Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 25, 2014

Old tractor a unique project for Paoli schools

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — One man’s trash literally has become a treasure for the Paoli School’s FFA program.

Creating both a lot of educational opportunities and another chance for students to shine was a recent donation of a farm tractor by area resident Roger Patton of Paoli. Since that time going back to October for the Ag power and Tech Course, it has meant motivation for the future for some and at least a better understanding on mechanics for the rest.

“This whole class has kind of been the students that helped with breaking it down,” said Class Instructor Lindsay Pritchard, noting how this is the first time for them working on such an item, though a couple of them have driven a tractor before. “We were all excited about tearing it a part and then we looked at our pile of screws and nut and bolts…. This tractor when they found it, it was sitting in a field and when he gave it to us he knew it would be a challenge for the kids.”

Discussing the project with Pritchard were students Will Stewart, Grub Smith and Katherine Santmyer.  Pritchard noted right away how it is something to do for those who may not be interested in the livestock side of the program. As they have started to better understand the 1955 Ford tractor, they have also been able to learn more about specific parts as well as the tools they are using to restore what was recently just an abandoned piece of machinery.

For Smith, it is a chance to fine-tune skills he has learned working at home and expand them to other types of vehicles. He eventually plans to become a mechanic later and has always enjoyed putting things together again.

“I just like taking things apart, seeing how they work,” said Smith. “Making them work better than they started.”

Santmyer pointed out how working with this tractor and taking it apart has helped her better understand some of the lessons her dad has tried to pass on to her. She noted how before it was harder to follow the same concepts when he would try to explain something.

“Being a little more hands on with it’s easier,” said Santmyer, noting how it has helped her better maintain her own jeep. “It helps me see the basics of what modern tractors are built on... I just wanted to work a little more with motors this year.”

Stewart added how he enjoys the class because it allows him to do something that isn’t just bookwork and it is something he can focus on better than other subjects. They will also be seeking outside advice from individuals who regularly work with tractors as another way to teach students valuable skills.

To help pay for the repair of the vehicle they applied for and received a grant, which will supply them the tires, added Pritchard. It is also being funded by the booster club, which will eventually result in the tractor being sold in a raffle to further help the program.

The goal to finish the tractor is May 12 so the kids can get a chance to take it to shows and competitions.

“It’s been nice having students like Grub with real experiences and past growing up working on things like this and their knowledge of helping out the class,” said Pritchard. “They deserve to be rewarded as much as livestock students and getting to shows is their reward.”