RANDOLPH, Ohio — Alex Zavara III searched high and low for cast iron tractor seats for old Farmall, Allis Chalmers and John Deere Model Bs. He didn’t want them for a tractor restoration project, he wanted them for milk can stool seats.
His finished products were painted milk cans, emblazoned with the tractor maker emblems, adorned with the unpainted, vintage tractor seats.
When he was done, he entered one as an item in the Southeast FFA booth at the Portage County Randolph Fair.
The work planted the seed for an FFA milk can seat that has grown into a fundraiser that earned his chapter $1,700 over the past two years.
Zavara, a senior at Southeast High School, has been an active member of the FFA chapter there, even continuing older sister Amanda’s four-year streak as top salesman in the annual fruit sale.
He served as chapter sentinel, and has been the chapter’s vice president for two years. He raises pigs for 4-H projects, and soybeans as an FFA proficiency project. On top of that, he works at Deerfield Farms Service in its grain department.
When he decided to make a milk can seat for the chapter auction, he admits it was a last-minute plan, and he had to hustle to finish in the two weeks before the spring banquet. The finished painted can bore the names of the chapter officers and the FFA emblem on the front.
Buyers competed for the milk can, and it took a bid of $700 to win that first can.
Zavara’s second can, completed for the spring banquet and auction earlier this year, brought at bid of $1,000 from the Nething family, who asked Alex to add the name of their son, Benjamin, a Southeast graduate, to the front of the can, commemorating his American FFA degree achievement.
He hasn’t started on the 2013-14 can yet, but “I have the can, and I’ve got the seat.”
The money raised goes to extra chapter activities like transportation to or participation in the state convention, FFA camp, or chapter contests. Ben Campbell serves as the chapter’s adviser.
At this year’s fair, Zavara also displayed a set of Southeast FFA corn hole boards he made and painted this summer – also ready for next spring’s auction.
He feels like he’s gained so much from his FFA experience, this is a small way of giving back.
“Ag is what I want to go into,” he said, “There are multiple ways you can broaden your horizon with FFA and 4-H.”
After he graduates next spring, he hopes to attend Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, and then continue at OSU’s main campus to earn a degree in agronomy.
The Zavara FFA tradition is likely to continue, however, as sister Amber is waiting in the wings as an eighth-grader, and brother Andrew will start fourth grade this year.
By Susan Crowell