Block High School hosts FFA fundraising, showcasing event

Published 11:47 pm Saturday, February 27, 2010

JONESVILLE — Agricultural studies students at Block High School had a dilemma one year ago.

There were five spare Honda lawn mower engines, and they didn’t know what to do with them. The eight engines had been sold to the Block students for $300 because Honda was discontinuing their production.

“We received the motors, and the kids kept asking what we were going to do with them,” said Tammy Faulkner, an agriculture teacher at Block.

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“I didn’t know what to do but to take them apart and put them back together. After a welding competition, they asked me again, and I joked and said, ‘Let’s build a racing lawn mower.’”

Her students didn’t take the suggestion as a joke, though.

“Two days later, I found one of my students whose dad had bought him a racing lawn mower frame. He was putting the engine in.”

On Saturday, a year after the engines were donated, Block High School hosted its second annual lawn mower racing exhibition. A modified track constructed behind the high school served as a means for both students and racing professionals to showcase their skills in the sport. Professional racers were given the chance to circle the track and showcase their skills on the lawn mower, while Block students participated in a drag race around the course.

“We started this event last year,” coordinator Rob Bruit said. “We just kind of threw it together last year, with no advertising, and still have 300 people show up.”

And more events are planned, Bruit added.

“We want to continue to do this. We’d like to have three more races before the end of the school year.”

Faulkner said she’d like for those races to be in April and May, before the summer months hit.

“As an agricultural teacher, we have a lot going on,” Faulkner said. “Last summer, I think I was home maybe two weeks.”

Although Saturday’s race was just an exhibition, Faulkner said she plans on the future races to be officially counted by a professional organization.

“The main thing for today’s event is to show what these kids are learning: physics, mechanics and welding,” Faulkner said. “We want them to showcase their abilities.”

Although she makes her students join the student organization Future Farmers of America, and compete in its events, Faulkner said that doesn’t generate the exposure that a local event like the lawn mower race does.

“Yeah, we do that with FFA, but unless they get in the paper, no one physically sees their work,” Faulkner said. “We want the community to physically see what they’re creating.

“We plan to use these events as fundraisers, so the kids don’t have to pay to go to FFA camp, state competitions and hopefully national competitions one day.”

FFA boasts itself as being the largest student-run organization in the world, Faulkner said. Although she acts as a resource if her students need help with something, Faulkner said she leaves the day-to-day operations of FFA to her pupils.

“I’m an advisor. The kids run the program.”

In addition, Faulker is also a Jack-of-all-trades when it comes to teaching her students many different skills.

“As an agriculture teacher, I teach everything from leadership to welding. I’m also teaching a veterinary technician course this semester, as part of Louisiana Technical College. It’s a two-year course, and if they finish, they get a veterinary assistant’s license.”

With so many opportunities opening up for her students, Faulkner said she’s happy they get to put on events like the lawn mower race.

“I love it,” she said. “This is what they work for.”