Mechanical-minded students compete in state's first Gator Wars
Students from four Dodge County high schools had the opportunity to build their mechanical skills by performing a variety of hands-on activities during Ballweg Implement Company's first Gator Wars competition held in Wisconsin.
According to John Deere, the mechanical competition was launched over decade ago. Created by the FFA and John Deere, the Gator Wars program was created for high school students with a mechanical background, while also forging an outlet to kids who didn’t mind getting their hands dirty and weren’t necessarily farmers.
During the first competition, students were challenged to diagnose and repair a John Deere Gator that was “bugged". This idea became a regional and state competition with added mechanical activities. Ballweg Implement officials say the competition allows students to build their mechanical skills by performing a variety of hands-on activities.
High School students put their mechanical skills to the test by completing four different activities. This included component identification, installation of piston rings, measuring coolant levels, and electrical diagnostics. Students were given a situation and had 15 minutes to complete the task. Students were also given the opportunity to see, ride, and learn about John Deere's New AutoTrac Ready Gator.
The March 21 competition at the Waupun-based dealership hosted 38 students ‒ freshmen through seniors ‒ who participated on 10 teams of three to four participants representing five local high schools: Central Wisconsin Christian, Laconia, Horicon, Mayville and Waupun.
John Deere employees from John Deere Horicon Works and John Deere Financial of Madison served as judges and assisted during the event.
"Gator Wars is a great way for students to meet with working technicians, dealership personnel and John Deere employees," said Sheila Jaeckel, integrated solutions consultant with Ballweg Implement Co.
With the event hosted at an actual dealership, students were able to observe what a potential work environment would be like, Jaeckel said. In addition, an instructor from Madison College was on hand to provide information on mechanical programs available at the school for those interested in choosing a career path in the mechanical field.
Members of the State FFA Officer team were on site to greet students and provide information on the opportunities FFA membership provides. The Waupun High School, Warrior Innovation Center, designed and produced the Gator War Award that would be taken back to the schools of the top three teams.
Jaeckel says the Ballweg Implement was proud to host this inaugural event and is looking forward to even more schools and participants next year.
Ballweg Implement is a family owned and operated John Deere Dealership for over 46 years with locations in Waupun and Beaver Dam. Ballweg Implement has over 45 employees who handle everything with parts, service, and equipment needs to our customers. Schools interested in competing in next year's event are encouraged to reach out to Jaeckel at info@ ballweg.biz.