Three students from Nodaway Valley High School are well on their way to being thriving diesel technicians thanks to a program from Brown NationaLease.
Brown, which owns and maintains all trucks for G&H Motor Freight here in Greenfield, started an apprenticeship program to help young people get acquainted with the world of working with diesel motors.
Tucker Bruns, Kaleb Wilkening and Parker Foster are Nodaway Valley students who recently began going through the apprenticeship program at Iowa Falls, which is overseen by Tyler Jass.
Jass has worked for Brown NationaLease for 18 years. A former educator and a former farmer, Jass liked the idea of this program and didn’t need to be persuaded very much in order to become a part of it.
The apprenticeship program is now accredited, meaning it is able to offer some of the same learning outcomes to apprentices that students at community colleges would experience.
Once apprentices graduate high school, they will have a toolbox given to them filled with tools. After two years of being in the program, the toolbox and all of its contents is theirs to keep.
“We pay for all the schooling and pay these guys to work for us,” Jass said. “It’s a little hard to comprehend when you’re describing the program, because everyone says it’s too good to be true. I wish they would’ve had something like this when I was a young gentleman in high school.”
The week of Jan. 15, the students traveled to Iowa Falls where they spent an intense four and a half days learning in Brown NationaLease’s shop during the day. At night at the hotel, they were working on homework throughout the week for the program.
“They had a very well-maintained shop — very organized. It was a great group of guys up there. They got stuff done, never struggled with anything and always knew what to do. They had great teachers who taught me a lot in just a week’s span,” Foster said. “I’ve always liked to turn wrenches and work on stuff, so this is a great opportunity for me.”
Wilkening admitted he was a little apprehensive when he embarked on the week in Iowa Falls, but the professionals he worked with made it “less scary.”
“I took a lot from it. We were all taught a lot but we were taught very well and effectively,” Wilkening said. “This seems like a good future and something I enjoy doing.”
Bruns said that this program will lead to “amazing pay.” Not only that, the instructors were top-notch in how they taught the material through the week the boys spent in Iowa Falls.
“There were three main diesel mechanics up there and three of us, so we each just stuck with one guy the entire time,” Bruns said. “They were able to show us what they’re doing very slowly, or they had us do it and they were telling us what we were to do very slowly.
The three students gained this opportunity through a Mini Career Expo program going on now at Nodaway Valley, Orient-Macksburg and CAM.
Each month, students hear from professionals in various fields about what they do at all-school assemblies. Those who are most interested in those professions then go on a field trip to those businesses a week later. Those who are the most interested and pass an application process, as part of the program, then go job shadow at those businesses a week following that. The February round of the program will feature Adair County Health System and Cass Health.
Jass said it is one of the most well-oiled job fair programs he’s ever seen. He left Greenfield the day he was here recruiting with very little interest shown by students, however they soon came calling and were very serious in Brown’s apprenticeship program. That impressed and encouraged him, making him feel like his trip to the area was well worth it.
“I’ve been to a few job fairs and I will say this might be one of the most well-ran ones I’ve ever been to,” Jass said. “The enthusiasm of the people putting it together [is impressive].”