By MARINA WATERS
When Washington County’s career and technical education students get back to school, they’ll be hauling more than just knowledge with David Crockett and Daniel Boone High School’s two new tractors.
West Hills Tractor in Jonesborough delivered New Holland tractors to both high schools on Tuesday, Aug. 25, for students to use at the schools. That machinery will serve numerous CTE students, especially in their hands-on projects, said Crystal Fink, Washington County Schools’ Career and Technical Director.
“We’re career and technical, so we’re hands-on, obviously,” Fink said. “Any time you can implement a hands-on skill, that just really elevates the program.”
Students will use the tractor in agriculture and horticulture studies while also working to landscape and serve as a hauling tool at Crockett and Boone.
“We’re all still virtual learning right now, but I’m sure the agriculture teachers are discussing possible projects,” Fink said. “Both high schools have a horticulture program. They also do some environmental and natural resource (work). Daniel Boone has vet science — anything they can utilize the (tractor) in, whether it be some landscape, turf management, or moving some hay for the cattle. It’s wide open what they can do in this program of study.”
Agriculture students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the new tractors.
Fink said West Hills will send a technician out for tractor maintenance, which will provide students with a first-hand look at keeping up with the machinery while also teaching them an age-old lesson about taking care of the equipment.
“My dad farmed, so I know you have to take care of the equipment,” Fink said. “That is just as important to me, learning how to properly maintain this equipment. That’s so important.”
Automotive students could also benefit from the day of maintenance, Fink said, by learning from the technician the best way to care for that type of large machinery.
“This is a piece we could implement those (automotive) students in,” Fink said. “With automotive, it’s more like light maintenance, and this is diesel equipment, but we might be able to work that out so automotive students could participate on that day of maintenance.”
Not only will the tractors be used for in-class projects, but Fink added the schools’ Future Farmers of America groups will also get to utilize the machinery, which will give numerous students a chance at hands-on learning.
“This is also going to help support our career technical student organization, which is FFA,” Fink said. “It’s close to 300 students we have in the organization between the two high schools. We have a large number of agriculture students. It’s not just going to affect a couple students.”
Fink stressed that the project would be impossible without West Hills Tractor, who will provide the schools with a brand new tractor each year the schools participate in the lease project. That lease project, she said, is one that has been implemented at area colleges, but Boone and Crockett are the first high schools to join in on the tractor projects with West Hills.
“West Hills Tractor reached out to us…they wanted to provide these tractors,” Fink said. “It’s called a lease program. When the year is up, we will be provided with a brand new tractor. If we can continue with this program, it’s really a win-win. It’s great for our agriculture departments and they also get the training piece with the maintenance and the safety and all.”
West Hills’ collaboration with the county school system is also part of giving back to the community and the schools many of its employees once attended.
“It’s really the community giving back,” Fink said. “West Hills, 80 percent of their employees are Washington County alumni. They want to give back and support our agriculture programs. It’s great. We were very pleased with that community outreach and partnership … I just really want to be sure the public knows how much Washington County Schools appreciates what they do for us and the kids.”