She’s a tractor woman
PAULLINA – Kellie Einck said she didn’t do it for the attention, but it certainly has given her a status unique among Northwest Iowa women – especially at her age.
Einck, 20, received a National Proficiency Award at the 2015 National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The award was in the “Agricultural Mechanics, Repair and Maintenance-Placement” category.
The award, given after a lengthy application process, a few essays and a face-to-face interview with panelists at the FFA convention, earned her a couple prestigious plaques, $1,000 and a trip to Costa Rica to learn about farming practices in that country, and to find out what impact those farming practices could have in the United States.
Today, she works as a mechanic at Icon Ag & Turf, a John Deere dealership in Paullina.
Einck’s road to success began with her local FFA Chapter at South O’Brien High School. She joined as a freshman and began to focus seriously on her future.
She said she used to ride with her father on his over-the-road trucking trips from coast to coast, and they would often talk about how things work.
The more she learned about mechanics, the more interested she became.
She decided in high school to enroll in the diesel mechanics program at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, earning most of her college degree while still in high school.
She graduated from South O’Brien High School in May 2014, and from NICC in July 2014.
She was on the job hunt for only a short time before finding employment close to home.
“I used to come in here when it was Greenway Implement,” she said. “I didn’t know I would someday work here.”
Before claiming a national award, Einck had to be named a state winner through answering questions and writing essays.
“Only four of 50 state winners are chosen as national finalists, and I was one,” she said.
Einck traveled to Louisville to interview with the panelists.
“They wanted to see what I knew and see how passionate I was for my profession,” she said. “They gave me different (scenarios) about repair work, and I had to tell them how I would fix that problem.
“They wanted to see my critical thinking skills. When you’ve been in the field every day, it was easy.”
Einck said there was another female selected as a national finalist in ag mechanics repair and maintenance. She said the edge she had over that other young woman was that she (Einck) was going into ag mechanics for a living, while the other young woman was restoring tractors with her father while attending veterinary college.
When all was said and done, Einck’s name was called as the national winner in her category.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “My knees were shaking and I was so nervous.
“There were 100,000 kids in the audience, and we were out there in front of all of them. When they called my name everyone in the Iowa section was screaming and cheering. It was intense.”
Einck said there are 49 different categories of competition in areas that pertain to all avenues of agriculture.
She said the Proficiency Award is not a hands-on contest, but rather, something she called an in-depth resume.
“They want to know how proficient you are in your area, what you have learned and how passionate you are for your area of work,” Einck said. “They want to see your growth in that area and know that you have worked hard to get where you are.”
Einck said youths can be in FFA up to four years following high school graduation.
Throughout high school she worked at Randy’s Service in her hometown of Primghar, changing oil in cars and pickup trucks, and changing and repairing tires.
Today, work boots and a pink cap complete her look of khaki pants, a service shirt and pink tools.
“People always say to me, ‘You’re so pretty, why are you here?'” she said as she laughed. “It makes me blush.
“It’s just what I want to do. I like being here.”
She works on any equipment that comes in for repairs. She said she has split a 4020 tractor, repaired SCVs, worked on combine heads, and whatever else comes into the shop.
She said farmers bringing equipment in for repair are largely encouraging to her, being the only woman in the repair shop.
But she said some still prefer guys to repair their machines.
“Some of the older farmers have always had a guy working on their equipment,” she said, adding that she understands their hesitation. “It’s okay.”
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