"We’ve got 1,500 kids from 250 different school districts who have made an agricultural-related product and brought it from all over the state to show it off here in Houston," said Justin Kirby, chairman of HLSR's Ag Mechanics Committee.
From next-level chicken coops and lighted horse trailers to self-dumping hay trailers and plasma tables, the contest features projects made from scratch.
"For my senior project this year, I decided to build a CNC plasma table because I want to start my own metal fabrication business," said Silverton FFA's Lindee Miller.
She started putting the plasma table together over Christmas break.
"Since then, I’ve had four ag periods a day, so I work on it during the day, then after school until 9:30, 10 o’clock at night," Miller said. "It’s just putting a lot of work into the details of everything and making everything perfect."
She plans to put the equipment to use at her family’s cotton farm, where she’ll be able to design and cut out metal signs and even machine parts.
"Some of our equipment is older and they discontinue the parts just because it is a little outdated," said Miller.
Third grader Zeke Pate, along with his partner, made a home entry gate for his family's property in Tilden. They fabricated the entire thing: cutting the metal, welding and weaving it, even burning and treating the wood.
"We spent about six months, but only one day a week," Pate, who's 9 years old, said.
By comparison, restoring a Farmall 140 took William Harrison roughly a year and nine months.
"About 240 hours of work time," shared the Klein Forest FFA student.
He says working on the restoration taught him patience and consistency on top of basic repair skills.
"I’m going to go to college at Navarro and go into their John Deere program to become a John Deere technician," Harrison said.
Some of these kids will go straight into the workforce, which is why the contest also hosts a job fair.
"We’re helping kids find careers, high-paying jobs," said Kirby. "This preps them for a career. It could prep them for a career in welding, it could prep them for a career in construction."
Most importantly, the contest unlocks a passion for the students, allowing them to dream, build and create.
"I know that I’m always going to use the skills I learned in Ag Mechanics," Miller said.
If you want to check out all the Ag Mechanics projects for yourself, you'll have to pop into NRG Center the final weekend of Rodeo next year.