MERCEDES — For months students have been working with their hands welding metal and hammering wood projects big and small to show off at the annual Ag Mechanic showdown.
Students built trailers, truck accessories, barbecue pits, picnic tables, ice chests and much more.
For some students, their projects were completed within a week or two, but for others it took months to finish.
“I made a heavy duty truck bumper,” said Brittany Trevino, a Mercedes ISD senior. “It took me about three months to finish.”
She said it was her first major project and it was hard but fun at the same time to do.
“It took a lot of knowledge of wielding to do this because you had to know how to make the cuts in order to bend the metal,” Trevino said. “I’m making it for a friend and he’s going to buy it off of me.”
She said the bumper will sell for $800 and she spent $500 for materials. She worked on the project for about three hours a day.
Each student’s project will compete against similar projects in their divisions at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and in the end the best project overall between the wood and the metal will be crowned grand champion.
Some of the items will be up for sale and others will be sold at auction.
“The quality of the work, the skill, and effort that is put into these projects have increased,” said Able Rodriguez, PSJA Memorial Agriculture teacher. “The kids are taking these projects to the next level and it’s wonderful to see kids working with their hands doing the basic stuff our parents used to do.”
He said not all these kids can afford to have livestock projects so for them an Ag Mechanics project is a way they can still participate in the livestock show.
“This is my 30th year teaching Ag,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he and Sam Lewis dominated the Ag Mechanics show through the 80s and 90s while teaching at Santa Rosa High.
One of his former students is now the Mercedes ISD Ag teacher.
He said over the years Roma and Rio Hondo have always been very competitive in the Ag Mechanic show.
Brownsville Lopez FFA student Oscar Chapa took a week to make a hog trap that he plans on taking out for hunting.
His plan is to hide the trap in the brush and put some bait in the cage so hogs can rush in with no way out.
“I like hunting with my parents during the summer when we have time,” Chapa said.