Case IH and its Wausau-area dealership, Service Motor Co., will provide a range of equipment for NTC's new Agriculture Center of Excellence. The center — a working farm north of campus on Highway K in the town of Maine — is scheduled to open this fall.

NTC leaders, local government officials, current ag students and Case IH leaders gathered at the site Wednesday for a ceremony to celebrate the signing of the partnership agreement. They also looked over some of the Case equipment brought out for the occasion.

"I think this is way better than buying used equipment," said Dan Enge, 22, of Stevens Point, a student in NTC's dairy science program.

The agreement calls for Case IH to supply the farm with new equipment each year for the next 10 years. About 15 pieces of equipment will be provided to NTC each school year, including tractors, a planter, a combine, tillage implements and other equipment. The Racine-based manufacturer also will provide employees for training on how to use the equipment.

Patricia Lardie, manager of government sales for Case IH, declined to reveal the equipment's worth. "This is about education and technology, not dollars," she said.

The equipment will be used by the school for one season or school year, then sold.

"It's huge, absolutely huge," said Scott Mickelsen, NTC dean of agriculture and community services. "It's created an avenue for our students to learn on the very best."

Lardie said the partnership with NTC represents an intensified commitment on the part of the company to provide educational opportunities.

The partnership has a marketing component for Case, as well. Students who train on the equipment might be more inclined to purchase Case equipment later when they're operating their own farms, Lardie said.