The Kansas Department of Agriculture and Carl’s Sales and Service, Inc. of Thayer hosted 21 high school agriculture students from four southeast Kansas schools at a hands-on dealership experience. The Nov. 6 event was coordinated in an effort to introduce students to careers within the agricultural mechanics pathway and farm equipment dealerships.
Schools attending the event included: Altoona-Midway High School, Cherryvale Middle-High School, Independence High School and Yates Center High School. Students heard remarks from Cindy Stiles and Randy Studebaker of Carl’s Sales and Service, Inc. and toured the facilities. They also learned about post-secondary education opportunities at Pratt Community College in a presentation from Ralph Williams, Instructor of Agriculture Power.
Upon completion of the tour and presentation, attendees rotated through four hands-on experience stations where they were asked to “find, fix, drive and sell.” Under the supervision of dealership employees, students used the computer software to locate various parts in the storefront. They disassembled and rebuilt hydraulic cylinders in the maintenance shop. All the students in attendance drove a Case IH Maxxum 150 Tractor. Lastly, students sold a Case IH 35A Tractor in a customer simulation by the teachers in attendance.
Landon Ewing, a senior from Independence High School, said, “Many people don’t realize the opportunities there are in agricultural mechanics and this day helped us to understand just how many jobs there are in both agriculture and mechanics. It was an awesome experience!”
The event was developed in response to the Agriculture Workforce Needs Assessment Survey conducted in 2015 which indicated that approximately 40 percent of Kansas job openings in agriculture were in agricultural mechanics. “We are very pleased with the enthusiasm from these students,” said Trenton Smedley, a KDA student intern who coordinated the program. “These events provide visibility and awareness about the need for growth in the technical workforce in the state of Kansas.”
“My students enjoyed working firsthand with those who are employed in the agricultural mechanics field,” said Katelyn Meiwes, agriculture educator at Altoona-Midway High School, “Their eyes were opened to the diversity of careers and opportunities within this industry.”
The event was organized by KDA and Carl’s Sales and Service, Inc. KDA serves to create partnerships between industry and education that ensure a pipeline of qualified individuals to fill the needs of agricultural employers.