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Birdville ISD Students Polish Tractor to Perfection

There will be plenty of things to see and do over the 23-day run of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, but the heart of the show is the kids who go to compete.

They'll earn scholarship money, ribbons and bragging rights.

"I feel confident. My thoughts are, 'I think we're gonna do well,'" said Will Schreck, a senior at Birdville Center of Technology and Advanced Learning in North Richland Hills.

Will and 11 classmates in the Automotive Technology and Agricultural Sciences programs are first time competitors at the Stock Show.

"I said yes, because I wanted a learning experience," Schreck told NBC 5. "All of us willing said yes, we all volunteered for this."

They're competing in the Junior Agricultural Mechanics Project Show. Kids are judged on projects that have a place in agriculture and on a ranch. The entries stretch from bird feeders to deer blinds to restored tractors and all kinds of things in between.

The Birdville ISD students were encouraged by their ag and automotive instructors to take on the challenge of restoring a decades-old tractor.

Tyler Harris, 18, remembers the day he first saw the tractor "all rusted out, a pile of junk."

"It was a, 'This is gonna be a lot of work moment,'" added Schreck.

They got the tractor in November, a 1941 Farmall-A that was once used on a fig orchard in Euless.

"This came from the Melson family," Schreck said. "They bought it from a farmer who brought it brand new. We do have a donor whose paying for all the restorations."

Every part was rusted. Every hose busted. And the engine was dead.

It took two long months of hard work, long nights and weekends to bring back the tractor's former beauty.

The work tested the team like never before. Their task was monumental.

"None of them knew much about a tractor, so they've learned from scratch," said agricultural sciences instructor Greg Clifton. "And I couldn't be prouder of a group of students that have worked hard and learned."

Here's how Schreck describes the project: "A full restoration means we took every piece of metal, every nut and bolt off. We sandblasted all the metal. We cleaned all the interiors, like the engine, rebuilt the engine, rebuilt the transmission, put it all back together and fired it right up."

"Almost had second thoughts, but we kept going," Harris said. "It was really rough at first, but we did pretty good."

The proof of their performance happened when they fired up the old tractor for the first time.

"It raised the confidence," Harris said.

"One of the best feelings ever. It means we did something right," Schreck said. 

The young men hope the judges at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo agree they did it right and deserve to win. They may be a rookie team, but confidence is high.

"I'm not too worried about it," Harris said. "I think we did a really good job on it."

The team from BCTAL will take their restored tractor from the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo onto ag mechanics competitions during the the San Antonio and Houston stock shows and rodeos.

Once the shows are over, the tractor will be returned to the Melson family and donated to the Euless Heritage Museum.

And, in that museum, the 1941 Farmall-A will stand as a symbol of the polished perfection that can come from elbow grease, teamwork and fortitude.

"This was a chance to shine and show their skills on the ag side of things in something they didn't know anything about. So, I think the challenge is that bought into. They didn't hold back. They jumped right in," Clifton said.

"As you see, this is from our teamwork and our hard work that we put in to it," Schreck said. "What I learned about myself is that, I guess, I have the stamina to stay on a long build like this."

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