STREATOR, Ill. — Cars — and auto and diesel mechanics — provided Levi Nodine a roadmap after high school.
“He really didn’t have a goal. This all happened this year,” said Nodine’s mother, Brandi Clift.
Nodine was attending Livingston Area Career Center and was enrolled in the center’s firefighting curriculum, but it wasn’t a good fit. Then he purchased a car that needed some work.
“My brother told him, if you buy the parts, I’ll help you fix it. That was what started the ball rolling, was just my brother working on vehicles, working on that car, with him,” Clift said.
That led to Nodine switching to studying diesel technology at Livingston Area Career Center.
Just a few weeks before he graduated from Woodland High School in rural Streator, Nodine was the star at a ceremony in the high school’s gymnasium and attended by other Woodland students.
Todd Crowley, corporate service manager at Prairie State Tractor, was the master of ceremonies.
“I get 50 applications for this program from students. Levi stood out to me with how good of a person he was. That is a big deal,” Crowley said.
Nodine applied for and was accepted into Prairie State Tractor’s Tech Student Program. But the next step, with the pen and paper in front of him, was his to take.
“We want you to come to work and love being at work. I know that Levi is going to be that guy. We are thankful to be here with you. With all of that said, if you are committed to excellence, use of integrity and consistent follow through for the betterment of all, please sign and we would love to be your sponsor,” Crowley said.
Nodine, watched by his mother, signed the commitment letter to Prairie State Tractor Tech Student Program.
Through the program, Nodine will attend Lake Land College in Mattoon, to participate in the college’s John Deere TECH Program.
Upon successful completion, Nodine will receive tuition reimbursement from Prairie State, a toolbox and tools worth $10,000. As part of the agreement, he agrees to work for Prairie State for four years following college.
Nodine’s signing was followed up by cheers and applause from his fellow students.
“Nice work, man,” Crowley said as he shook Nodine’s hand.
Nodine said the program that Crowley talked about when Crowley visited Livingston Area Career Center piqued his interest and inspired him to apply.
“I thought it sounded like an amazing program to be a part of, as well as the great atmosphere that Prairie State has to offer,” Nodine said.
“It’s an amazing offer and I am so happy with this,” Clift said.
Crowley said that from the start of the process, Nodine stood out.
“Levi, right off the bat, great conversations with him. He always responded quickly on email, text and phone. That is a big deal. This young man has knocked it out of the park when it comes to communications,” Crowley said.
Jacob Burcenski, principal at Woodland High School, said he was happy to take part and have students attend the signing ceremony.
“We have a good group of kids who are hard workers and we think our partnership with Livingston Area Career Center is extremely helpful to them. We want to bring more attention to it. We think there are more students who are interested, but who might not be aware of all of the possibilities available through LACC,” he said.
Burcenski said it was exciting to see a Woodland student accept the Prairie State Tractor offer.
“We love seeing our kids get to this level and achieve this much,” he said.