Even though it was just for a few hours a week during high school, Ryan Walson’s internship at the 21st Century Equipment dealership in Torrington, Wyo. sparked an interest in working on agricultural equipment—as a career.
“I worked with the technicians during my senior year of high school, and I found that I really liked it,” he said. “Even though it was just an hour-and-a-half every other day, the guys put me on stuff and had me doing as much as I could in that short amount of time.”
Now Ryan is enrolled in the John Deere Ag Tech program at Southeast Community College in Milford, Neb., where he is in his first year of getting his Associates Degree. And to help him with his educational goals, he has received a scholarship from the Equipment Dealers Foundation, which is also matched by 21st Century Equipment.
“I’m thankful for the scholarship to help me with my schooling,” says Ryan. He also adds that he is grateful to the dealership, which has supported him by helping him purchase the necessary tools for work and has guaranteed a job once his schooling is done.
The Country Life
This career will also allow Ryan to “live the country lifestyle” that he loves. He’ll graduate in spring of 2021, and that means doing school work during the semesters while spending next summer interning at the dealership in Torrington.
When the program ends, Ryan says he’ll be heading back to Torrington to work alongside the experienced technicians at 21st Century Equipment. And it’s exactly the environment he’s looking for. “I like that 21st Century is a family-based company. They understand people—and treat their employees and customers like family,” he says.
“We know Ryan is excited to start the John Deere Ag Tech Program, and we’re happy to have him joining our team,” says Stephanie Barret, JDAT recruiter for 21st Century Equipment. In addition, Pat Overmire, who is the service manager at the Torrington location, says he is looking forward to working with Ryan through his coop experiences and is eager to see how he grows through his school career.
As for others considering a career like Ryan’s, he says the program is tough but good. And his advice for succeeding? “Study hard and if you can, take as many upper-level classes in high school, so you don’t have to do it college,” he says.
In the end, the program and internship have been a good fit all around, preparing Ryan for a career in agriculture. “I’ve loved working on equipment and vehicles for years,” he says. “And this is a great career because the equipment is always changing and people will always need a piece of equipment fixed.”
About the Scholarship
The EDF was established in 1988 to provide scholarship funding to help meet the industry’s needs for trained individuals. EDF also provides temporary assistance for dealerships and its employees affected by natural disasters. Learn more about EDF here.