Iowa State Fair FFA Innovation Award Recipients

Luke Stortenbecker from the East Mills FFA Chapter won the FFA Innovation Award at the 2017 Iowa State Fair.  His winning project is a gas fired forge.  Special features of the forge include the burner design with adjustments for different flame types.  The housing of the forge can also be raised up for larger objects.  Luke has an anvil he wants to resurface in the forge and he will need the extra room.  He had an example of several layers of steel he welded together in the forge.  The process of welding multiple layers of steel together with different properties is known as Damascus steel and is used in fine knife blades.  The forge will also be used to build hammers for Luke’s sheet metal crafting.  Luke built a tool to build more tools!  During our interview with Luke, he spoke of many uses for his forge and the projects and tools he will create.  For more examples of his creativeness, see the photos of his small welding entry, a model car, and his visual arts entry, an owl, that can be seen in the 4-H building.  Luke plans to attend college to become an Ag Teacher!

For the first time, Praxidyn recognized a runner-up at this year’s Iowa State Fair.  Blake Frascht of Charles City FFA built an equipment mover attachment for a skid loader.  This equipment mover has many features which add convenience.  There is storage for various hitches, a hitch pin, and a bucket for a log chain.  It has a grab hook which would be very useful for moving random parts or a truck auger into place next to a grain bin.  The equipment mover has a hydraulic outlet connection which converts the skid loader type of connection to an ISO connector so the implement hydraulics can be operated.  A hydraulic hitch pin also connects to this hydraulic outlet to add additional convenience when moving implements with clevis or pintle hitches.  The hydraulic hitch pin has an angled mounting so the pin is visible from the driver’s seat.  Blake is also considering a version with an electric actuator for the hitch pin which would free up the hydraulics for the implement.  A skid loader is a very versatile machine and the proper attachments make all the difference.  All of the storage on the equipment mover keeps the log chain, hitches, and pins out of the cab.  The combined set of features makes this an outstanding attachment.

We would like to help launch these two young men.  If you are interested in the award winners’ products, please contact us and we will get you connected.  Email: or call 712-587-9720.

The 7th Annual Innovation Award was presented by Praxidyn.  Doug, Kathy, Brent and Luke Applegate judged the Ag Mechanics entries looking for innovation, engineering, and creativeness.  Students who identify a problem or need and provide a solution are of particular interest.  This year’s award winners also show interest in commercial production of their projects.  They had many good questions about starting a business.

We continue to support the FFA program at the Iowa State Fair through the Innovation Award and Scholarship. We also support the local 4-H and STEM programs. These programs have been very beneficial for our family and we greatly appreciate them.  Praxidyn has its roots in a seed tender that was built by Brent and Luke as an FFA project and exhibited at the 2005 Iowa State Fair.  Engineering degrees and engineering jobs followed, but the farm and entrepreneurship were still a calling. It seemed natural to take what we have done for many years to a new level and our new manufacturing company, Praxidyn, was born.  Mixmate is our first product with sales beginning this past April.  Mixmate is a portable chemical blending system with automation for recordkeeping and mixing.  An Android app controls the system and synchronizes data with office applications to streamline operations in the field and the office.  Mixmate has options for farms and commercial operators.

Be Blessed!  Doug Applegate