‘Not all about agriculture’
Some people restore tractors as a hobby. Others may take on the project to acquire new skills, but for Panorama FFA member Maisie Knapp, restoring tractors is all about family.
“I just want to make my dad proud,” said Knapp, explaining that the Farmall H she recently restored belongs to her father and grandmother.
When beginning the project last August, Knapp knew that the tractor would need new parts, a thorough cleaning job and a whole lot of love.
“I took it all apart and found out everything for sure we’d need to order,” she explained. “We ordered everything right then so when we needed it, we could put it on. Then, we power washed it and got all the dirt out of the nooks and crannies.”
Students are responsible for purchasing the materials and parts necessary for their projects. On average, this costs around $3,000-$5,000 per project, but preserving family equipment is often worth the expense.
Panorama FFA instructor Evan Babcock explains that a lot of students work on family-owned equipment that holds sentimental value.
“We get a lot of ‘Grandpa bought this new,’ or ‘it was an uncle’s,’” said Babcock.
While Panorama FFA does anywhere between four and seven restorations each year, Knapp’s tractor marked a special milestone for the group: the 50th restoration since Babcock began the farm equipment restoration program in the 2006-2007 school year.
“I never would have thought that we’d do 50 in one school in this short of time,” said Babcock.
Knapp says that her friendly competitiveness is what pushed her to finish the tractor and snag the 50th restoration title before anyone else.
“I couldn’t have done it without everyone that helped me out,” said Knapp, giving a special shoutout to fellow Panorama classmates Dillon Bennett, Trevor Carey and Preston Prince.
“There was a small team of people who pitched in to make this happen,” said Babcock. “I was really glad to see this one get finished.”
Knapp also thanked her father, who supported her throughout the entire project.
“He would text me and ask me what went on that day or if there was anything new that I needed for parts, and he’d come check it out,” said Knapp.
Now that the restoration is complete, Knapp is looking forward to fall, when she will show her tractor at the Iowa State Fair and the Guthrie County Fair.
“We’re not going to use the tractor until the fair is over,” said Knapp. “We have a harvest party every year, and we pull a hayrack with this tractor. My dad also uses it to take bales of hay out to the cows in the winter.”
Knapp says that being in FFA and working on projects like this has helped her gain more confidence and learn important life skills.
“It’s taught me more about (deadlines) and also leadership because I’m one of the treasurers for the officer team,” said Knapp.
Babcock agrees, highlighting how important groups like FFA are in teaching students about agriculture and other important life experiences.
“If nothing else, it gives students some confidence to understand that they can do a lot of different things,” said Babcock. “It’s not all about agriculture. A lot of it is just about life skills.”