As the sun rose Thursday morning, five Trinity Lutheran High School FFA members chugged their way to school.
Leaving their typical mode of transportation idle, the students put the keys in the ignition of a tractor and drove it to the Seymour school.
It was time for the annual tradition of Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
Senior Cassidy Burnside came all the way from south of Vallonia, sophomore Hannah Kerkhof and freshman Andrew Bell drove from the Cortland area and juniors Jake Mau and Luke Pollert drove down from Columbus.
Once each of them arrived in the school parking lot, they parked their tractor among the cars, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.
The tractors stood out, and that’s a good thing because it allowed the FFA members to educate others about the organization and their family’s farming lifestyle.
“I think it is pretty cool because a lot of the kids in our school maybe don’t understand what all we do on the farm, and this is just a little snippet of what agriculture means to us and how we represent the industry,” Burnside said. “It’s just a really cool tradition since not many schools around here do this anymore, just to be unique in the community and represent FFA and agriculture in my community.”
This was her fourth and final year to drive her tractor to school. Each year, she has brought a different one. This time, it was a John Deere 9410R.
“I left about 6:30. It took an hour and 15 minutes,” Burnside side of her trek in the tractor. “There was a lot of traffic. Everyone is like, ‘What are they doing this early in the morning?’”
Kerkhof said she got the same reaction.
“I left home at 7 o’clock this morning, and it took me about 45 minutes to get here. My dad followed me in a truck,” she said. “A lot of people were like, ‘What? She’s driving a tractor on the road this early?’ There were a lot of stares.”
Kerkhof drove a John Deere 5095.
“It’s a loader tractor,” she said. “We use it to scoop to move gravel and logs and stuff. It’s the smallest one here. It doesn’t have duals or anything. It’s a nice tractor. I like it.”
She also was glad to have an opportunity to share her love of farming and FFA.
“It’s a good way to represent ag in a small school,” Kerkhof said.
Bell’s tractor was the only non-John Deere. He drove an orange Allis-Chalmers.
“I was going to bring a different one that’s bigger than that, but we had some difficulties with it,” he said.
Bell had to leave his home a few miles past Cortland at 6:30 a.m. At that time, he said it was a little cold outside. Fortunately, the tractor has an enclosed cab.
“I think it’s real fun, and I tried to convince some other guys to do it, but they didn’t want to wake up early,” he said, smiling.
Mau and Pollert, who live in Seymour and Vallonia, respectively, both went up to a man’s farm in Columbus to get John Deere tractors. It took them about a half-hour to get to Trinity.
This was their first time participating in Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
“I just wanted to hop in on it, and I wanted to support FFA and show what we do,” Mau said. “Not a lot of people do it anymore. It’s just a way to show people what people do on the farm and support them.”
Pollert said it was good to leave his truck at home for the day and take the tractor.
“I enjoyed it because it was the first opportunity I’ve had yet to do it. I found it fun,” he said. “I think it shows what it takes for farmers and all of the equipment it takes.”
Adviser Bryan Schroer said Drive Your Tractor to School Day corresponds with National FFA Week, which was Feb. 23 to 28. Last Thursday was snowy and cold, so they moved the event to this week in hopes it would be a little warmer.
Trinity has celebrated the special day every year since the school’s FFA chapter was established in 2005.
“It’s a tradition during FFA Week that they drive tractors to school,” Schroer said. “It shows the rest of the school a different part of what ag is about and gives the kids a chance to have a little fun.”
While Mau doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, he said he would consider bringing his tractor to school every day.
“I wouldn’t mind it,” he said, smiling.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Pull Quote” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
"I think it is pretty cool because a lot of the kids in our school maybe don’t understand what all we do on the farm, and this is just a little snippet of what agriculture means to us and how we represent the industry."
Trinity Lutheran High School senior and FFA member Cassidy Burnside on Drive Your Tractor to School Day