To keep up with current and future farm technology, Western Technical College announced a new partnership Tuesday with Case IH and St. Joseph Equipment. The 10-year agreement will provide students in the college’s agribusiness science and technology programs and the farm business and production management programs access to the latest farm equipment, and provide greater exposure for St. Joseph and Case in the region.

“We are strengthening ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zone and into this partnership,” said Western farm business instructor Brad Sirianni. “This partnership helps us be in a position to offer opportunities to our students that in the past would be impossible.”

Western’s agribusiness program is geared toward students looking to build a career in agriculture, said industrial technologies dean Bill Brendel, and the program involves studying crops, livestock and modern farming techniques. Students in the farm business program are required to be working on an active farm, and the program focuses on new agribusiness and farming skills.

In both programs, Brendel said students are required to attend both in-class and on-the-farm laboratory work, as Western partners with 200 to 250 farms in the college’s district. Tuesday’s announcement and demonstration of Case IH equipment was on one of those partner farms, the Miller Farm near Bangor, Wis., and Brendel said these kinds of partnerships allow students unique access to equipment and technology.

“We can’t afford equipment like this,” Brendel said at the announcement. “But our students can’t afford to not be exposed to these opportunities.”

Equipment like the combines and tractors on display Tuesday will be used by students at Western for the fall harvest. And in the spring the partnership will also provide equipment for the planting season.

At the demonstration, 19-year-old Western student Katyra Von Ruden was looking forward to the hands-on learning experiences she would be able to get from the partnership. Von Ruden’s dad and uncle grew up on the family farm, and she plans on having a career in agribusiness or maybe running her own farm some day.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to get hands-on experience,” she said. “There is only so much you can do in the classroom.”