She was already looking for ideas for a chapter T-shirt when Wabasso High School FFA President Hillary Kletscher started talking to another member who said he could just as well drive his tractor to school.
That started the wheels turning, Kletscher said, which led to successful results.
The Wabasso High School FFA chapter received top honors in the 2010-2011 National FFA T-shirt Design contest when its design with the slogan "Who needs a licenseWhen you can drive a tractor!" was among the six designs selected for production and sales nationwide.
Kletscher said she got the idea for the T-shirt after hearing fellow classmate and FFA member Adam Schroepfer say that he didn't need a driver's license and could just drive a tractor to school. At first, she just laughed but then realized that even for her chapter or for her high school, most of the students really could drive a tractor to school or to friends' houses if they wanted.
"I made sketches of three different ideas I had come up with and passed it around to the classmates to vote on the one they liked best," Kletscher said. "It was some trial and error to get the T-shirt design in the format it is in now."
Kletscher designed the T-shirt in May 2009, but didn't submit the design until this past February.
"We ordered our chapter T-shirts off the design and they went over so well that I thought 'why not give this a shot?'" Kletscher said. "I asked the rest of the officer team if they thought it was a good idea and they were all for it."
Wabasso High School FFA adviser Bill Klaers said the shirt was a great idea and creative.
"We've designed clever shirts in the past based on student ideas, but I thought this was by far the best one," Klaers said. "Knowing Adam Schroepfer, it is not surprising that he made the statement about driving a tractor instead of a car. He's a true farm boy and would rather farm than do just about anything else."
The Wabasso FFA chapter had never entered the contest before, Klaers and Kletscher said.
"I was really excited when the Shop FFA people called to say we were in the top 12 and that the top six vote getters would be in the catalog next year," Klaers said.
Word spread fast. When the Wabasso design became one of the 12 finalists, Kletscher went into the computer classes and had teachers tell their students to vote. She also asked for the announcement to be put on the school Web site and in the daily announcements.
"I sent out e-mails to my family members, I messaged almost 200 people on Facebook, I set my Facebook status asking my friends to vote for our T-shirt, Mr. Klaers sent e-mails to all the staff at Wabasso, and other FFA members had their parents vote and some of them sent an e-mail around to their places of employment. As a chapter, we tried our hardest to make sure every computer in the school was voted on." Only one vote was allowed per computer IP address and the voting period was March 11-17.
Kletscher was hopeful the design would make it to the top six and thought it had a great shot.
"When our T-shirt was chosen, I jumped up and down like crazy with our chapter's director Della Stage," Kletscher said. "Mr. Klaers found me between classes and I literally couldn't stop smiling."
Kletscher said the design took second overall with 1,716 votes behind a design that received 1,934 votes.
"We were also about 300 votes ahead of the T-shirt behind us," Kletscher said.
Klaers said he thinks the design appeals to the inner farm kid in all FFA members, whether they are from the farm or not.
"It speaks to FFA's roots in production agriculture and the thrill of driving a huge machine across the prairie or down county roads," Klaers said.