American AgCredit Donates $10,000 to Elsie Allen High School Agriculture
By Tim Tesconi, Sonoma County Farm Bureau
American AgCredit, the region’s largest farm lender and one of the leading benefactors to agriculture organizations, has donated $10,000 to the Elsie Allen High School Agriculture Program to purchase a PlasmaCAM computer automated metal cutting system.
This system uses supercharged electrified air (plasma) to cut through metal, providing high school seniors with the latest technology for vocational education.
Culminating from the efforts of many donors, Terry Lindley, the chief marketing officer at American Ag Credit, authorized $10,000 to purchase this system, saying it was a good investment in educating young people.
“I had to put the money toward a cause that would allow students to continue learning by doing,” said Linley.
The total cost of the system was just over $20,000, and included a 5’ x 10’ cutting table, computer aided design software, and a new plasma torch to dedicate to the system. This system will allow students in the Agriculture Mechanics program to gain introductory skills in computer aided design (CAD) systems which can transition into current industry skills.
Grant Ermis, who teaches agriculture mechanics and other ag classes at Elsie Allen, last fall made the community aware of the needs for the plasma cutter in his shop classes.
The new system also gives students a chance to practically apply computer technology to learned fabrication techniques; resulting in tangible projects that help students gain skills as individuals and professionals.
According to a 2012 labor market report from the California Employment Development Department, manufacturing jobs in production were up 18.8% from the year prior. While the majority of manufacturing jobs available in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the engineering and design sector (up 8.6% from the year prior).
This sector is seeking students who have a higher level of skills when compared to the national average to fill positions everywhere from reception to individuals on the production floor who are fluent in computer aided design (CAD). Additionally, the Sonoma County Profile compiled by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board in 2011 listed that 19.2% of jobs in Sonoma County are in Agriculture, Construction, and Manufacturing. This makes up the second largest jobs category compared to Service Industries at the top of the list, and thus the need for trained professionals in these areas.
Other significant donations for the plasma cutter came from the following: Willie Tamayo of LaTortilla Factory. Gail Dutton of Dutton Ranches, Ed Petersen, Mike Lopez, The Wes Jamison Endowment Fund, Bob Higham, Brian Bartlett, and the Elsie Allen High School Agriculture Boosters.