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T. J.

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#1
Often, on this forum as well as other places, I hear the lament that kids these days are only interested in video games and school vocational programs have gone the way of the dinosaurs. So I thought I would share a story of what's happening at the little school in my hometown.

At several of the major livestock shows in Texas (Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, etc), in addition to the animals, they also have competitions for 'Agriculture Mechanics'. Young FFA members build projects, either individually or as a group, and bring them to the shows to compete for recognition and prizes. They are judged on the quality of their projects and the skill required to build them, as well as their communication skills when they present their projects to the judges. The FFA chapter at our local school has had a very successful ag mechanics program through the vocational agriculture classes taught here. Our community is small (town population ~900; county population ~2,500), and we are situated in the heart of the farming and ranching country of the Texas panhandle.

I would like to share some photos that I took today during an open house they had for the community to show off this years projects. It will take me several posts to get them all in, so stay tuned... Keep in mind that all of the equipment you are about to see was built entirely by high school ( and a few junior high) kids.
 

T. J.

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#2
Portable hydraulic cattle working chute built by the senior class:
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T. J.

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#3
Manure spreader built by two brothers in their home farm shop:
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They told me it would hold about 20-25 tons of manure
 

RJSakowski

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#4
TJ, those are some amazing young men! Thanks for sharing.
 

T. J.

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#5
Device for pulling silage trucks out of the mud with a tractor:
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Silage has to be cut when it is ready, regardless if the field is muddy. Therefore sometimes the silage trucks get stuck and have to be towed through the field. The green parts are the device, the rest is a stand to show it off. The horizontal bar attaches to the drawbar of the tractor. The vertical portion attaches to the 3-point. It is designed to that the tractor driver can hook on to a silage truck without getting out of the cab.
 

T. J.

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#6
TJ, those are some amazing young men! Thanks for sharing.
Not just young men, there are some pretty talented young ladies as well!
 

T. J.

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#7
Dump trailer built by the senior class:
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Notice the tailgate in the last two pics. It is capable of hinging at the top for dumping, or hinging at the bottom to act as a ramp. The kids came up with this design themselves. They told me it did take a couple of tries before they got it right :)
 

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T. J.

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#8
Livestock trailer:
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Somehow I managed to only get one pic of this one, but it is pretty nice!
 

T. J.

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#9
Welding trailer built by the young ladies in the photo:
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image.jpeg
 

T. J.

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#10
Sprayer:
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Pig hauler (slips in the back of a pickup):
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Cotton bale mover (attaches to tractor):
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T. J.

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#11
Post puller attachment for a skid loader:


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Hay feeder:
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Brick maker/log splitter:
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Clever little device for making bricks like those to the right. They are made from material such as cotton burs, straw, etc mixed with water and flour. They can then be burned for fuel. The upper right brick is adobe (clay & straw). It also doubles as a log splitter.
 

T. J.

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#12
Workbench:
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How many of us wouldn't love to have that in our shop?

Pergola and fire pit:
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The girls built the pergola/swing. The boy built the fire pit.
 

T. J.

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#13
This is all of the prizes that were won at the three shows that they went to.
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#14
That is very impressive..
 

RJSakowski

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#15
Not just young men, there are some pretty talented young ladies as well!
OK TJ. I had only seen the first two pictures but clearly the young ladies are impressive too. We would have a lot fewer problems in this country with more people like that. Hats off to all the people that are involved.
 

gonzo

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#16
I am amazed at the scale of those projects. It makes the high school airplane build class I am teaching pale by comparison.
 

markba633csi

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#17
Very impressive, those kids are learning by doing- and boy are they doing!
Mark
 

kvt

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#18
Very impressive. I just realized that you are in the area I grew up. Little place called Gruver. We did some stuff when I was in school and from what I understand they do more now. But no Machining. Often times it was make what you needed or do without, So you got creative at times. but what those kids made looks like a professional shop made them.
 

