Kentucky students turn heads, raise awareness with 13th annual Bring Your Tractor to School event
Published 5:34 am Monday, May 3, 2021
After COVID-19 threw a wrench into most everything last year, Drive Your Tractor to School Day was back on schedule for one Kentucky school.
On Friday 11 tractors, 10 driven by students and one by a staff member, took part of what has become an annual event sponsored by the Franklin County High School FFA chapter .
Jonathan Mitchell drives his tractor Friday at Drive Your Tractor to School Day at Franklin County High School. (Linda Younkin/State Journal)
“It’s the best day of the year,” FCHS agriculture teacher Kylen Douglas said. “It just raises awareness of how important agriculture is in the community, and it shows people how many are involved in agriculture, from the big time farmer to the backyard farmer and everyone in between.”
This was the 13th year for the event.
Students had their tractors at the Franklin County Extension Office next to Lakeview Park Friday morning. With an escort from the sheriff’s department, the parade of tractors went down Steadmantown Lane and turned right onto U.S. 460 for the short trip to FCHS, traveling 7-8 mph.
Those participating hauled their tractors to the extension office.
“In a perfect world they bring them the night before,” Douglas said, “but there was so much rain last night that they brought them this morning.”
Friday was the fourth time senior Jonathan Mitchell, vice president of the FFA chapter, had driven his tractor to school, but he’s been around the event for eight years because older sister Molly used to participate.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You get out of school, other students get out of school and get to see the tractors and ask questions about them.”
Carley Mika, a sophomore, has been in FFA two years, but Friday was her first time to drive a tractor to school.
“I was a little nervous,” she said, “but once we got going I was perfectly fine.”
As it is for Mitchell, Drive Your Tractor to School Day is a family event for Mika.
“My sister Gracie drove all four years,” Mika said, “and Dad always puts ‘in memory of Nick Jacoby’ on the tractor.”
Jacoby, a relative of the Mika family, Allen Williams and Ben Laslie were all students at FCHS who died in an automobile accident 10 years ago. They were active in the Franklin County FFA chapter, and a banner is attached to a tractor every year in memory of them.
Other banners on tractors were for businesses and individuals who sponsor the event.
The banners will be displayed on the fence surrounding the FCHS greenhouse, which opened Friday to the public for the sale of plants, hanging baskets and ferns. The greenhouse will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. while supplies last.
Douglas estimates 10 to 12 schools across the state have a Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
“Our administration, Mr. (Charles) Lewis and Mr. (Mark) Kopp, are very supportive of it,” he said, “and we’re thankful for that.” Lewis is the principal at FCHS, and Kopp is the superintendent of Franklin County Schools.
In past years, students came out to see the tractors and ask questions, but this year with COVID concerns the students walked past the tractors, and there was little interaction with the students who drove tractors.
The event is not limited to FFA members.
“I’m not in FFA,” senior Landon Goode said, “but my grandfather handed down this tractor he refurbished, and I thought, ‘why not drive?’”
Goode’s tractor is a 1948 Ford model, and Goode said it was the oldest in the parade Friday.
“This is a giant community event,” he said. “It marks the end of school is coming, and it’s a day where everyone gets out of class and socializes with everybody.”