The Fergus Mechanics Contest is an annual FFA Career Development Event hosted by the Lewistown FFA Alumni.
It invites students from all over Montana to show off their knowledge about current agricultural mechanical topics. Teams made up of three to four members are comprehensively challenged in the areas of: construction, wind farms, livestock, integrated pest management, part and tool identification, measuring, electrical, small engines, welding, and team problems in each of the aforementioned.
The students and teams are divided up according to their age into the Greenhand division (7-9th grade) and the Senior division (10-12th grade). Nearly 100 students made the trip to Lewistown, MT to compete in the event this past weekend.
Seven Shelby FFA members made the trip to see if they were among the top agricultural mechanics in the state. At the end of the contest, the students are treated to a BBQ beef lunch while results are tallied. The MT State FFA Officers announce the individual and team winners during the luncheon. There is a lot of excitement that builds when the results are being announced. As the winners are announced, the top individuals get their pick from a huge array of donated prizes from the front table. Prizes range from new welding helmets, toolkits, measuring devices and countless other tools. Local businesses pride in providing quality prizes for the kids. The top teams receive trophies that can be proudly displayed in their schools or classroom.
The Shelby Senior team comprised of Alex Stratton, Alex Zimmerman, and Evan Riphenburg placed 10th out of 22 teams. Alex Stratton was the top individual for Shelby placing 26th out of 61 competitors.
The Shelby Greenhand team comprised of Joryn Bunnell, Connar Miller, Bryce Lee, and Ryan Simpson showed that they were there to compete. And that they did. They were the 1st place team at the competition in the Greenhand division. Narrowly defeating the Ruby Valley and Missoula FFA chapters, the young Coyote team took home the 1st place trophy. Ryan Simpson was the top individual placing 8th out of 23 and Joryn Bunnell nipping at his heels placing 11th individually.
FFA Advisor Thad White talked about his teams, “This was the first competition for the younger kids and their first FFA event. All of these kids did very well in the JH Ag Shop class so I knew they had it in them to be competitive. When they announced the individual placers, it seemed they did pretty well but I didn’t think we were in contention to be the top placing team. Ruby Valley and Missoula are always the top placers. When those teams were announced as the 3rd and 2nd placed teams, I was amazed and then it sunk it that our kids placed 1st. It’s quite an accomplishment for our kids to do so well.”
There are plenty of competitions coming up this year. In February, the kids will compete in the public speaking Leadership Development Events in Great Falls. Then in March, there is a mechanics and agronomy competition in Choteau. The state contests will be held in Bozeman in April for the teams that qualify. The summer will be busy as well with the annual Range Days competition being held in June at Dillon, MT.