August 11, 2023

Hinds CC students benefit from partnership with John Deere, Stribling

“We are fortunate to have eight highly trained instructors with industry experience to mentor our students in the Diesel program,”
BY: Rhonda Dunaway

Stribling Equipment in Richland has teamed up with John Deere and Hinds’ Diesel Equipment Technology Program to form the new partnership that will add John Deere technicians to the ranks of diesel mechanics.

“John Deere engines are a little more difficult to work on than your average diesel engine,” said Jason Kinzey, Service Development Coordinator for John Deere. “Diesel engines are known for their difficulty to begin with. There is a huge demand for these types of technicians all over the nation.”

The students who are admitted to the program must have a sponsor from a local John Deere dealership and repair shop. These students were recruited by John Deere dealerships and will be working for the company when they graduate. There is also an opportunity for a Registered Apprenticeship program with Stribling Equipment after graduation.

The John Deere training requires completion of the 45 credit hours of the technical certificate and an Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Equipment Technology degree (AAS-DET). Students must also complete a 16-week internship with their sponsored dealer. 

“The two-year degree gives them the tools they need in life to work in corporate offices as easily as they work in the shop,” Kinzey said.

The Hinds Diesel program has been around for 50 years. In 2014 Hinds and Empire Trucking Sales Stribling Equipment joined forces to start developing the Hinds Diesel Technology. The first Hinds Diesel Technology Academy cohort started in August 2015. 

“Empire Truck Sales/Stribling Equipment wanted to partner with Hinds to enhance the already existing Diesel program,” said Lee Douglas, Director of the Hinds Diesel Technology Academy. “They asked the Hinds leadership team how their companies could help contribute to grow the program. They are great partners that provide the building for the Diesel Academy on Highway 49 and loan us updated equipment for students to train on. We’re very grateful for this partnership.

“We are fortunate to have eight highly trained instructors with industry experience to mentor our students in the Diesel program,” Douglas said. “Our team has put a lot of work into this program. They are the key to this thing.”

The initial class includes Kyle Hernandez of Springdale, Ark., Hayden Beech of Meridian, Kyren Holloway of Carthage, Caleb Carver of Winona, Griffin Berch of Clinton and Brelan Necaise, of Picayune.

Carver and his family live on a small farm in Mathiston. “I’ve been working on tractors and back hoes and farm equipment since I was 10 or 11,” Carver said. “This is a natural fit for me.”

Amy and Creston Berch of Clinton were with son Griffin Berch. The family was at the event to show the 18-year-old how proud they are of him, his mom said. Griffin graduated from Clinton High School in May.

“He was in the construction program in high school,” said Amy Berch. “It was in 9th grade that there was a project he had to do where they were supposed to shadow someone at work, and he chose to shadow Paul Berry at Stribling, and that’s where it all got started. We are so excited for him.”

Among speakers at the June 16 signing event were Vice President of Instruction and Career Technical Education Sherry Bellmon, Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik and Mississippi’s Agricultural Commissioner Andy Gipson.

Gipson said he attended the event to honor the students and to praise the people at Hinds CC for establishing the specialty training he says is badly needed in Mississippi. Gipson said he believed the new program will become a model for the nation.

“This is a huge deal for the state of Mississippi,” Gipson said with a tip of his iconic cowboy hat, “and I want to say, on behalf of the state of Mississippi, congratulations to you students, and to Stribling, and to Hinds for the foundation you have laid, and for getting John Deere here on site. This is directly addressing the no. 1 issue we have in Mississippi when it comes to growing our economy. We are experiencing record agricultural production, but what Mississippi needs is a developed workforce, and you are the answer to that problem.”