Agriculture boot camp provides students with hands-on experience and a chance to learn from alumni

Image credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

December 8, 2021 – This week nearly 30 high school students from across Saskatchewan gathered for an in-person agricultural boot camp hosted by Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Sun West Distance Learning Centre (DLC). These students are part of an Agricultural Equipment Technician (AET) course offered by the DLC in partnership with Canada Equipment Dealers Foundation, Sask Polytech, Sun West School Division and the Western Equipment Dealers Association.

“Demand for qualified agricultural equipment technicians across the industry led to this innovative partnership and is allowing students to experience this career first-hand,” says Lori Gasper, Ag coordinator with Sun West DLC. “Students from across the province get to experience a day-in-the-life of a Sask Polytech AET student. This insider’s view of AET training will help them make an informed career choice after high school.”

At the boot camp, the students experienced first-hand the work that is carried out by agricultural equipment technicians. This included hands-on work with transmissions, engines, and electrical components. Boot camp attendees were mentored by Sask Polytech’s apprenticeship and certificate students – six of whom are alumni of the DLC’s high school program themselves. The boot camp alumni shared their experiences from both the DLC and Sask Polytech AET programs.

“I took the Sun West Distance Learning Centre’s AET courses in grade 10 and 11,” says Jesse Thorpe, Sask Polytech AET student. “Both courses got me really interested in going to [post-secondary] school for AET and have made this first year at Sask Polytech so much easier.”

“Agriculture is an important industry in Saskatchewan and directly supports seven per cent of all employment in the province. Sask Polytech is excited to encourage more high school students to pursue an agriculture career,” says Chris Thomson, Sask Polytech AET program head. “We are seeing the benefit of high school students exploring the trade and participating in the boot camp. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about and prepare for the Sask Polytech AET certificate.”

Sun West DLC offers AET20L, AET30L, and Parts Technician 30L courses to high school students across Saskatchewan. All three courses include 50 hours of online theory, 40 hours of practical work study at an agriculture dealership and a 10-hour boot camp at Sask Polytech. High school students are introduced to these in-demand careers as AET’s and parts technicians are responsible for keeping some of today’s most technologically advanced machines running—tractors, combines, cultivators, seeders and sprayers.

The boot camp was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

AET bootcamp