Sabrina Hounshell

Horseshoe Nail Cowboy- 2011 Region VI Ideas Unlimited Winner- Mark Anderson

Blog Post created by Sabrina Hounshell on Aug 31, 2012

Mark Anderson of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania is the agriculture teacher at Elizabethtown Area High School.  In a response to the Pennsylvania Department of Education deeming the Agricultural Mechanics career pathway a high priority occupation, Anderson developed the Horseshoe Nail Cowboy. 

The idea of the project is simple. Students weld horseshoe nails into a cowboy stick figure.  Other items such as wiring and washers can be used as well to weld accessories such as lassos and cowboy hats.  Through this project, students learn basic agricultural mechanics skills such as project layout and design, measuring, calculating a bill of materials, proper set up and shut down of an oxyacetylene welding rig, welding safety, hand-eye coordination, and proper torch handling.  Costing less than three dollars each to make, this project is mass produced to serve as centerpieces for the FFA banquet, showcasing to parents and community members the connection between classroom instruction and the FFA.


After students construct a cowboy to meet their specific design, they write a five line poem describing their cowboy.  Anderson works with the English teacher to ensure proper grammar, spelling and rhyming is used.  Anderson explains the project has been so successful that his program has even been asked to make Horseshoe Nail Cowboys to give to legislators at the Pennsylvania State FFA Leadership Conference breakfast and as door prizes for the Conestoga Country Club summer golf tournament. 

See the attached documents for details on how to implement Mark Anderson’s award-winning idea into your own program.