of books for the barn from his friends.

“It’s really hard to put up,” Storelli said, describing the process as involving digging, pouring in concrete, putting gravel on top, putting the disturbed dirt back and assembling the book barn itself on a post. He said he did the main digging with a posthole digger.

Emerald Star is a rank within 4-H that encourages youth leadership. In Storelli’s case, he had to independently work with adults to take lead on his project, which began as a want to share reading and information about the club.

“Not everybody knows what 4-H is and this would help them learn with information stickers in the front of the books,” Storelli said.

Group leaders said Storelli was the only club applicant for the rank this past year, with prior applicants having been two or more years ago, making it not only quite an undertaking for youth, but an uncommon test to aim for in the first place.

Storelli has been in 4-H for five years, with two of those being a junior leader.

In addition to having completed the project and being in charge of keeping it stocked with more donated books, Storelli has follow-up presentations to do, which will take data collection.

“Multiple other 4-H clubs are asking me about it and wanting me to present,” he said. “I’ll see how many books are taken at the end of each week and see how much outreach that is.”

With those stats, he will then have more information to tell the 15 other clubs about how worthwhile book barns can be for their communities.

The book barn itself was donated by Storelli’s family, and his presentations about it will have him speaking to clubs as far away as Carmel Valley and Aromas.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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