Indianapolis – When Kellie Einck was a youngster, she found horsepower and torque far more interesting than playing dress up. The Paullina, Iowa, resident’s fascination with engine mechanics eventually led her to take agriculture and power in addition to other technical courses while she was in FFA. And the combination helped fuel her desire to become an engineer.
For her supervised agricultural experience (SAE), Einck worked at a small car garage as a general mechanic and service technician in her hometown of Primghar, Iowa. Then she went to diesel tech school at a community college in town. There she enjoyed the hands-on work of mechanical engineering.
Einck’s experience with agriculture was limited while she was growing up, but most everyone in her family drove trucks. “They hauled livestock, so to an extent it was agriculture, but getting in this field has broadened my horizon. There’s crops, animals and custom work on top of it,” she says.
Einck decided to look into a career that focused on mechanics, perhaps mechanical engineering. She began taking classes for a two-year degree in diesel technology Now she works as a general mechanic and service technician for Randy’s Services and ICON Ag and Turf.
Einck says FFA helped her with her communication skills and her ability to promote herself and her work in what is typically a male-dominated field. She mentions that other obstacles she has had to overcome included physical feats based on the size and weight of machinery and other mechanical components.
She says she has gained an immeasurable amount of mechanical knowledge as a result of working on more than 30 different models, all systems of a tractor and engine and serviceable parts of a combine.
“I say if you heart’s in it, go for it,” Einck says. “Each step I took had its own challenges, but each success gave me a giant boost of confidence to go on to the next thing. It takes courage, perseverance and optimism to keep pushing on. ”
Her dedication to the profession has earned her the honor of being named a 2017 finalist for the American Star in Agricultural Placement.
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.
The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated by a panel of judges who then interview the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.