For some, an old water trough is just an old trough.
But for ag mechanics students Reagan and Connor Meinardus, an old water trough can be turned into something else, giving a second life to worn out tanks.
Twins Reagan and Connor, both 18 and seniors at Victoria West High School, are preparing for their second time showing animals in the Victoria Livestock Show, but might also convert an old water trough into a custom bench to show at the Victoria Livestock Show.
The twins, sons of West FFA advisor Scott Meinardus, have been involved in livestock shows throughout the state from a young age thanks to their dad’s job. And while they learn a lot from raising heifers, pigs, and commercial heifers, ag mechanics offers the two something a little different that they can’t get from working with live animals.
"With it being a hands-on experience, you get to learn how to measure, how to cut, how to figure how to turn something that somebody would normally look at as useless into something that’s practical and that you can know is yours,” Reagan said.
Although both raising animals and building an ag mechanics project require problem-solving, working ag mechanics allows them to use skills they don’t usually use with livestock, Connor said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made hands-on work in West’s ag mechanics classes more challenging, Meinardus said. Unlike raising animals, which many FFA or 4-H students do at their homes, almost all ag mechanic work has to be done at West’s shop, making it harder for classes to find the time to safely do the work.
“We may not have any entries this year unfortunately,” Meinardus said of West ag mechanics students competing in the livestock show said. “This year is a non-traditional year.”
Although there are likely to be fewer ag mechanics students showcasing projects at this year's livestock show, Meinardus said the students in his class are still learning valuable lessons.
“The whole process of ag mechanics is turning nothing into something, like 15 pieces of wood, and we’re going to do all these cuts and dimensions with it, and put it together, and this is the end product,” Meinardus said. "So you take the wood from Home Depot, and then you have a picnic table.”