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Students help get your mower running

4/1/2012

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Lawnmowers, some still caked with grass clippings, and others, shined and ready to mow, were in the spotlight Saturday morning as Fort Hays University Students hosted their first Lawn Mower Clinic and Safety Fair.

By 10 a.m., more than 40 mowers had been turned over to the leadership studies team and members of FHSU's Agri-Business Club for maintenance services, including changing oil and spark plugs, sharpening blades and cleaning or replacing air filters.

Jennifer Lewallen, leadership class member, gave a tour of the industrial technology shop Saturday morning, pointing out the various stations of maintenance set up for the clinic. As a member of the "Green Team," comprised of other members Elizabeth Koch, Betsy Koons, Jennifer McGonegal and Zach Meyer, Lewallen said public response to their project had been "awesome."

"We were a little on the nervous side, with as many mowers as we had, wondering how it would all come together," she said. "We also got excited to see that all the hard work pays off."

Her sentiments were reflected by fellow team member, Koch, who also serves as Agri-Business Club president.

"It's going very smoothly," Koch said as she looked around the shop. "I'm very grateful to the guys in there that are working so hard. We were planning on 20 mowers, and last night, they just kept coming in."

The process of having two club members working on each mower took about 15 minutes from start to finish. Approximately 12 club members pitched in to perform mower maintenance for the Saturday event.

"It's pretty efficient," said Craig Smith, Agri-Business Club sponsor. "We've got a lot of old farm boys here ... shade tree mechanics, so we get it done pretty quick."

Although spring appeared to hit a little sooner than Smith had anticipated, the timing of the event still seemed to work out well, providing a learning opportunity for students on several levels, from marketing to economics.

"Hopefully the customers are satisfied, and we're taking our time, checking things over making sure we're doing a good job," he said. "Hopefully, we can make it a tradition ... an annual event."

Funds from the clinic will go toward an Agri-Business Club trip scheduled this month, during which club members will tour agriculture-related businesses in an attempt to identify career avenues.

In conjunction with the clinic, speakers offered insight on several safety-related topics throughout the morning.

Robert Howell, associate professor of technology studies, slated to talk about mower safety, had direct knowledge of the cost of taking mower safety issues for granted.

Howell has experienced mowing accidents involving his toes and his eyes, and said parents should make safety a priority for their children who assist with outdoor projects.

"When you mow, you need safety glasses, because things fly in your face," he said. "I can tell by experience."

Other speakers included Guy Riedel, Kevin Marks, Jared Boone, Tom Baumrucker and Virgil Howe.