NAPPANEE — Tractors play a big role in the world of agriculture, a line of work that’s often male-dominated.
There are two young ladies in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) whose work in restoring an antique tractor may change that perception.
It’s been a busy time for Katelynn Hancock and Taylor Martin, both members of the Future Farmers of America group at NorthWood High School.
As a team, they’ve made the finals in a tractor restoration competition. Only one of 12 high school teams was picked from across the country.
“We usually have teams of about seven to eight individuals that are competing, and we have had a girl every once in a while on the teams,” said Amy Beer. “This is the first year that NorthWood has an all-girl team.”
They received the donation of an old 1950 John Deere tractor for the competition.
Their challenge was to rebuild and restore it from the ground up.
It was in bad shape .
Until now, they only had experience repairing small engines.
“The first thing I thought when it saw it was ‘OK, I don’t know what to do,” said Hancock. “It was really rusty, everything needed to be fixed. I knew we had to tear this thing down all the way to its bare bone. We had a deadline that it needed to be done by.”
“We had to take the whole tractor apart,” said Martin, “Every piece had to come apart. It was daunting, but thankfully we had our coaches and they walked us through the whole process. We did everything ourselves, but they instructed us through it.”
Early on, they say they really didn’t have much interest in mechanics or working on engines, but its’s something they gradually grew into.
They qualified to be in the national competition.
“It’s amazing how far we have come,” said Martin. “It was completely unexpected and we’re really grateful to everyone who supported us.”
“I was kind of nervous getting into it at first, but then I realized, that you have to take your best foot forward and do it,” said Hancock.
First prize for the best restored tractor is $10,000.
The two-day event is later this month in Indianapolis.