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Herkimer BOCES heavy equipment students
stepping up to responsibility of new tractor, skid steer

Jan. 25, 2016



Heavy equipment students on skid steer
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES heavy equipment operation program seniors pose with a new skid steer the program purchased from Clinton Tractor. The skid steer, which has many attachment options, comes equipped with all the latest safety features. Pictured from left to right, back row: seniors Aspen Effner, Robert Kemler, Nathan Lyga, Jared Flansburg, Isaiah Voorhees, Joshua Boyle, Eldon Hall, Hunter Burdick and Jacob Randall. Front: Clinton Tractor employee Tricia Martin and Herkimer BOCES heavy equipment operation instructor Tom Browka.



HERKIMER – Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES heavy equipment operation students are using the new skid steer and new tractor purchased for the program to learn not only operation skills but also responsibility.

Students conduct daily inspections before using the vehicles and can be found climbing all over them using their cellphones as flashlights to check to make sure everything is how it should be, instructor Tom Browka said.

“They’re really taking ownership and acting like, ‘This is our tractor,’” Browka said. “You toss them a key to a brand new vehicle, they step up to that.”

The New Holland skid steer and tractor were purchased from Clinton Tractor in December, after Herkimer BOCES auctioned off old equipment including a skid steer, dozer, wood chipper, tires and tracks.

The former Herkimer BOCES natural resource management program was split this year into a heavy equipment operation program and a conservation program in order to further focus the programs on students’ interests.

In the heavy equipment operation program, students have the opportunity to operate heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes, tractors, front-end loaders, excavators, forklifts, dump trucks and hand and power tools, while studying the use of the equipment and learning safety standards.

Heavy equipment students such as Ryan Zawtocki, of Dolgeville, and Brian Lawson, of Herkimer, who were in the natural resource program last year, said that the investment into the new equipment shows that Herkimer BOCES is backing up the plans for the program they decided to go into.

Zawtocki said that the students and Browka believe in each other and the program, and it feels good that there is support following his decision to join heavy equipment.

“I feel better jumping on the equipment now,” Zawtocki said. “I feel safer.”

Lawson agreed that the new equipment shows the students that the new program is important.
“There’s a commitment to it,” Lawson said.

Clinton Tractor also recently donated jackets to the students with Herkimer BOCES and the name of the program on the front and Clinton Tractor’s name on the back.

“It feels like they’re sponsoring us,” Zawtocki said.

Browka talked to the students about acting responsibly when wearing the jackets because they’re representing themselves, Herkimer BOCES, the program and Clinton Tractor.

“A big thanks to Clinton Tractor from all of us,” Lawson said, as the other students voiced their agreement with his comment.

Lawson also said that having new equipment makes the students want to keep it in good shape.

“You’ve kind of got to respect it,” he said.

The new pieces of equipment are noticeable upgrades for the program, Lawson said.

“They are better,” he said. “We know they are going to start up every time we go out there.”

The skid steer and tractor have new controls, so he and the other students will know how to use the modern controls when they get in the field, Lawson said.

Browka also noted that the tractor is standard, not automatic, so students will know how to drive either type of tractor when they work in the industry.

Heavy equipment senior Eldon Hall, of Central Valley Academy, said the new equipment runs quieter, so it’s easier to communicate and know what’s going on around you. Using modern equipment is good practice for working in the industry, and the students appreciate it, he said.

“We clean it a lot more,” Hall said.

Senior Robert Kemler, of West Canada Valley, said the students have worked to make sure they deserve the new equipment by auctioning the old equipment, selling wood last year and doing the right things such as keeping the shop clean.

“We earned it by giving respect and selling all our old stuff,” Kemler said.

Senior Jared Flansburg, of West Canada Valley, said he likes that the new equipment always runs effectively.
“You can actually learn how to use it better,” Flansburg said.

Senior Nathan Lyga, of West Canada Valley, works on his family farm and said the program is helpful because he learns how to use all the equipment.

“You become a better operator and learn how to use it properly instead of trying to figure it out on your own,” Lyga said.

Tractors have many uses including in the farming and logging industries, and skid steers are one of the most common pieces of equipment used in agriculture, landscaping, light and heavy construction and many other fields, Browka said.

“Any part of the industry they go into is going to have a skid steer,” he said.

Skid steers have many attachment options such as forklifts, snow-blowers, blades and stump grinders.
“It’s a very versatile machine,” Browka said.

The program has forklift and grapple bucket attachments for the skid steer, and the grapple bucket also attaches to the tractor.

Both the skid steer and tractor have modern day safety features that meet current industry standards – such as seatbelts and engine lock-out, Browka said. Students also no longer sit inside a cab for the tractor, so it’s easier to communicate with them while they use it, he said.

By operating, studying and inspecting the machines, the students also are preparing for forklift and National Center for Construction Education and Research certification, Browka said.

The students have already operated the machines for uses such as snow removal and have gained practice attaching and detaching pieces of equipment.

They also have participated in a “skid steer rodeo” by operating the skid steer through an obstacle course and moving a bucket of water without spilling it to prepare them for using various equipment effectively in the industry, Browka said.

“They’re developing the eye-hand coordination and the skills necessary to be familiar with this machine,” he said. “If they can operate the skid steer, the tractor and other equipment, those skills transfer over.”



Heavy equipment students on new tractor
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES heavy equipment juniors Nicholas Nitti, Aaron White, Raymond Fraiser and Cory Nagele (pictured from left to right) pose with a new tractor the program purchased from Clinton Tractor. The new tractor has modern safety features, allows for easier communication with the driver and will help students practice for work in the industry.


Heavy equipment seniors wear jackets donated by Clinton Tractor
Some of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES heavy equipment seniors and their instructor pose wearing new coats donated to all seniors in the program by Clinton Tractor. Pictured from left to right: instructor Tom Browka, Eldon Hall, Brian Lawson, Robert Kemler, Jacob Randall, Nathan Lyga and Jared Flansburg.



Clinton Tractor jackets
Heavy equipment students show the backs of their jackets donated by Clinton Tractor.





 
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