Jensen Barwick doesn’t rest on his laurels. Instead, he sits on his John Deere and practices his tractor driving skills.
That’s the way of a winner.
Jensen, a 17-year-old senior at South Lenoir High School, will represent the region in the state tractor driving championship at the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh on Jan. 31. He won the right to compete by finishing first among a dozen young drivers in the senior division at the Tobacco Federation Tractor Driving Competition at the Wayne County Fair in October.
That competition tested the skills of drivers as they raced the clock on a course that featured tight turns and difficult maneuvers, like backing into an enclosed space.
Jensen said he expects more of the same at the state contest. “It will be the same kind of course, just more competition. I’m going to have to practice a lot.”
To prepare, he and his dad have set up an obstacle course on their farm and he runs it about three times a week, he said.
He could also be spurred on to excellence by the quality of the competition among fellow LCPS students. Carson Rogers, a student at North Lenoir High School, finished third at the Tobacco Federation event and Caleb Grady of South Lenoir came in fourth.
At the Lenoir County Fair, South Lenoir’s Connor Lynch finished first and Caleb came in second. South Lenoir took four of the top five positions.
It was not Jensen’s best outing. “I didn’t have a good day,” he said. “Some days you just drive better than others, I guess.”
Hence, the practice.
But time spent on the farm, behind the wheel of a tractor, isn’t exactly drudgery to a young man who’s been an active FFA member since middle school and plans on a career in agriculture.
“I would love to end up at North Carolina State at some point in time, and I want to go back on the farm after I go to college,” he said. “It’s just what I grew up doing. I have a great love for the industry.”