Clinic helps get mowers running
By RANDY GONZALES
Assuming there's still grass to mow this summer, what with persistent dry conditions and water restrictions, some local residents got their lawn mowers ready for the job Saturday -- just in case.
They didn't have to do it themselves. Instead, they brought their mowers to Davis Hall on the Fort Hays State University campus for the agribusiness club's third annual lawn mower workshop.
On Saturday morning, approximately a dozen club members got lawn mowers fixed up and ready to go after a long winter's nap. Club members changed the oil and spark plugs, checked the oil filter and replaced it if needed, sharpened the blade, cleaned the mower -- including the underside -- and started it to make sure it worked.
Club members serviced approximately 20 mowers Saturday, fewer than normal. That was by design, said co-adviser Craig Smith, assistant professor of agricultural business at the school.
"We didn't advertise as much as in the past, just because we have a smaller group" of club members, Smith said. "Enough to keep us busy."
The club charged $40 to service each mower.
"For the club, it's a money-making deal," said co-adviser Mick Glaze, an instructor in agricultural business at FHSU. "What we have done for the last eight years is take (students) on an agribusiness tour. That's the purpose of it, to make money for an agribusiness trip."
They also provide a needed service, said Joe Martin, Hays, who brought his green Lawnboy in for servicing.
"I usually have it serviced, but I haven't had it done for a couple years," Martin said.
Martin's wife heard about the club's clinic on the radio, so he brought his mower in for the first time.
"There's not a lot of people that work on mowers anymore," Martin said. "You get a chance, you should take advantage of it."
In addition to being a fundraiser, the project helps the community, Smith said.
"We think it's a good service in the community," he said. "Lot of people with mowers don't get them serviced as regularly as they should, because they don't want to do it, either. Don't want to do it, or don't know how to do it.
"We saw it as a good service opportunity, works out good. Got a bunch of farm kids who don't mind getting a little dirty and enjoy the work. Good social time, as well, for the group."
Club president Amelia Nickelson, a senior from Hill City, said going on the agribusiness tours is important.
"We get to tour a lot of agribusinesses throughout the United States," she said. "When we go on those tours, there's a lot of networking. We have a foot in the door."
Nickelson also said she has learned a lot more about mowers in the last three years.
"I enjoy it, getting to learn more about lawn mowers, so I don't have to call the service man," she said with a laugh. "I'll actually know how to fix it."
As for Martin, his mower is ready to go. He's ready to cut his grass -- if it rains. No excuses.
"Probably not, unless it doesn't grow," he said.