A team of Dolores agriculture students proved their mechanical know-how during the Future Farmers of America skills competition held in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 28-30.
Ryan Lyons, Michael Sawyer, Riley Syra and Guy Wallace earned a chance to compete at a national level after winning at the district and state competition stages. Out of 143 competitors, they scored in the upper third, earning a gold, three silvers, and a bronze metal. As part of the winnings, the took home a Lincoln welder.
The ag-science events test students on welding, farming mechanics, electrical, and motor-building skills, and other industry-based skills.
“We’re tested on a series of skills, from welding and engine building to math and electrical,” said Lyons. “It’s timed, and we’re judged based on safety, quality, such as strength of the weld, and proper cleanup.”
The students participated in individual events and in team events, then had their work critiqued by experts.
Sawyer loves working on small engines, and was tested on dissembling a cylinder head then putting it back together.
“We’ve been practicing every week for the last three months,” he said. “The practice paid off, and as a team we worked well together.”
In one test, the group of mechanically inclined students were tasked with demonstrating their ability to properly spray a field using high-tech equipment.
“We worked together to make a spreadsheet outlining the job, then had to assemble the sprayer and connect the right nozzles,” Lyons said. “It helps that farming is part of our regular life.”
The students said there is more math involved than people realize.
“We’re all good at math, and that helped us excel, plus we practiced quite a bit,” Sawyer said. “It’s a huge event, with a conference that had thousands of people.”
“It’s a good competition and great to see how serious all the teams are,” Lyons said. “We learned a lot from the from professional critiques after the tests.”
After the competition the fellas blew off some steam.
“Laser tag and mini-golf were a blast,” Sawyer said. “And we visited the National Corvette museum.”