May 22, 2024

Prairie State Tractor program is natural next step for Ebersole

Careers in Agriculture

Eric Ebersole signs a commitment letter for Prairie State Tractor’s Tech Student Program as his father, Sheldon Ebersole, and mother Julie Ebersole, watch. Eric is a 2023 graduate of Milledgeville High School. He will be attending Lake Land College’s John Deere TECH Program. Eric attended Whiteside Area Career Center, where he stood out for his ability to complete tasks with minimal input from his instructors, as well as his work ethic and dedication to completing tasks.

DIXON, Ill. — On his way back to farm full time, Eric Ebersole is making a stop at Prairie State Tractor.

“My end goal is to farm full time some day. So, during the time I am working full time off the farm, working for the day when I would farm full time, I wanted to be learning something that would be beneficial for the rest of my life,” said Ebersole, who graduated from Milledgeville High School.

Shortly before he graduated in May, Ebersole signed a commitment letter with Prairie State Tractor’s Tech Student Program. The program sponsors students in diesel technology programs at community colleges throughout Illinois.

Upon successful completion of their college program, each student receives tuition reimbursement from Prairie State, along with a toolbox and tools worth $10,000.

As part of their commitment, the student agrees to work for Prairie State Tractor for four years after they graduate from college.

For a kid who has enjoyed “wrenching” since he was old enough to pick one up, and who wanted to return to the family farm immediately after graduating high school, the Prairie State signing day was a win-win.

“It is something he has always been interested in, the mechanical side of things. He wanted to come back to the farm right after high school. We were encouraging him to at least get some sort of schooling,” said Sheldon Ebersole, Eric’s dad.

Sheldon operates a grain and livestock operation with his brother and he also is a Pioneer seed dealer.

It was a visit to Lake Land College and a look at the college’s John Deere TECH Program that sold the deal for Eric Ebersole.

“We run John Deere equipment, so diesel mechanics and this program was the best option and I can always use these skills,” he said.

“We were all impressed with the program at Lake Land and the college. It’s a win-win for everybody. The company is committing to these kids and vice versa,” Sheldon Ebersole added.

Julie Ebersole said Eric has always enjoyed work, so a summer internship at Prairie State Tractor’s Dixon store, then a move to Lake Land, is just continuing what he loves to do.

“He’s weird in that work has always been fun to him, so this is a good opportunity in that way. It’s a good weird, but it’s very hard to find in kids,” she said.

Todd Crowley, corporate service manager for Prairie State Tractor, said Ebersole’s work ethic and his ability to complete a job with minimal input from his teachers stood out while he was a student at Whiteside Area Career Center.

“He was the 2022 Student of the Year in the automotive program at WACC. One of the criteria was being able to be given a task and only asking the teacher when he actually had a question,” Crowley said.

“It meant a lot to his teacher that he wasn’t asking for step-by-step instructions. And Eric wasn’t messing around. Where some of the other kids might have been talking off to the side, Eric, he wasn’t going to play that game.

“He knew the cars had to get back to the customers, so he got them done in an efficient manner. And that is a big deal for us, because that is something we face all the time, having to be efficient for our customers and trying to minimize their service charges.”

Crowley said Ebersole’s commitment to hard work also stood out.

“He takes pride in hard work and that is what Prairie State Tractor is all about,” Crowley said.

Then Crowley, a former soccer coach who started the idea of the signing ceremonies, similar to events held for high school athletes attending a college or university for a sport, asked Ebersole to sign on the solid line.

“Eric, if you are committed to excellence, using integrity and consistent follow through for the betterment of all, we would love to sponsor you and you are welcome to sign,” Crowley said.

Ebersole signed to applause and hugs from his parents.

“Nice work, congratulations, and glad to have you on board,” said Crowley of Prairie State Tractor’s newest star recruit.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor