Revamped Young Farmers program provides teaching opportunity
With all of the manufacturer's stickers still intact, students in the diesel technology program at Northeastern Junior College knew they were getting a brand-new teaching tool in the shop recently. What's unique about this is that students in this program don't often get to see or interact with new equipment--they are usually working on something older that needs fixed. This new teaching tool is a 2013 Case IH 315 Magnun tractor, delivered to the NJC diesel technology shop by Wickham Tractor Company and the national Case IH company. Students will have the unit in the shop until mid-October and during this time, they will go through the tractor's operating systems and prepare it to go into the field for fall work. The delivery of this tractor marks the beginning of a new program between Case IH, NJC and the Colorado Young Farmers.
Since 1993 the Colorado Young Farmers have raised money for an annual scholarship fund through the assistance of Case IH by auctioning off blocks of use of a new tractor at their state institute. For a number of years, various Case IH dealers across the state took turns providing the new tractor. However, as field technology has advanced and tractor prices have climbed, it has been more and more difficult for many dealers to commit the availability of a new unit in the heat of the season. There was concern that the program might go by the wayside.
Then up stepped Randy Pauletto, territory sales manager for Case IH, who decided to help champion the program. He has worked with the CYF program for several years and wanted badly to help keep the program going and if possible, expand it. He joined with Howard Wickham of Wickham Tractor Company in Fort Morgan and Sterling and the two were able to put the pieces together. Wickham, who understands the value of the program, joined Pauletto to initiate conversation with the national Case IH company about the possibility of expanding the program to include more of an education component. In turn, Wickham Tractor Company would be able to assure the Colorado Young Farmers organization that a new tractor would be available each fall and again each spring for this scholarship program.
Beginning this year, the new tractors will be delivered to the NJC diesel technology program via Wickham, one in the fall and another one in the spring, where they will be used as teaching tools. Students will then be responsible for prepping the unit to go to the field to be used by those producers who have purchased the blocks of time during the scholarship auction fundraiser. This unit will go to the Alan Gerk farm for farm tillage work once it leaves the NJC shop. It will then be taken to Johnston Family Farms in Fort Morgan and to Brandon Johnston's operation in Erie. It will be brought back to the NJC teaching facility after 150 hours of use and students will have an opportunity to go through it and see how the hours have impacted the condition of the systems. The process will be repeated in the spring with another new tractor.
Students in the diesel program will spend three weeks gaining useful knowledge and experience from a modern farm tractor as they learn how the latest technology has advanced the service life of farm tractors and how the Computerized Electronic System Technology can be used to help schedule maintenance. The CEST has the ability to log diagnostics right down to the date and time that a malfunction might occur. Under the direction of instructor Harv Rober, students will spend time learning about the hydraulic systems, electrical systems, heavy duty powertrains and diesel fuel systems.
Pauletto and Wickham admit that with this new arrangement and the redesigning of a program, the curriculum will be created over time. "We are going to make this teaching tool sustainable year after year as part of this program," Wickham said. During the presentation to the students, one student raised his hand and asked if they would be able to see the tractor after it has had some hours of use on it. "That's the exact kind of feedback we want from the students," Pauletto noted, telling the students that they will see the unit back in the shop after 150 hours of use and they will have it for two weeks before it goes back to the dealership to be sold.
The Colorado Young Farmers award five scholarships each year to college students who are freshmen through seniors. The freshman and sophomore scholarships are open to any student studying agriculture, including diesel technology. The junior and senior awards are reserved for students completing agriculture education degrees.
Bryson Miller of Brush, Colo., state president for the Colorado Young Farmers, was on hand for the presentation of the tractor. Miller said he was excited about this new arrangement and what it means for all those involved. "Education is the forefront of all that's involved here," he said. "The Colorado Young Farmers is education based and by changing this program the way we have, we're able to include an even larger education component and that is exciting, not to mention how valuable the scholarships are to the students."
Pauletto, assisted by Andrew Zink, manager of field service operations for Case IH, demonstrated for the students how the computer electronic service tool in the tractor is used for troubleshooting on the engine, transmission and hydraulic system. Zink also reviewed all of the systems available on the new Magnum 315.