OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A building away from the livestock barns at the Oklahoma Youth Expo, and the accompanying farm animal noises, these Oklahoma Youth Expo competitors brought 'steel yard' to judge instead of stock yard.
Youth Expo Director Tyler Norvelle noted the extra quiet, but still marveled at the talent produced by 4-H and FFA kids competing in the very first Ag Mechanics competition here.
"These students have been working all year," he says. "We've got 63 different items in the contest with about 50 different schools represented."
Eight years ago, Grant Little was a frustrated math teacher in Texas.
He moved to Oklahoma to be an Ag teacher at Carl Albert High School and brought with him an idea of a mechanical component to the expo that had worked out pretty well across the Red River.
Little says, "I approached the OYE to see if they would host an Ag Mechanics competition."
He and his students, including Junior Cole McNeely, built their own welding trailer as an entry in the trailer category.
Showing off one of the features on the trailer, Mcneely points out, "These bottles can't really sit flat like the oxygen can, so we had to find a way to put it at an angle."
There are six different categories to start, including Machinery, Livestock Equipment and Outdoor Decoration.
Gavin Sager built this big fire pit out of some propane tanks lying around the shop at Balko High.
"My Ag teacher was kind of on the fence about it," Sager admits. "He was like, 'That thing is going to be huge.' I was like, 'It's going to be alright'."
Jacy Curtis of Ninekah took on the puzzle challenge of piecing together a T-rex with a plasma cutter and welding tools.
"I put it together and then welded it piece by piece," she says.
From Caleb Mannen's cool, see-through table to Nick Biershank's work table, some 50 kids spent months raising their projects from raw metal to living objects.
The best here will sell at auction in April just like the winners in other Youth Expo divisions.
The state's best are now displayed in a new category, ready to head out into the world.
The 2020 Oklahoma Youth Expo runs from March 11 to March 20 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.
The winners of the inaugural Ag Mechanics categories will be announced Thursday, March 12.
For more information on the Expo go to https://okyouthexpo.com/