posted Friday, July 18, 2008 on www.OEMOffHighway.com
What doesn’t change is the location: the Great Plains Technical College in Frederick. “This is our 16th year at Great Plains Technical Center, and the 24th year of the ProHarvest support program,” says Renaud, the Case IH Combine Specialist who organizes the ProHarvest kickoff. “We show up at the college and Jim Smith, [Agricultural & Mechanization Technology Instructor], opens his doors to us for a few days.”
Meanwhile, Bill Blankenship, who heads the local FFA Chapter, rounds up a posse of FFA volunteers. Together with Box Implement, the host Case IH dealer in Frederick, they plan and serve the Case IH-sponsored free breakfast to every custom harvester who comes to the kickoff. Just like the date of the kickoff, total attendance also depends on the weather. If the wheat is not quite ready or Mother Nature provides rain that means more attendees.
This year, more than 500 custom cutter crew members showed up for the breakfast and Case IH combine safety training over two days (the same program is repeated on day two). “This was our largest crowd in many years, and the more the merrier,” Renaud explains. “We don’t care what color combine you run. This is non-denominational training. Everyone’s welcome.”
Getting the attention of young crew members
Renaud says the goal of the ProHarvest kickoff is simple: Get the custom harvester crew members, many of whom are 18 to 23 years old, thinking about safety before they start the season. “Young guys this age think they’re invincible, so we review safety procedures, show them safety videos, and photos – some gory, some not – to remind them that accidents happen,” he adds. “We want to wake them up, raise the awareness of combine safety and get them started on the right foot.