Threshold Learning Center - Zearing, Iowa
Barn Renovation

Threshold Learning Center (TLC) is a non-profit, outdoor education/nature center that provides science and nature programs to nearly 3,000 students of all ages annually. Currently, we serve schools and communities located in Story, Marshall, Hardin, Hamilton, and Polk counties. The addition of a dormitory will enable us to, at a minimum, double the number of people we serve each year in these communities, as well as reach schools and families from all over the state of Iowa.  Our quality programs, great food, and rural Midwest hospitality will keep them coming!


TLC is currently renovating a barn to be used as a dormitory for students attending our overnight programs.  A renovated barn makes for an unforgettable dormitory, an attraction that will certainly bring students and curious visitors alike to our site.  It will also be the location of our community theater, nature center, and museum of Iowa History.  Throughout the barn there will be pictures and displays depicting life in Iowa around the year 1881, when Zearing was first established.  

When fully completed, the main level will have eight barn "stalls," each with two bunk beds and night stand, showcasing an important person from the surrounding community in the late 1800's.  Also located on the main level will be separate girls and boys bathrooms, kitchenette, and lounge area with fireplace. The students will have a blast telling everyone they slept in a barn with rooms ritzier than most hotels!  The upper level will house the dining area/dance floor with a complete kitchen and dedicated serving area on one end.  Hands-on displays depicting Iowa History, farm life, and local wildlife will be exhibited on the walls of the dining hall.  On the other end of the upper level will be a stage, used by our overnight programs to put on dramas about life at the turn of the century.  On weekends, the barn will be available for rent for overnight stays, weddings, reunions, and other special events.  This will attract people from all over to enjoy our quaint community, fostering the growth of both new and already established local businesses.

Though volunteer work has helped reduce the total     cost of the Barn Renovation Project, active fund raising efforts through grants and    contributions are necessary for a new non-profit organization.  We need your help!  A  fully renovated barn  will not only allow Threshold Learning Center the       opportunity to provide    exciting overnight educational programs, it will also assist us in establishing a more self-sustaining income through public rental fees.  In turn, a more stable income, one less reliant upon grants and donations, will enable TLC to offer a variety of outdoor programs at a reduced rate to schools and other non-profit organizations that might not otherwise be able to afford them.  TLC anticipates this critical goal can be quickly realized after the barn is complete and fully operational.                                  

Barn Update 2011


Work on the barn this year thus far has been on the kitchen area upstairs.  Since we brought in only $350 specifically for the barn project in 2010, however, we are basically where we were last year at this time with great hopes that we can finish it by the time our school groups come in May.  We do have a few Family Reunions the end of April that would also like to use the kitchen.  We have only $8,000 left of our $175,000 project and it can be frustrating to be this close and not be able to reach our goal.  When we look at how far we’ve come and all that we have accomplished with just our hard work and the generosity of our supporters, we know that our goal may not be reached quickly, but we WILL get there.

The barn opened for business last Spring and since then has enjoyed housing school kids, campers, families, dance classes, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, hunters, community meals, overnight birthday parties, open houses, dances, performances, and has been a part of many good times.  We hope this continues and grows!  The completion of the kitchen will add a new aspect to people’s stay.

We would love for you to visit the barn at any time and see the donation boards (there is still plenty of room to get your loved one on the wall), our sponsored bedrooms (we still have two available), and the progress on the kitchen.  You can see us at our upcoming SPA day, the after-school kids’ Prairie Café every Wednesday in late April and early May, or simply call and have us run out and show it to you.

We have accomplished so much and appreciate all the help we have received thus far through donations, volunteer work, and encouraging words.  If you would like to help with our Barn Renovation Project, please visit our Support TLC page.