Class Project to Restore 1943 Tractor Builds Academic Skills
MOSCOW, Idaho – A class project to renovate a 1943 John Deere tractor helped keep Jacob Hudson of Redmond, Wash., grounded while he studied agribusiness at the University of Idaho.
As a freshman, he found it a challenge to shift from life on the farm with its chances to exercise his initiative and problem solve in a material way to an academic lifestyle with mainly mental exercises.
As a sophomore, he learned about the agricultural education class in tractor renovation and knew he’d found an out, a route back to more familiar territory.
“So for me and this class, it was really key to my success at the university,” Hudson said. “Especially in the College of Ag, you’re taking kids off the farm and putting them into the university environment. This was where I was able to hit my stride because I knew how to do it.”
James Connors, the agricultural education and 4-H youth development department head, said the tractor project and the class had real academic goals, too.
“The students learned to work in teams, to develop leadership skills, to do research and to solve problems together,” Connors said. The focus was a 70-year-old tractor, but the lessons will last throughout their lives.
The nine students who took the class in the fall and spring semesters devoted more than 1,000 hours to the project. Their research traced the tractor’s history from its manufacture by John Deere, through shipping manifests to the Everett Will tractor dealership in Moscow and delivery to Viola, Idaho, farmer James Gray in 1943.
The class unveiled the restored tractor during a finals week potluck May 8 that drew agricultural education faculty, college administrators including Interim Dean John Foltz and tractor aficionados like David and Nancy Ruark of Pomeroy, Wash., who are active in the Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club.
As the evening ended, Hudson mentored several visitors on the fine art of driving the 70-year-old John Deere Model AW, including the interim dean.
“That was a lot of fun, and it was a great project that we’d like to see future students have the same opportunity to learn from and enjoy,” Foltz said.