If you happened to be driving down Interstate-5 yesterday and passed the Douglas Fairgrounds, you may have caught a glimpse of dozens of tractors being operated by FFA members competing in The Tractor Safety Certification and Tractor Operator Career Development Event (CDE).

Sutherlin FFA’s Advanced team placed second in the competition, while their Beginning Team placed first.

The Tractor Safety Certification enables students to learn how to properly drive a tractor and gives them an opportunity to earn their tractor driving license. For the Tractor Operator CDE, students take a test about rules, basic safety features and reading the tractor’s instruments.

Members are also tasked with moving the tractor between cones, backing up and other maneuvers. These events were able to happen thanks to volunteers, Umpqua Valley Tractor and Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex & Speedway.

Ashley Palm, a Sutherlin freshman, commented “It was a really great experience! I am thankful that I got to have the chance to face the challenges of maneuvering the tractors through all of the obstacles. Getting to be a part of this competition was very nerve racking and exciting!”

Owen Brach, a Sutherlin junior who placed fifth in the competition, stated “I learned how to work with others more than anything. It is an individual contest since you’re driving by yourself but safety is obviously huge especially in a barn with five tractors going full of kids. Just how to operate the tractor and heavy equipment while still making sure everyone is safe is a skill I learned and got better at.

I like the variety in the different courses and maneuvers that really made it enjoyable with multiple different challenges.”

Lainey Sherman is the FFA reporter for Sutherlin High School.

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