Kyle Collins starts his day tending to his family’s farm, which produces soybeans, corn and hay among other grains. Then he arrives to greet his Diesel Ag. Technology Students at Tri-County Career Center, where he began his career.

He graduated from the program in 2004 and began working in the field. When his mentor, Jim Washburn, retired from Tri-County, he took over as instructor looking not much older than his students. When Collins is not teaching or farming, you may find him participating in local truck and tractor pulls pulling his Pro-Form Pulling Tractor, which is one piece of equipment his students help him maintain.

Students with an interest in Diesel Mechanics and Agriculture can earn industry credentials and a state certification through hands-on training along with practical work experience, which is what sets his program apart. His students are also heavily involved with Tri-County’s FFA Chapter. His students learn the basic skills in his lab, and then participate in external job shadowing, internships and early placement experiences to learn the skills that employers want and need.

Students begin earning living wages year after year, before they even graduate because of his business and industry partnerships that place his students. Those business leaders know that Collin’s students have been properly prepared and are willing to take them to the next level.

For example, Robert Rozell, a 2020 graduate, was hired by Caterpillar last year and is currently serving in Caterpillar’s Think Big Dealer Technician Program in Illinois. Robert says, “Without Mr. Collins I would not have had this amazing opportunity.”

This year, Will Buckley, a senior in Collins’ lab, is working full-time for Leslie Equipment, making great money, while taking advantage of Tri-County’s College Credit Plus (CCP) option. The CCP option means Buckley is taking online college classes that also count toward his high school academic credit requirements. Leslie Equipment is reimbursing Buckley’s tuition money as he heads to college this Fall in North Carolina to participate in the John Deere Agricultural Tech Program.

Collins has seniors Lane Welker and Lane Perani doing early placements at AgPro in Lancaster and Zanesville, and Brennan Moore at Ricart in Lancaster. Kyle also helped Autumn Wade (2019 graduate) get into the Local 18 Apprenticeship Program in Logan, and Wesley Cline (2019 graduate) get into the Diesel Technology program at Owens Community College in Toledo, where he is set to graduate soon.

“Students that want to come and learn these skills and add their own work ethic can literally write their own ticket. I’ve seen it year after year. Plus, it helped me get where I am today,” says Collins. There are a few spots left in Tri-County’s Diesel Ag program for next school year. Sophomores in Athens, Hocking, and Perry Counties can apply at tricounthightech.com.

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