What do you give to one of the world’s leading producers of tractors? When the National FFA Organization considered this question, it narrowed the list down to one item: a tractor!
Mark Poeschl, CEO of National FFA, says the organization wanted to celebrate 75 years of partnership between John Deere and FFA. While the anniversary technically happens in 2020, the FFA decided to give Deere the gift early. After all, John Deere celebrated 100 years of building tractors for farmers in 2018.
It didn’t take National FFA long to decide who could help prepare a tractor worthy of presenting to such a prestigious tractor maker. Delphi FFA, Delphi, Ind., has earned a solid reputation for restoring older tractors. Doug Walker, the Delphi FFA advisor and ag instructor, says the chapter has restored 25 tractors in its shop over the past six years, with more in progress.
Search and restore
The only stipulations from National FFA were that the tractor had to be a John Deere, of course, and it must be a 1945 model. A popular model from the period was the John Deere B. By then, the B was styled with the touches of world-renowned industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss.
Walker found someone who agreed to find a tractor. Dan Kirkoff not only found it, but also donated it — along with the missionary organization goingglobal.org and Schrader Auction Co., Columbia City, Ind.
READY TO RESTORE: Here is how the John Deere B looked last June, waiting to be restored in the Delphi High School ag shop. The tractor was eventually presented to John Deere at the National FFA Convention.
“It was already in reasonably good shape with straight sheet metal,” Walker says. “That makes it easier to paint and restore. We didn’t have much time to work with.”
Walker tracked the history of this John Deere B. It was built on July 23, 1945, and shipped through John Deere’s Minnesota branch house. The tractor was delivered to a dealer and then a farmer in Wisconsin.
Delphi FFA added a few touches of its own, including a chrome straight pipe and FFA decals. An umbrella was also added. Otherwise it was restored to original condition, Walker says.
SPIT AND POLISHED! Extra hardener in the paint plus waxing and polishing helped this John Deere B tractor shine in the lights of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Those who supported the project includes Delphi FFA, Delphi Community School Corp., Dan Kirkoff and goingglobal.org, Schrader Auction, Tri Green Tractor, Firestone Ag Tires, Wilbur “Pop” Jones Family, Pomp’s Tire in Monticello, Ind., Adam Humbarger, Evan Lehr and New Paris Tractor Parts’ Rich Brown.
Sam Allen, chairman and CEO of Deere and Co., accepted the tractor on behalf of John Deere at the National FFA Convention and addressed the attendees. “We are proud to be the longest-running corporate sponsor of the National FFA Organization and look forward to many more years working together to prepare our country’s young people to feed a growing population,” he said.