South Georgia Tech’s John Deere TECH Program graduates largest class yet

Published 12:52 pm Saturday, July 7, 2018

AMERICUS — John Deere corporate officials and dealers from across the Southeastern United States held a special graduation ceremony recently for the 22 South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) John Deere TECH students who received an associate of applied science degree in agricultural technology.
Students from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi were represented in the graduating class. Families, friends and John Deere dealers gathered into the lobby of the new Morgan Diesel and Automotive Complex on the Americus campus to honor the new graduates
“To the graduates in here, this is a huge accomplishment,” said Taylor Bonner, director of the John Deere TECH program on the East Coast, who provided the welcoming statements. “This program is not one that is easy to go through. Working full time while you’re going to college is tough … it’s something that is a very big accomplishment. We don’t expect to stop selling tractors anytime soon, so as long as you guys want a job at your dealership, it’s going to be there for you.”
The class is the third of its kind to graduate from SGTC. The college and John Deere have partnered together since 2014 to provide potential John Deere Technicians with a comprehensive two-year associate degree in agricultural technology and the career of a lifetime.
“From the time you guys started in August of 2016 as freshmen, every single one of you has grown from then until now,” SGTC agricultural technology instructor Matthew Burks told his graduating students. “Just because you’re working in the shop turning wrenches right now doesn’t mean anything. The shop managers and corporate managers all started somewhere — each one of you has the opportunity to move up in this career.”
Following Burks’ remarks, the 22 graduates came up one-by-one to accept a program completion plaque from Bonner, Burks and agricultural technology instructor Wayne Peck.
The graduates included: Sean Thomas Barnett of Lincoln, Ala.; Kevin Leon Barthle of Lakeland, Fla.; Daniel Lee Black of Ocilla; Lucas McQue Boddiford of Sylvania; Clayton Brooks of Baconton; Garrison Clark Courtney of Cairo; Hunter Faulk of Tifton; Jackson Griffin of Barnwell, S.C; Jonathon Griffif of Westville, Fla.; Patrick Holderfield of Boaz, Ala.; Jordan Jackson of Alpaha; Ethan Jones of Sycamore; Michael Lellie of Sebastian, Fla.; Noah Phillips of Albany; James Timmerman of Dawson; Colton Vaughn of Lucedale, Miss.; Landon Watts of Monford, Ala.; Austin Westbrook of Malone, Fla.; Zachary Whatley of Christmas, Fla.; Grady Womble of Cairo; JaQuan Wright of Albany and Jake Young of Cordele.
Following the presentations, the graduates and their families were invited to meet with the dealers over hors d’oeuvres cooked and served by the SGTC Culinary Arts Department.
The John Deere TECH partnership allows students interested in pursuing an associate degree program in agricultural technology at SGTC to partner with John Deere agriculture and turf equipment dealers across the Southeastern portion of the United States for a career as a John Deere technician. Students must be sponsored by a dealer to enroll in this program.
The agricultural technology curriculum addresses the full range of technological advances in agricultural mechanization, focusing on both John Deere’s Agricultural and Turf Equipment product lines.

The graduates and their instructors.

Students learn about diesel engine systems, powertrains, hydraulics, machine setup and adjustment, as well as high-tech AMS electronics, schematics and diagnostics computers. Students also gain practical experience and expertise working with the computer-assisted resource materials used throughout the John Deere service network, such as Service ADVISOR. The program also emphasizes communication skills and other non-core disciplines essential to a successful career in ag service.
Students attend classes at South Georgia Tech for eight weeks each semester and then serve an eight-week internship at their sponsoring dealer each semester for approximately two years. During that time, students utilize John Deere equipment, training components, and computer diagnostic tools to understand what makes equipment run. This program provides students with the instructional knowledge needed as well as the hands-on knowledge and skills to be successful in this career.
For additional information on the new John Deere TECH partnership and Agricultural Technology program at South Georgia Technical College, contact Matthew Burks at 229-931-2401 or by email at