With a 270-horsepower 8270R John Deere tractor and a 310K John
Deere backhoe loader as the backdrop, Southeast Community College
dedicated the new 20,000 square-foot expansion to its John Deere
facility Thursday morning on the Milford Campus.
The dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the new
"John Deere approached us about the demand for more technicians,
and our Board of Governors made a courageous decision to make this
facility outstanding," said Dr. Paul Illich, SCC president. "This
facility is about creating the best learning space for our
Expansion discussions began two years ago. Construction resulted
in doubling the square footage of space utilized by the John Deere Tech and Deere Construction & Forestry Equipment Tech programs.
Special features of the new space include touchscreen technology in
the classrooms, a geo-thermal field for heating and cooling, LED
lighting, and fortified restrooms that can serve as a storm
Glen Williams, dean of SCC's Transportation and Manufacturing
divisions, said the expansion gives SCC the capacity to enroll 140
John Deere Tech students and 40 Deere Construction & Forestry
Equipment Tech students at one time.
"This is one of the best John Deere Tech facilities in
the country," Williams said, "and we couldn't do it without dealer
Students in each program are required to have a sponsoring
dealer, and students continue their employment with the dealership
Zac Carder is from Longmont, Colo., and is in his fourth quarter
of the 21-month John Deere Tech program. Landmark Implement of
Smith Center, Kan., is sponsoring him.
"Every program class you go to, the instructors don't make it a
walk in the park," Carder said. "They are all great
Carder said the demand for skilled technicians remains high.
"It's a wide open field," he said. "They did a good job with
this facility, which will give students more opportunities. I know
of nine students who plan to become techs at Landmark. There are
lots of opportunities out there."
Three John Deere representatives attended the ceremony. Tien
Macdonald, training manager based in Canada; Deven Wilson, program
manager for John Deere's Construction & Forestry Tech Program
attending from Davenport, Iowa; and Joe Plymale, manager of John
Deere's College Partnership Program in Dallas, spoke highly of the
"This facility is very important, and it shows our dealers the
investment in training," Macdonald said. "Dealers have invested in
expanding their facilities, so it's great to see the College do the
Plymale said "the facility speaks for itself."
"It reflects the technology in the equipment that students will
see and service," Plymale said. "In the grand scheme, this
expansion is for the dealers so that we can get them qualified
Wilson said the expansion will allow SCC to double the number of
student enrollments for the Deere Construction & Forestry
Equipment Tech program.
"It's a state-of-the-art facility, and students will receive a
state-of-the-art education," Wilson said. "The facility, combined
with the excellent faculty and strong dealership personnel
involvement through the advisory boards, will provide for even
greater learning opportunities. "
Currently there are 57 students in the John Deere Tech program
and 16 in the Deere Construction & Forestry Equipment Tech
Fred Petsch, administrative director of John Deere Training at
SCC, started the John Deere Ag Tech program in 1989, the first of
its kind in the United States. Two years later a second instructor
was hired. Within 10 years, three more instructors were hired, and
the number of program instructors expanded again last year.
Kathy Boellstorff, chairperson of SCC's Board of Governors,
said, "Southeast Community College is committed to preparing
workers for today and tomorrow's workforce. Employers who hire SCC
graduates know they are getting an employee who is highly skilled,
dedicated and who possesses an exemplary work ethic.
"We look forward to the next 25 years of innovative partnership
with John Deere."
Bill Vocasek, chair of both programs, said the expansion of the
training facility will serve dealers and students for many years to
"I want to thank SCC's Board of Governors and Dr. Illich for
believing in us and investing in us," Vocasek said. "This is a