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Tavares senior wins 1st place in tractor operations, headed to state competition

Congratulations to Austin McGrath, a senior at Tavares High School, who recently won first place in the Austin McGrath FFA District Tractor Operations Contest at the Marion Technical Institute. He will be moving on to the state level in April.


The Safe Tractor Operation and Maintenance Career Development Event contains three parts.

  • A written safety test that students must pass to drive in the competition,
  • A series of oral questions that one of the three judges administers on tractor safety, operations, maintenance, and related jobs, and
  • A drive through a laid out, measured course hooked to a 1-axle trailer forward and backward in a maximum of 3 1/2 minutes with as few safety and driving violations as possible. Safety violations include but are not limited to skidding, turning too sharply, reaching unsafe speed, improperly dismounting, failing to wear safety belt, etc. Driving violations include scraping or overturning markers, killing the engine, rough clutch engagement, out of bounds, pull ups to improve position while backing, etc.


“Tractor operations is part of our curriculum,” said Jessica Holland, Agriscience teacher at Tavares High School. “Each student must demonstrate basic driving skills and maintenance. What was required of Austin for the contest, however, was much more advanced than what typical students are required to learn in Agritechnology class. Some of it can be attributed to Austin's background. He has worked on engines, equipment, and trailers alongside his father and grandfather for years. We took those already present skills and honed them while practicing for this contest over the last four years.”