Success is measured in blue (ribbons, that is)


There is a lesser-known contest within the Livestock shows that has been teaching our youth the value of hard work and sacrifice for many years. This project does not involve livestock directly but deals more with the support of livestock and other aspects of agriculture. I am referring to the Ag Mechanics project. The contest has been around since the beginning but usually doesn’t get the same recognition or coverage as the traditional livestock project. I have spoken of the benefits of the livestock project within 4-H and FFA before and it is what most people think of when you mention the County Fair or one of the bigger statewide livestock shows. But I want to shed some light on the Ag Mechanics projects and hopefully spark more interest and awareness of this highly competitive and beneficial contest.

Our youth get involved in Ag Mechanics through either 4-H or FFA and compete with their projects in several contests. But it’s not the contest that I want to highlight. I want to emphasize the time, hard work, planning, teaching, and learning that takes place before the contest. These projects are unique in that they teach students hands on skills in welding, fabrication, and construction that will be used through their entire life. But they also teach other valuable skills that are less apparent such as teamwork, communication, professionalism, time management, and planning. From start to finish, these students come up with a design, plan a materials list, gather materials and equipment needed, and put it all together into a functional product that benefits a consumer.

Countless hours are spent in the classroom, but also after school, sometimes late into the night in order to finish these projects. All of the students work hard and learn to balance multiple tasks and activities in their lives in order to accomplish their goal.

Our community is fortunate to have two great Ag programs in the public schools with Madisonville FFA and North Zulch FFA. Both of these schools invest in the ag mechanic program and provide opportunity for many youth to get involved. These programs are supported by some of the most knowledgeable ag teachers in the state. These teachers devote many long days and nights in teaching and guiding these students through their project experience and are the reason that these students are so successful.

This past week I was privileged to spend time with some of these students as they presented their projects to judges and the public on a grand stage at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition. Madisonville FFA and Madison County 4-H took 16 different projects to the show. These students did so well on their presentations and on their projects that all 16 projects came home with a Blue Ribbon. The Blue Ribbon is sought after by every student that participates. It’s awarded to those that achieve the highest level score on the judges’ cards and signifies excellence in quality and construction. Success came in Blue for all of these students!

Your chance to see them is just around the corner. These projects will go to one more major show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and will end up at the grand finale in the Madison County Fair for all to see.

So come see these incredible projects, constructed by the students of Madison County, and hear their story of struggle, sacrifice and triumph. For more information about the Ag Mechanics show or any other questions please feel free to contact us at the Madison County Extension Office. You can email us at or call at 936-348-2234.