T. J.

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#19
Very impressive. I just realized that you are in the area I grew up. Little place called Gruver. We did some stuff when I was in school and from what I understand they do more now. But no Machining. Often times it was make what you needed or do without, So you got creative at times. but what those kids made looks like a professional shop made them.
Glad to know there's a Greyhound in our midst!;)

Our program has come a long way since I was in school. They take advantage of a lot of the government auctions that are only open to other governmental agencies. This has allowed them to get a lot of equipment that otherwise would be out of reach.
 

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#20
This is very impressive! But I can’t help wondering where the money comes from. In our towns here, we have to combine up to 3 or 4 high schools just to have enough money for sports uniforms. I can’t imagine what sort of financial gymnastics would be required in order to fund a single Miller welder that needed a trailer. Let alone all the other stuff.
 

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#21
FFA is not simply a " class at school " . It is a national organization that you can think of as similar to 4H clubs and to a large degree self funding . They have " slave auctions " where local businesses and community people buy the services of a FFA member for a period of time , sell garden seedlings that they start , auction projects such as above after completion ect.. The quality of the local FFA will be highly dependent on the quality of the local instructor/coordinator and the level of community support that they can rally behind the program .
 

brino

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#22
Being in Canada, I had no idea what "FFA" was, so I decided to look it up.
It took a few minutes of poking around at their website to discover that it stands for "Future Farmers of America".
Here's a web site: https://www.ffa.org/home

It looks like a fantastic organization based on the results above!

-brino
 

kvt

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#23
I know what is funding the school in my home time now is what they get off the Wind generator farms in the county. There are a lot of them and they have funded even building new buildings for school gym etc. I know some of the stuff they build is also sold at auctions, to help pay for other stuff. From what I understand one of the big framers left his estate to the school and if the kids work the farm during high school so many hours a year, Summer after school etc, the estate pays most of the 4 year degree at West Tx A&M in Canyon Tx. With they had that when I was in school.
 

jwmay

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#24
I apologize for being the one to send this thread in a different direction. These kids, and what they are doing is awesome. I applaud them, and am very glad to see the engineering talents of young Americans in action. I’ve not been one to think negatively of the future, but it’s definitely good to see my faith in humanity has merit. These kids, and those who are guiding them should be recognized more often. Thank you very much for posting.
 

FarmDad

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#25
I apologize for being the one to send this thread in a different direction. These kids, and what they are doing is awesome. I applaud them, and am very glad to see the engineering talents of young Americans in action. I’ve not been one to think negatively of the future, but it’s definitely good to see my faith in humanity has merit. These kids, and those who are guiding them should be recognized more often. Thank you very much for posting.
I never thought for an instant you were negative, rather I thought you asked a relevant question about the funding . I happened to have some experience with FFA, though my school didn't offer it back in the stone age when I attended , so I answered as best as I could explain how it works .
 

T. J.

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#26
I apologize for being the one to send this thread in a different direction. These kids, and what they are doing is awesome. I applaud them, and am very glad to see the engineering talents of young Americans in action. I’ve not been one to think negatively of the future, but it’s definitely good to see my faith in humanity has merit. These kids, and those who are guiding them should be recognized more often. Thank you very much for posting.
I didn't take it negatively either. In fact, I was expecting someone to bring up the funding question. We are lucky to have a very supportive community when it comes to things like this, who help through fundraisers, donations, etc. We have a wonderful advisor/ag teacher who teaches the skills. These projects are "commissioned" by someone who needs the equipment. They supply the materials and the kids build them. The welding trailer pictured above was built as a fundraiser and was auctioned off at the event where I took the photos. Basically, many things are possible when a community gets behind it. That's one of the many reasons I like living in a small town.
 

mattthemuppet2

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#27
fabulous! thanks for sharing. Texas certainly is a very diverse place - we through from north eastern New Mexico and then Lubbock on our way down to San Antonio for our move and the change in scenery was fascinating. I loved seeing all the wind turbines amongst the nodding donkeys (pump jacks).
 
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