Portland High School students drive tractors to school

Portland High School Tractors

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some members of Portland High School’s Future Farmers of America took alternate transportation, their tractors, to school on Friday.

The tradition of driving your tractor to school dates back to 1978 and coincides with FFA Week that is held in schools each year.

Portland High School Tractors
Students at Portland High School drove their tractors to school Friday.

“We still have agriculture,” said Agriculture teacher Terry Shartzer. “We still have to feed people and clothe people. This is our way to say, ‘Don’t forget about us.'”

Students boarded their tractors downtown and drove just over a mile to school and were escorted by Sumner County deputies.

Many of the student participants grew up and still live on farms.

A number of beef, dairy, grain and tobacco farms dot northern Sumner County.

Stephen McNeil is the school’s FFA president and told News 2 the ‘Tractor-Cade’ is an event all students look forward to, but it does make a statement to other students.

“When we drive into the school with these tractors, I think it sends a great message for these kids that, ‘Hey, we’re making a difference in the community’,” McNeil explained.

John Deere also brought two tractors to the school for students who don’t have one.

Portland High School Tractors
Many of the student participants grew up on or live on farms.

John Doyle, who represents John Deere said, farmers should be appreciated and are needed as much now as in the past.

“The population is going to double by 2050,” he said. “We’re going to need to double our agriculture output, so we need a lot of people, and the people of the FFA to carry on the torch so that we can make sure we’re continuing to grow the necessary food stocks to feed the world,” Doyle said.

Shartzer told News 2 Friday’s ‘Tractor-Cade’ was a special event since it will be his last before retirement later this year.

“Everybody has a niche. Everybody has a skill set that’s beneficial and a way for them to make a living,” Shartzer said.

He continued, “I want every one of them to become a useful, tax paying citizen, and with all of our agriculture instruction and leadership programs, I think we’ve got them headed in the right direction. I’m real proud of them.”

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