WHEATLAND — When 2019 Calamus-Wheatland graduate Jason Daniel participated in the school district’s school-to-work program, he thought it would be a good opportunity to find out exactly what his dad’s job entailed.
What he also came to find out, was that it wasn’t the kind of job he was interested in as a future career.
Daniel’s dad, Josh, is the plant manager at Black Cat Blades in DeWitt, which is a global manufacturer and distributor of wear parts to the construction, mining and road-maintenance industries.
While manufacturing may not be Daniel’s calling, he did get to experience a few things that captured his interest, one of which was the company’s Computer Numerical Control Programming system.
“That was the coolest thing I saw there,” Daniel related. “It controls all the machines. I also got to work on my communication skills. I learned if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.”
His next internship was at Kunau Implement in DeWitt. There, Daniel learned how to put together lawn mowers, helped conduct safety checks and made sure equipment worked properly.
The biggest difference he noticed between the two job experiences was the pace of the work.
“At Black Cat, it’s kind of hour-to-hour,” Daniel said. “At Kunau, as soon as you get one thing done, you move right on to the next thing.”
Originally, it was thought Daniel would take over his grandpa, Pat Green’s, farm, located north of Calamus, after he graduated from school.
But, learning how to operate the equipment at the farm essentially is what led him to tap into his true interest — diesel mechanics.
“I remember getting into trouble for taking things apart,” Daniel said with a smile. “But I always put them back together.”
Praised by Calamus-Wheatland secondar y resource teacher, Mary Jo Petersen, as a “rock-star intern,” Daniel chose to follow his true ambition.
He applied for the sponsorship program through Titan Machinery, and he was accepted.
As a result, Titan Machinery will provide financial assistance for Daniel to earn his two-year Associate of Applied Science Diesel degree, a tool box, tools and uniforms.
In exchange, Daniel will work for Titan while in school and for two years after he graduates.
It’s an opportunity for which he is grateful. The 18-year-old said more high school students need to make an effort to explore their options — all their options.
After all, there are a lot of programs like Titan’s that can offer financial help and jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree.
“I understand the pressure of going to the ‘right school,’ but there are a lot of paid internships available,” Daniel noted. “Especially in the trades area, and people can get paid to get trained on the job. The field really needs people and companies are willing to help.
“I would tell students to broaden their horizons so they realize what they do and don’t like. That’s what I was able to do through the schoolto- work program. It really helped me see what I wanted. Now I’m looking forward to learning more, to meeting new people and to just enjoy what I’m doing for a living.”