April 24, 2014
You might say that the Northeastern Junior College Young Farmer Chapter has a lot of pull. And, it is that pull that lifted them to the top of the state competition, allowing them to be selected as the 2014 recipient of the Colorado Young Farmers Educational Association’s Outstanding Community Service Award.
While running a Kid’s Pedal Pull may not sound like a big deal to some, for a whole slew of children across Colorado, it’s a big deal. Especially if you are a child who has earned your way into the state-wide competition. For a number of years now, it has been the NJC Young Farmer Chapter that has operated the state contest. What makes it especially fun is that this group hosts a number of the local pedal pull contests in northeastern Colorado, so they are usually well acquainted with the families of the children when they arrive for the state pull.
The NJC Young Farmers have held a sanctioned kids’ pedal tractor pull in Sterling during the Logan County Fair since 1997. Over the years they also began sponsoring a sanctioned pull at the Crook Fair, the Fleming Fall Festival and the Sedgwick County Fair in Julesburg. Because there is a national pedal pull competition held in Mitchell, South Dakota each year, it seemed only appropriate for Colorado to develop a state contest so top winners can be chosen to go to the nationals. The NJC Young Farmers began, in 2007, also running the state contest in conjunction with the annual Old Threshers event in Yuma. All children, ages 4 to 12 who have finished in the top three of their age and gender group at one of the sanctioned pulls across the state, can come to Yuma and compete for a Colorado title.
In some instances, the children entering these competitions are from the city, perhaps visiting a rural relative during the fair. This kids pedal pull may indirectly expose these city dwellers to agriculture while they compete. When these same families show up for Old Thresher’s Day, they are able to enjoy the event free and take in a number of other ag-related activities. Indirectly, this can hugely positively impact their thoughts on agriculture.
In 2013, NJC Young Farmers helped coordinate 181 “hooks” at the local level, meaning that this many times children crawled up on a pedal tractor hooked to the appropriate weight for their age brackets, and mustered up the courage to, using only their own personal strength, pull it across a designated distance in the fastest time possible.
The NJC Young Farmers do not charge the children anything to compete and even go so far as to pay the state sanction fees for Colorado so our state winners may compete at the national contest if they choose to make the trip to Mitchell.
You could say that this group is deeply engrained in tractor pulls, be it a pedal pull or a life size, cover your ears when the engines roar pull. Each year the Chapter also hosts a National Truck and Tractor Pullers Assocation (NTTPA) sanctioned hot rod semi, pickup, and tractor pull at the Logan County Fairgrounds on Father’s Day weekend. The Young Farmers provide a free barbeque for the pullers and their families prior to the racing. As a result, Sterling has become a popular destination for these competitors. This event brings some good early summer entertainment to northeastern Colorado as well. Any proceeds from the event go back into the organization to fund other projects and community service activities.
Once again, the NJC Young Farmers helped with the Hope Gala fundraiser for Northeastern Junior College which was held at Northeastern 18 Golf Course. It was the group’s fourth year to assist with this evening that once again drew right at 500 guests for dining, entertainment and an auction to raise money for the Hope Scholarship program. These scholarships help qualifying students from northeastern Colorado pay for their college education.
Almost everywhere you go in Sterling you run into Young Farmers offering assistance and help. Members joined with the Logan County Cooperating Ministries food bank to help deliver holiday baskets. The farmers always volunteer to literally go the extra mile and take the addresses that are the furthest from town, sometimes more than 100 miles round trip. “Many of us are already very familiar with all the country roads, so it makes sense for us to make these deliveries,” explains Dave Lieber, Chapter president. Each Young Farmer delivers to at least four families each year.
Last but not least, the NJC Chapter sponsors the senior beef showmanship plaque at the Logan County Fair each year, hosts an annual Crook Ladies Night, since many of their members are from that area. On this night, the men wear the aprons and do the waiting on the ladies. Money raised at this event through a reverse raffle is also donated to Logan County high schools where members are involved, to help pay for after-prom activities.
Jerry Michel, advisor of the NJC Chapter, says that much of what the group does is only made possible through the help of the 45 local businesses who are dedicated sponsors. To thank this group, each year the Chapter does a Cajun boil specifically for them.