Restoration Education Program looking for more mentors in upcoming project year

By Camille DeVaul and Christianna Marks

PASO ROBLES — Templeton High School took home all three winning spots in this year’s JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Education Program Competition at the California Mid-State Fair. Winners were announced during the Cattlemen and Farmer’s Day dinner on Thursday, July 20. This year marks the 23rd year of the program.

Eight students participated in the program. Winners and contestants were:

  • Elijah Schmidt: 1st Place, 1929 McCormick Deering T-20, Templeton High School, Freshman
  • Braden Wheeler: 2nd Place, 1937 McCormick Deering 1020, Templeton High School, Freshman
  • Owen Smith: 3rd Place, 1942 Ford 2n, Templeton High School, Sophomore
  • Ulises Garcia: 1949 Farmall H, Paso Robles High School, Junior
  • Jake Camacho: John Deere B, Nipomo High School, Senior
  • Aiden Garrett: 1950 Farmall Cub, Atascadero High School, Senior
  • Diego Pesquera: 1952 Ford 9N Jubilee, Mission College Prep, Junior
  • Ford 851-D SN 4632 Team at Santa Maria High School, consisting of:
    • Cruz: Senior
    • Evan: Senior
    • Jaime: Senior
    • Caleb: Senior
    • Adrian: Junior
    • Instructor: Eduardo

This year’s returning judges were: Faron Bento, Quentin Thompson, and Mark Zohns.

Since 2002, JB Dewar, Chevron Delo, the Alex Madonna family, and other local businesses have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships. Students typically begin restoring their tractors in the fall and must have them complete the following July, along with their record books and presentations. From start to finish, students log in about 400 hours of work on their tractors. Winners of the program receive award money sponsored by JB Dewar Inc. First place receives $4,000, second gets $3,000, and third place is awarded $2,000. 

President of JB Dewar, Inc. Ken Dewar told Paso Robles Press why the program is vital for students: “There’s a lot of young men and women who don’t know what they want to do. We need the trades. We need people who can work on things. Not every kid is designed to go to a four-year school. We are trying to teach them three basic skills: record-keeping, public speaking, and mechanics.”

All three placing tractors were Templeton High School students. First-place winner Elijah Schmidt put about 700 hours into his tractor. He restored a similar tractor in years past and felt comfortable with restoring a similar model.

Schmidt told PRP what the project taught him: “I learned how to manage my time properly because at the beginning of the restoration, I had a bunch of activities going on and towards the end of the year I had very little time left to deal with.”

Second-place winner Braden Wheeler put over 700 hours into his 1929 tractor. 

The biggest lesson for him was, “Patience. I had to be patient with everyone to get this tractor done.” Though he says it felt amazing to place alongside his peers.

Third place went to Owen Smith with his 1942 Ford 2n that took about 750 hours to restore. His original plan was to restore this simpler model while he prepares to restore a more complicated one for next year’s program.

“It was a free tractor that turned out to be not so free,” said Smith. “It was donated by Bob Simonin and I’m very grateful for him donating it to me and all the people who helped me along the way. It turned out great.”

Smith also learned patience and how to plan ahead throughout the project. Placing in the top three led him feeling relief and disbelief all at the same time. 

Dewar encourages students to join the program. There will be an information meeting in September for anyone interested or wanting to learn more about the JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Education Program. The program is especially looking for mentors to help the students throughout the program.

“The hardest thing we had this year was finding mentors,” explained Dewar. “People who could help us, help the students work on their tractors when it got past their skill levels.”

This year’s tractors can be found on display throughout the rest of the California Mid-State Fair. If you are interested in participating or volunteering to be a mentor for the JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Education Program, you can find more information at