Josiah Foster’s great-grandfather restored a 1948 Farmall H tractor.
Wyatt Otte’s grandfather had always wanted a Case International 7139 tractor.
Cassidy Burnside’s family uses a 1983 485R John Deere tractor on their farm.
The three Trinity Lutheran High School students took different modes of transportation to school Monday.
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Participating in Drive Your Tractor to School Day, they were able to promote the school’s FFA chapter since it was the culminating activity for National FFA Week.
They also could educate other students on their tractor, agriculture and FFA, and it was an opportunity to share their family’s lifestyle with others.
“We use it more than any other tractor that we have,” Otte, a junior, said of the tractor he drove. “Before my grandpa passed away, he had always wanted one of those tractors, and my dad wanted to fulfill his dream of having one.”
Foster also considered it an honor to showcase a tractor that has special meaning to his family.
“We get it running as much as we can just to keep it nice,” the junior said. “I don’t get a whole lot of opportunity to drive it.”
Burnside, a sophomore, said the tractor she drove is used by her father for custom harvesting.
“I think it’s really cool because some people, especially ones that don’t come from a farming background, don’t understand what it is we do,” she said. “Especially last year with being a freshman and being a girl, they would ask me, ‘Oh my gosh, you drove that?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I did. I do it all of the time.’”
Trinity FFA adviser Bryan Schroer said Drive Your Tractor to School Day has been an annual event since the school’s FFA chapter was established in 2005.
In years past, Schroer said more students have participated. Of the 15 FFA members, he said only a few live on farms and use tractors, and a couple of students weren’t able to participate because they leave school early for work study.
He said it was still good to see the tractors in the school’s parking lot because it could draw other students to join FFA.
“It’s still a pretty rural area. Most kids know what it’s about, but some of them don’t understand what agriculture is about,” he said. “FFA Week is a way for (members) to have a little fun and to show off different aspects of agriculture. We’re trying to promote agriculture.”
Otte, Foster and Burnside have participated in Drive Your Tractor to School Day since they were freshmen at Trinity.
That requires leaving earlier for school since the tractors only go between 20 and 30 mph.
Otte lives near Jonesville, so he just had to take State Road 11 most of the way until turning off to Trinity.
Foster lives near Uniontown, but he said his father moved the tractor so he would only have a 20-minute drive because it doesn’t have lights on it.
Burnside drove her tractor from Vallonia, which took about an hour.
All three arrived at school on time and parked their tractors in the parking lot next to other students’ vehicles.
“I live on a farm, so I get to drive tractors a lot, but it’s different when you get to do it for FFA and drive them to your school,” Otte said. “It’s not really showing off. It’s just showing that you’re proud you’re in FFA and you enjoy it. It’s just an opportunity to tell them who you are and what you like to do and what you enjoy, and it just gives them more of an insight of how dedicated we are to that lifestyle.”
Foster said he was OK with leaving his normal mode of transportation — a truck — at home for the day.
“It’s just a good opportunity to do something a little different, and it’s nice to drive your tractor with your friends,” he said. “It shows how important FFA is to us and how much stuff we actually do, how involved we are. We do a lot of work during the school year.”
Burnside said it was good to carry on the school’s tradition of Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
“Hopefully like I did, there will be younger students that will keep it going, and it’s just something interesting that not many schools do anymore,” she said.
The students hope to see others join FFA.
“If they see something like that, they are like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. That’s what you guys do in FFA?’” Burnside said. “It’s just to open people’s eyes to realize what we do, and maybe it’s something they would enjoy but they never thought they would.”
“It’s not really showing off. It’s just showing that you’re proud you’re in FFA and you enjoy it. It’s just an opportunity to tell them who you are and what you like to do and what you enjoy, and it just gives them more of an insight of how dedicated we are to that lifestyle.”
Trinity Lutheran High School junior Wyatt Otte on Drive Your Tractor to School Day