April 14, 2024

‘Green Club’ supports ag tech students

Ed Winkelman, Friends of Green Club president, stands next to the John Deere pedal fire truck that’s one of two prizes in the group’s drawing to raise scholarship funds for students in the Lake Land College Ag Tech program.

GIFFORD, Ill. — An organization comprised of classic John Deere tractor enthusiasts is raising funds for Lake Land College scholarships.

The Friends of Green Club, a branch of the I & I Antique Tractor & Gas Engine Club, had an informational booth at the Midwest Ag Expo where they were also selling chances to win the first prize, a golden John Deere 4430 pedal tractor, or the second prize, a John Deere pedal fire truck.

Ed Winkelman, of Armstrong, Friends of Green Club president and among the directors of the I & I club, said the organization has used its proceeds from previous drawings to support local food banks. They’ve added a scholarship program to their generous efforts.

“Right now, we’re in the process of helping some students at Lake Land College through the John Deere Scholarship program,” Winkelman said.

“We’re making a donation of $3,000 to help out some students there this year. It looks like we’re going to have about 10 students that we’re going to be able to help financially. Hopefully, we can even up that a little bit in the future. These are ag students who are specializing in John Deere equipment.”

Tech Program

Lake Land College offers a John Deere Tech program that includes a standard classroom lecture along with gaining laboratory experiences on John Deere products.

During training, students learn how to diagnose and operate on John Deere tractors, combines and implements.

“We’re a John Deere group and we want to help support our young people and help them get through these programs where they learn some of the basics in mechanics and some of the electric skills that they need for this new equipment,” Winkelman said.

“This is the first year we’ve done the scholarship. We’ve been fortunate enough in the past year with the Half Century of Progress and the John Deere show at Penfield to bring in some extra funds to be able to do this. Our main goal is to get some of this money out there to help out the younger people.”

The organization also plans to have a drawing during Historic Farm Days in Penfield July 11-14 with the top prize being a 4020 toy John Deere tractor in observance of that series’ 60th anniversary.

The Friends of Green Club has about 50 members from Illinois and Indiana and a Facebook group page that continues to grow with about 13,000 members.

Winkelman has been restoring tractors for 40 years, starting when he purchased a 1937 John Deere.

“I’ve probably painted over 100 tractors. I’m in the process of painting one right now,” he said.

Winkelman was jokingly asked what color he paints them.

“Mostly John Deere. I have painted a few other colors, but I always tell them that there’s no guarantee that it will come out that color because my paint guns have had nothing but green and yellow in them,” he said.

Winkelman grew up on a farm doing all of the farm-related chores. His career path led him to work as a mechanic at Kraft while farming part-time.

“I worked at Kraft for 35 years. When I retired from Kraft 17 years ago, I bought a few acres of ground so I’d have something to play on with my antique tractors,” he noted.

He also helps a friend with his planting and harvesting.

“So, I get to get out there a play a little bit. I’ve always been a farm boy,” he said.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor