Old tractor provides new opportunity

Photo by Isana Pogosov

Shea Anthony & Madison O’Brien, staff reporters

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Driving down Glenview Road, you find yourself stuck behind a line of slow-moving cars. Wondering what the hold up is all about, you peek your head out the window. To your surprise, it’s not your everyday five o’clock traffic—it’s a teenage boy sitting behind the wheel of a 1947 grass-green tractor making his way toward Wagner farm.

Junior Cody Slivka is likely to be the reason for the unusual holdup. He has had a passion for farming ever since he can remember.

Cody has been helping out at his grandfather’s farm his entire life by contributing to the harvest and other farm chores, according to Nancy Slivka, Cody’s mother.

Cody has been driving a variety of tractors and other vehicles since he was seven years old, according to Nancy. At age ten, Cody discovered the 4H club at Wagner Farm and decided to get involved.

According to their website, 4H was one of the first American organizations that helped shape the lives of young people by teaching them leadership skills.

“Ever since [participating in] 4H club and working at Wagner, I’ve been spending a lot of my time [at Wagner Farm],” Cody said.

Around two years ago, Cody became a part of Wagner Farm’s staff, helping out with everything from milking the cows to working the front desk.

Since joining Wagner Farm’s team, he has become a role model and leader for many of the other staff members, according to sophomore Maureen Andersen.

“He’s the person to go to if you need help with anything,” Andersen said.

About a month ago, Cody took on the responsibility of refurbishing a 1947 tractor he bought from former GBS teacher Allan Ruter, according to Nancy. He plans on doing mostly cosmetic and body work.

According to Cody, the tractor cost $1,600 out of his own pocket.

Ruter described the transaction as “a song and dance,” or a real bargain for Cody and a great deal for him as well.

“It has taught me about responsibility and how to conserve my money for buying [tractor parts] and things like that,” Cody said.

Prior to selling the family tractor to Cody, Ruter sold it, bought it back, and sold it again to its current owner.

“Later that day, [after selling the tractor the first time] ‘seller’s remorse’ set in, and within five days I had located the tractor’s new owner and bought it back from him,” Ruter said.

According to Ruter, after the thrill of “impulse buying” wore off, he was contacted by Todd Price, the director of Wagner Farm. Price then relayed the tractor’s information to Cody through his connections with the 4H club.

The Slivka family is involved with Wagner Farm’s 4H club as well.

“We had discovered the local chapter of 4H, the Glenview Clovers, about six years ago,” Nancy said. “The club meets at Wagner Farm, thus the beginning of our relationship with the farm.”

According to Nancy, 4H club is truly a family event.

“When we first joined, [my husband and I] learned it wasn’t a type of club that you drop your kids off and leave,” Nancy said. “Both [Cody’s father, John Slivka, and I] are extremely active in the 4H club, even in leadership roles.”

Though farming takes a lot of hard work, according to Andersen, there is just as much fun involved.

“One Sunday night, when everyone was working and cleaning up and all the visitors at Wagner had left, all of the staff jumped on a tractor and Cody drove us all around the farm,” Andersen said.

According to Cody, 4H not only enables teenagers to work on the farm but can also get high school students scholarships to college. Cody hopes to stay with the 4H club until he is 18 because of the benefits it has to offer.

“I almost love everything about [farming], everything that goes into it, the amount of work that goes into […] I mean it’s not an easy job and that’s what I like,” Cody said.


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