Virginia 4-H Tractor Club cultivates skills and memories, one tractor at a time

From toy tractors to real farming machinery, this group of 4-Hers are learning the ropes of farming and tractor restoration, enthusiastically sharing their interests with their community in Smith County, Virginia.

When you think of a county fair, you might envision blue ribbons, livestock shows, and maybe even a quirky game of donkey basketball. But at the Rich Valley Fair in Smith County, Virginia, there is an altogether more unique attraction driving young visitors to attend. That is, an exhibit created by the Southwest Virginia 4-H Tractor Club, a group of young tractor aficionados, who are on a mission to become tractor experts and also have a blast doing it.

The Southwest Virginia 4-H Tractor Club was formed in May 2022 and has since grown from about eight members to over 20. For these young participants, it is more than just a club. It is a chance to learn, engage with the public, and have fun. At the fair, they are the ones running the show—managing everything from fund-raising efforts to deciding how to allocate their funds. This hands-on experience not only nurtures their creativity but also teaches them valuable life skills.

The club offers a unique opportunity to work on tractors of all sizes, from the tiniest toy models to full-sized machines. With members ranging in age from 5 to 19, the younger ones focus on the toys, while the teens dive into the world of real tractors.

Last year, in collaboration with the Old Glade Antique Tractor Association, the club rescued a piece of farming history from the scrap heap and brought it back to life, raising $5,000 in the process. The tractor was raffled off, and the winner graciously returned it to the club for another chance at finding a new home.

However, the club is about more than just tractors. It aims to instill 4-Hers with valuable skills and knowledge that these young enthusiasts can carry into adulthood. Whether on the farm or in support of farmers, these skills have a practical application and provide them with a strong foundation for their future.

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