February 1, 2019
Story and photo by Kelsey McGraw
The John Deere College of Tomorrow Award is a prestigious honor given to John Deere training programs across the nation. Rankings of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum may be awarded to programs, with Platinum reserved for only those with the most exceptional programs. The programs are evaluated and graded on a number of factors including internship communications and connections to businesses.
The prize includes $1,000 for program scholarships; one of the program’s instructors receives a week of paid training at one of John Deere’s facilities to learn new technology and equipment; a plaque, a John Deere TECH College of Tomorrow jacket and a crystal trophy.
In addition, John Deere annually provides money for scholarships to the most outstanding students in the program. Combined with the $1,000 from the College of Tomorrow award, roughly $4,000 in scholarship money will be given back to the students to reward their hard work.
ASU-Beebe Agriculture Technology department head Shawn Taillon is proud of what the agriculture technology program has accomplished. When asked what he believed was the deciding factor in the program’s success, Taillon pointed to the work-type environment they have built for ASU-Beebe’s John Deere students.
“We look to give off a dealership vibe,” said Taillon. “When students graduate, they’ll be prepared to enter the workforce.”
“Our facilities are the turning point,” Taillon explained. “ASU-Beebe has been very good to our program; when we needed something, we got it. Our facilities and image are professional, such as our inventory storage, outdoor signage, our offices. We have great backing here from ASU-Beebe.”
Taillon said he is excited about the opportunities earning this award presents, especially in changing public attitude about what being in agriculture technology means.
“It brings awareness. When you say we teach John Deere, you think ‘Wow, the tractor program.’ When we say we won the Platinum John Deere College of Tomorrow Award, we gain recognition and a more prestigious air.”
The John Deere Ag Tech program is one of several unique programs offered at ASU-Beebe, with on-campus learning and hands-on educational experiences giving students the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their field. Instructors are core-certified John Deere service technicians who receive regular training on advancements in the industry, making them quite literally the cream of the crop.
While the John Deere program can be rigorous for students, it is also incredibly rewarding. Through the courses offered during the two-year program, students earn 60 credit hours with ASU-Beebe toward their Associate of Applied Science Degree in Agriculture Equipment Technology. They also earn credits with John Deere University, an advantage for students when they graduate.
Taillon says he loves what the program can do for students. “We are a program that takes a student who wouldn’t typically go to college, and we are teaching them a mechanical trade that can help them get work. Our students can make an average of $37,000 a year plus bonuses and commissions. We have a lot of go-getters who are at the top of their game. They work hard and build up those relationships with farmers. They learn a skill, get a degree, and become fine young adults,” continued Taillon. “As an instructor, it’s great to be a part of that.”
There are 16 John Deere training programs across the U.S. competing for this award annually. ASU-Beebe takes great pride in the John Deere Ag Technology program being ranked as the #1 John Deere program in the nation.
For more information on the John Deere Ag Tech program or other ASU-Beebe programs offered, call (501) 882-8860, or view the ASU-Beebe website at www.asub.edu.