PRHS agricultural welding student donates Santa Maria-style barbecue to Pioneer Museum 

PASO ROBLES — Last week (Feb. 19-24) marked National FFA Week and to show support, one of Paso Robles High School (PRHS) FFA’s agricultural welding students capped it off by delivering a donation item created for his community. 

Sophomore student Leo St. Martin was commissioned to create a large Santa Maria-style barbecue for the Pioneer Museum on behalf of the Coppoletti family. The project was funded by McKee Ranches, operated by Angela and Rob McKee. The idea came about to create a project that would allow St. Martin to pursue welding further, and that would be a testament to Jan Copoletti’s volunteer work and support of the Pioneer Museum over the years. In years to come, the Pioneer Museum will use the barbecue for hosting events and fundraisers. 

Pioneer Museum President Melody Mullis stated, “This project is a work of art, and I cannot wait to showcase it as soon as possible. We’ve already started planning fundraisers around it.”

This project took approximately eight months to complete outside of the normal class time and is a product of over 200 hours of labor and dedication by St. Martin. 

“Taking on this project was a large task, but it pushed me to learn more about project design, engineering, and fabrication skills than I knew prior to starting,” St. Martin stated. 

Angela McKee said, “I am so proud of Leo for the amazing craftsmanship, as well as Matt Vierra for his guidance on this project of love.” 

The barbecue was something that St. Martin was more than happy to make and spend his time on because he knew that it would benefit the community and help raise money for the Pioneer Museum. He hopes to continue pursuing a career in the welding industry and hopes to start his own company here in Paso Robles. For now, he enjoys creating his welding projects for community members and is looking for the opportunity to showcase his talent.

Feature Image: (From left) Angela and Rob McKee, Leo St. Martin, Melody Mullis, Jan and Tom Cappoletti, and Matt Vierra stand with the barbecue St. Martin created for the Pioneer Museum. Photo Courtesy of PRHS FFA