MATTOON — Ted Jansen said harvest time is one of his favorite times of the year.
That’s why he chose Lake Land College’s John Deere Tech program, which put him on the path to a hands-on career in the farming industry.
“I’ve always wanted to get behind the mechanics of things and come harvest time it interested me to know what all the guys have to do to get ready,” said Jansen, 20, of Sigel.
A 2014 graduate of Teutopolis High School, Jansen said he enjoys coming to work at the Sloan Implement dealership in Effingham, and doing what interests him. His typical day involves working on large combines and tractors.
He graduated from Lake Land in May and has been on this career path for short three months. It all starts with a dealership sponsoring a student and paying the student while they learn. Jansen was sponsored by Alliance Tractor in Mattoon. Typically, the same dealership keeps the student on as an employee upon successful completion of the program.
Allen Drake of Mattoon, the John Deere Tech instructor at Lake Land College in Mattoon, said the program began there in the fall of 1993. The focus of the program is to provide service technicians to area dealerships.
“The program was started to help with the shortage of service technicians at dealerships,” Drake said. “This is an excellent career path for anyone who enjoys working with their hands and enjoys always learning about something new.”
Lake Land College has averaged 18 students per year for the past 21 years, Drake said, who has been a John Deere instructor for the past 20 years, but a teacher at LLC for 24 years.
“We have graduates who are working in service at John Deere dealers to managing John Deere dealerships,” Drake said.
Jansen said his brother piqued his interest in John Deere after he bought a John Deere Model B.
“Honestly, coming in to work every day and having something to do that interests me is the best part of my job,” he said.
He might spend his day performing general maintenance on John Deere equipment, such as changing oil, changing belts, repairing or changing tires, and changing bearings on large combines and tractors.
Sloan Service Manager Dale Kreke said his dealership has sponsored four of the active technicians they have now. But, over the years, Sloan has sponsored several other techs, as well.
“Through an interview process we normally use to determine if the student is one we want to sponsor and hire here,” said Kreke. “They start the interviewing process before they ever start the program.”
Kreke said he is already getting calls for next fall’s program.
“The students try to get ahead of the game,” said Kreke. “A student has to have the backing of a dealership to get into the program. They get paid while they are going to school.”
Jansen said there are two times each year students leave the classroom and get out into the field to work. There is a six-week span during harvest and again during spring planting, when they are learning on the job, in what is called Supervised Occupational Experiences, or SOE.
The John Deere Tech program advances the skill level of new service technicians, in today’s fast paced field of ag mechanization, according to its website. To be considered for this program the student must hold a high school diploma or equivalent; pass college assessment tests; obtain and maintain sponsorship with a qualifying John Deere dealership.
Students are responsible for paying for tuition, fees and tools, but the college offers scholarships, according to its website
Dawn Schabbing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151, ext. 138.