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Energy Optimizers, USA donates new tractor to ‘Green Acres’

A big farm requires a big tractor and that’s exactly what the Noble Local School District has thanks to one of its ongoing corporate partnerships.

Energy Optimizers, USA, which has done a significant portion of the construction around the school campus in recent years, provided the district with an impressive piece of equipment ­ a 91-horsepower Kubota tractor ­ to be utilized as the farm (known as “Green Acres”) begins to take shape.

The tractor ­ valued at $67,000 ­ was purchased from Lashley Tractor Sales in Guernsey County.

It sports 4-wheel drive with both heating and air conditioning in the cab and it’s equipped with a front end loader as well as an instructor’s seat.

Long-time SHS Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor Eric Van Fleet was almost in disbelief when staring at the bright orange tractor parked in front of the high school.

“If you would have told me when I came here that we’d have a farm and a brand new tractor, I would have said you were crazy,” he said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for our kids and I can’t wait to get started. The future is very, very bright here.

“Lashley Tractor Sales has given us thousands of dollars (for FFA) dating back to as long as I can remember,” Van Fleet continued. “A big ‘thanks’ to Energy Optimizers and Lashley Tractor Sales for providing this opportunity to our kids.”

Joining Van Fleet with that “kid on Christmas morning” feeling was Matt Wentworth, the district’s newest addition as an Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor.

“This is a big, big start for us,” offered Wentworth. “We will eventually need a bush hog, a hay mower and other attachments for things like animal handling, but what a great way to get us going.

“We have several students who live and work on a farm and operate equipment,” he continued. “but we have even more who don’t and for them to have the opportunity to learn how to safely operate and drive a tractor is huge.

“Our advanced kids will have the opportunity to get started right away,” Wentworth added.

Being a part of Noble Local’s vision prompted the donation, according to Dave Eshbaugh, General Manager of Energy Optimizers, USA.

“We work all over the state of Ohio (more than 300 district) and to see Noble Local doing what I think the education process should include ­ things like teaching kids shop and agriculture/farming ­ is tremendous,”said Eshbaugh. “I went through four years of FFA and it’s great to see what’s going on here.

“We wanted to be part of what’s going on,” he continued. “We want to see this farm take off because we think it will be a model for a lot of districts your size to look to and we hope to do more in the future.”

Eshbaugh was joined at the presentation by Rusty Bookman, the Executive Account Manager of Energy Optimizers, Al Berger of AJB Engineering and Chris Lashley, Manager of Lashley Tractor Sales.

Lashley, a 1997 Shenandoah graduate and a former FFA member, was impressed with expansion of the ag program at his alma mater.

“Most schools are taking away from their ag programs and to see Shenandoah expanding the program is very special to me,” he said.

NLSD Superintendent Dan Leffingwell not only offered the district’s appreciation for the donation, but provided the students with words of encouragement going forward.

“We now have a fantastic piece of equipment for our farm,” Leffingwell told more than 100 Ag/FFA students in grades 8-12 at the unveiling of the new tractor. “Our facilities, our programs and the things we’re doing are top-notch to provide you (the students) with the training to go anywhere you want, do anything you want and do it better than anybody else. That’s what it’s all about.

“We are one of the few districts in our region that are expanding and growing, so we’ve got to keep the momentum going,” he added. “We are very appreciative of Energy Optimizers and Lashley Tractor Sales for their partnerships because they are helping to create yet another return on investment for us.”

One thing’s for sure around the Noble Local School District about that big, shiny piece of farm equipment for Green Acres: We think our tractor’s sexy!

Jeff Harrison is Communications Director for Noble Local School District.

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