By Melissa A. Nagel, Feature Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
Frontier High School senior Madison Spickler took a unique approach for her FFA (Future Farmers of America) project this year at the Kern County Fair. Rather than raising and presenting an animal at the fair, Madison chose to restore a vintage 1942 John Deere Model H tractor that she inherited from her late grandfather Fred Williams. He had mainly used the tractor for Hit and Miss Motor Shows, one of his life’s hobbies.
Madison has been a member of Frontier’s FFA program since her freshman year in 2019. When asked why she chose to restore a tractor rather than raise an animal, her response was “animals aren’t personally my thing.” She also cited the fact that after her grandfather passed away the summer before her 8th-grade year, her grandmother was left to make the decision on what to do with his beloved tractor. This sparked an idea in Madison’s head, and she asked her grandmother to save the tractor for her to use as her FFA project when she began high school.
Madison said she always knew she would follow in her family’s footsteps and join FFA once she got to high school. When the time came, the family had the tractor moved from Greenville to Bakersfield and Madison began restoring the John Deere tractor with the help of her dad and brother. Some of the repairs that needed to be made included replacing the grills that surround the front of the tractor, which had been rigged with old chicken wire from a previous owner.
A new PTO guard, which is meant to keep clothing, arms, and legs safe from being caught while the tractor is in operation, was also installed. The tractor received a fresh coat of John Deere green paint and fitted with new headlights which will be used during the Christmas season as Madison’s father gives hayrides while dressed as Santa Claus in Bakersfield’s Olde Stockdale area.
Now that the tractor restoration is considered complete and Madison will be graduating with Frontier’s class of 2023, the family plans to keep the tractor rather than sell it—which is usually the end result for most FFA projects. When asked what her plans are for after high school, Madison said she plans to stay local for the first couple of years and likely attend Bakersfield College before moving on to a four-year university. She plans to major in history but also continue her studies into agriculture as well.