Jaxson Eskam, a recent graduate of Southeast Community College (SCC) in Milford, NE, wasted no time in launching his John Deere career. As a member of the John Deere Ag Technician Program, the 20 year old didn't have to go through the usual job-hunting process or worry about student debt burden.
"I feel like I'm ahead of the game," Jaxson said. "This program has given me a head start financially. I don't have any school debt or student loans. That will make a huge difference in my life."
Born and raised on a family farm, Jaxson always had a passion for mechanical work and knew he wanted to return to the agriculture industry. During his senior year at Scottsbluff High School, he enrolled in the Diesel Program, where he first learned about the Ag Tech Program at 21st Century Equipment.
The hands-on experience gained from the High School program led him to discover his passion for the profession. As part of the program, Jaxson and his classmates explored various businesses in Scottsbluff and Gering, learning about scholarship programs and career prospects. When he came across 21st Century Equipment, Jaxson knew it was the perfect fit for his aspirations.
“I got a lot of hands-on diesel tech experience in the high school program. We went around to all the businesses here in Scottsbluff and learned about all the scholarship programs. When we came to 21st Century Equipment, and I learned about the program, it was a no-brainer,” Jaxson said.
Jaxson's educational journey continued after graduating from Scottsbluff High School when he enrolled in the diesel tech program at SCC. This decision set him on the path to becoming a qualified technician. Through a collaboration with 21st Century Equipment, the program provided Jaxson with additional hands-on experience through practical work at the dealership.
One of the most valuable aspects of the two-year program for Jaxson was the opportunity to dive into projects without fear of making mistakes. Working closely with experienced instructors created an ideal learning environment, allowing Jaxson to refine his skills as a technician and feel confident about starting his career after graduation.
"We covered every aspect of the work we do in the shop – air conditioning, heating, powertrains, engines, transmission and more. It was an incredible hands-on experience," Jaxson said. "My favorite part was when we completely disassembled, reassembled and test-ran an engine. I've always loved working with engines, so it was great to dive into it and understand how everything works."
With a few months of experience at the Scottsbluff location, Jaxson is settling in well. He appreciates the friendly and relaxed atmosphere, as well as the mutual support among colleagues who are always willing to lend a hand.
According to Jaxson, flexibility, patience and attention to detail are crucial qualities for a successful technician. The field of diesel technology is ever-evolving, demanding adaptability and a willingness to embrace new concepts. Jaxson emphasizes the importance of taking the time to complete tasks correctly, avoiding mistakes that could arise from rushing. Attention to detail and patience are key to becoming a top-tier technician.
The most rewarding aspect of his job, in Jaxson's eyes, is the customer base.
"We have an incredible customer base here in Scottsbluff. They are all wonderful people, and it's satisfying to see them drive away with their equipment," Jaxson said.
Jaxson attributes much of his success to the helpfulness of his colleagues. Both at 21st Century Equipment and during his time in the program, instructors and mentors guided and supported him. Their commitment to nurturing students' growth extended beyond the classroom, instilling confidence and providing invaluable advice.
For anyone on the fence about joining the program, Jaxson offers this advice: "Go for it because agriculture is everywhere, and the opportunities are endless."
Jaxson recommends the program because not only provides a degree but also guarantees a job upon graduation. Students receive scholarships and the necessary tools for their trade, ensuring they are well-prepared for their careers. Jaxson expresses deep gratitude for the program's comprehensive support, which allows him to focus on his professional growth rather than worrying about job hunting, acquiring tools or dealing with student loans.
The 21st Century Equipment two-year diesel Ag Tech Program works with participating John Deere regional colleges and our own partner community colleges to offer students the chance be a part of our team and grow the possibilities for a career as a service technician. Students learn the ins-and-outs of John Deere technology, systems and more, get first-hand experience and learn from a team that takes great pride in what they do.