As he drove a Case 2294 tractor to school Thursday morning, Seymour High School junior Logan Hoene kept a picture of his grandfather in the cab.
The tractor was David Hoene’s, and it was his way of honoring the man, who died in November while cutting down a tree, Logan Hoene said.
“It just makes you feel close to him; and driving the tractor, it was his, and it means a lot to me,” Hoene said after he and eight other Seymour FFA members gathered in the school parking lot and made a lap around the school for Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
Hoene said he spent 10 hours Tuesday working to get the black, white and orange tractor in tip-top shape.
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“I had to wax it, shine the tires up,” he said. “I just wanted to make grandpa proud and bring it to school and show it off, show how nice of a tractor it is.”
Hoene said he spent a lot of time around his grandfather through the years and learned about tractors. He said his grandfather taught him how to drive the Case 2294, which is mainly used for spraying and fertilizing.
“Him teaching me how to drive stuff, you just hop in and go,” Hoene said.
While it’s not every day Hoene gets to drive a tractor to school, he made the most of the opportunity.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said, smiling. “It’s different, but it’s fun.”
It also was a way for Hoene to carry on his grandfather’s lifestyle and share it with others. He said his grandfather started out using a 460 Farmall tractor with a bottom plow on 30 acres, and that land is now up to 2,000 acres.
“I love it,” Hoene said. “It’s the kind of life I would like to have, like his. It’s just something interesting to do, and I’ve always had a passion to do it.”
Jeanna Eppley, the school’s FFA adviser and agriculture teacher, said Drive Your Tractor to School Day is a longtime tradition. Seymour is among many FFA chapters across the country that participate in the event.
It’s usually one of the activities during National FFA Week, celebrated Feb. 21 to 28 this year. But since it has been cold or snowing around that time the past couple of years, Eppley said, Seymour celebrates the week before spring break.
“In previous years, we had to cancel it, so that was kind of a step ahead of avoiding that situation,” Eppley said of Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
The week consisted of sharing tips with the student body via school announcements. For example, when they approach a slow-moving vehicle or farm implement, wait for the farmer to wave you around.
The school’s FFA officers also attended the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s Ag Day Breakfast on Wednesday.
Eppley said students had to turn in a permission slip and promise to follow the rules to participate in Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
“I know some schools have had to stop doing it because kids don’t respect the situation and it can become dangerous,” she said. “These kids have to practice the safety aspect of it. They have to make sure they follow the rules so we can keep doing it.”
When other students at the school see the FFA members drive their tractors to school, they ask a lot of questions.
“They just ask me what kind of tractor it is, what year it is,” Hoene said. “I just tell them what it’s used for and stuff like that.”
Senior Evan Barnett said he doesn’t mind telling other students about his tractor.
“They ask who you got it from, what do you guys do on the farm with it, just general questions,” Barnett said.
Eppley said it’s good for other students to be exposed to tractors and learn about them.
She also said learning about tractors is good for her FFA members because a lot of them work on farms.
“That’s more and more what our students are having exposure to is working for other people,” she said. “Today, we have represented a very modern tractor that I am sure is GPS-driven and has the capabilities of that all the way down to one that some of the kids that have never been in an older tractor probably don’t even know that push-to-start buttons exist on them.”
While Hoene has been around farming and tractors since a young age, Barnett said he didn’t start working on a farm until he was 13.
Even though it topped out at 25 mph, Barnett said he didn’t have a problem driving an International 1066 tractor from Reddington.
He usually drives a truck to school, so this was a different change of pace.
“It’s different,” he said, smiling. “But I love driving tractors. It doesn’t bother me a bit to drive them.”
Each year he has participated in the event, Barnett said he has driven a different tractor. This year, a former boss allowed him to drive one of his tractors.
That one didn’t have a cab, so taking the open-top tractor from Reddington made for a bit of a chilly drive.
But it was worth it to Barnett because it helps continue the tradition of Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
“We all like it. We love driving tractors,” he said. “It’s just part of the whole FFA experience, the whole agriculture experience, too.”