Monterey teens wins state tractor contest

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2010

MONTEREY — Connor Moreland, 15, has always been around tractors.

Friday afternoon, he was raking hay, and that’s not an unusual Friday activity.

“I am always fooling around with stuff like that, cutting hay or something,” Moreland said.

“I grew up around that kind of stuff, and I like doing that kind of stuff.”

So it’s really no surprise that Moreland recently won the title of state champion in the compact tractor contest at 4-H University, three-day event in which 4-H members go to LSU campus in Baton Rouge and compete in various contests.

Moreland’s contest required him to be able to identify 25 parts from a small tractor engine.

Likewise, it required him to be able to pilot a compact tractor — in this case, a lawnmower — around an obstacle course.

This was his third year to compete in the compact tractor contest, and before he went 4-H Agent Joe Barinsfather helped him set up an obstacle course for practice.

The compact tractor handled differently than the tractor Moreland worked with when he helped his grandfather plant soybeans this year, but he got a feel for the course and was ready for it when contest time came around.

The other half of the contest required honing his mental skills.

“We took apart an old lawnmower, studied the parts and learned some tools you use,” he said.

And after that, it was just a matter of going out there and doing what he had trained for, Moreland said.

“If you don’t know it, it is hard,” he said. “After doing it for three years, I knew what to do.”

The prize for wining the state contest is a trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., which will include tours of local landmarks and whitewater rafting.

Moreland, 15, will enter the 10th grade at Monterey High School in the fall.