Tractors and kids rolled out on to the green shavings of the Main Arena on Monday, March 12, for the elite State FFA Tractor Technician Contest. The competition featured 10 teams, each with three high school students from La Vernia, Tompkins, East Bernard, Dumas, James Madison, El Campo, Gonzales, Waco-Midway, Bellville and Woden High Schools.
Prior to arriving in Houston for the state competition, participants completed two preliminary tests: a 100-question test over parts and other general mechanics; and a 30-question components test with a more in depth look at specific functioning parts of the tractor.
Karl Collins, Agricultural Mechanics Committee member and overseer of the judges, has been involved with the competition since 1975.
Collins said what makes this competition special is what happens here at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Students had 30 minutes to find and fix five “bugs” or mechanical errors on their tractors. Collins said these bugs could be a number of things, but the students have the chance to study the work order a couple hours in advance to prepare for the competition.
“This section of the contest is really unique because we are the only state that does it,” Collins said.
After 30 short minutes, Bellville FFA took home first place for the second year in a row. Team members Jared Kemp, Canute Janish and William Diezi were excited to be a part of the winning team.
“I remember being in eighth grade watching the competition and thinking how it would be a really cool experience,” Diezi said.
Taking home seventh place, La Vernia FFA had a component to their team that made them stand out from the rest. They were the only team at the State FFA Tractor Technician Contest to have a female member.
Skyla Coldewey, a senior at La Vernia High School, said she has been involved with the tractor technician team at La Vernia since her freshman year.
“I didn’t want to do floral and our ag teacher said he had an open spot, so I joined,” Coldewey said.
Overall, the State FFA Tractor Technician Contest showed just how dedicated these high school students are to succeeding in agriculture. Those students are not only growing themselves, but helping plow the path for futures in agriculture.