A barn for St. Amant High School agricultural science classes and for members of the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter is finally under construction after years of patient fundraising and waiting.

The 3,000-square-foot structure is coming up slowly after plans for the school’s Freshman Academy were decided and ground broken on it, St. Amant High School agricultural sciences teacher and FFA chapter adviser Mandy Delaune said.

Delaune has worked since 2007 to build a multiuse facility and barn to help enhance her agricultural sciences, horticulture and veterinary lessons.

“It’s something we’re just really excited to see come to light,” Delaune said.

Delaune hopes the building will be used not only to house animals but to host community events like farmers markets, as well, she said. Property around the barn will be devoted to chicken coops, beehives and a garden.

The structure also would serve as a location for her high school students to teach younger children about agriculture, she said. Currently, Ascension Parish students take field trips to St. James Parish schools or to LSU’s AgMagic exhibit to learn about animals, plants and agriculture, she said.

“It was our thought that not only could younger students benefit but also our students serving as leaders and teachers who could tremendously benefit from that type of facility,” Delaune said.

“It will be a lot easier for us,” Ally Ryder, one of Delaune’s vet students, said of housing animals in the barn upon its completion in October.

The barn will provide “a lot more space,” student Tiffany Matherne said.

The class has previously housed alpacas in makeshift pens near the school’s welding area while they learned to shear them, Delaune said.

“The barn’s been a long time coming,” Delaune said.

To raise money to build the barn, Delaune’s class repeatedly entered a contest to win $25,000 in grant money for education programs from Pepsi beginning in 2011.

Delaune’s students encouraged friends and family members to vote online for the soft drink company to select their school as a grant recipient, but it took several attempts to finally break into the top 10 list of most popular projects, DeLaune said.

She and her students were at the state FFA convention in Monroe in 2011 when they learned they had won one of Pepsi’s $25,000 grants. “That was a really fun event for us,” Delaune said.

The barn’s progress continued to move slowly, however.

Construction didn’t start until this summer when school officials finalized their plans for the Freshman Academy and actually broke ground on it.

Delaune has lost property devoted for her agricultural classes as a result of the Freshman Academy construction and had to pull up irrigation lines, compost areas and even her students’ garden, a process she called “bittersweet.”

“We hope to get enough back to continue with what we were doing and enhance that a little bit,” Delaune said.