Tyson-DMACC partnership honors second graduating class

Graduates, from left, Jeffrey Cechovic, Jacob Cameron, Cullen Friedrichsen and James Willis were treated Saturday at a graduartion banquet in recognition of their success as the second class to graduate from the Tyson Fresh Meats-DMACC One-Plus-Two Industrial Maintenance Program.

Four students were honored Saturday at a banquet at the Hotel Pattee as the second class to graduate from the Des Moines Area Community College VanKirk Career Academy and Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. partnership called the Industrial Maintenance One-Plus-Two Training Program.

The graduates were Jacob Cameron, Jeffrey Cechovic, Cullen Friedrichsen and James Willis. The grads and their families were treated to a banquet and ceremony at the Hotel Pattee in Perry.

DMACC representatives joining the graduates and their families and friends for the midday meal were Continuing Education Executive Director Mike Hoffman, Continuing Education Coordinator Galen Briggs, Instructors Bob Hunt and Brett Brubake and Administrative Assistant Mary Ocker.

Representing Tyson Fresh Meats at the banquet were Plant Engineer Randy Leesley, Corporate Maintenance Training Manager Daniel Moreno, Human Resources Manager Alberto Olguin, Maintenance Training Supervisor Christopher Roberts and Chaplain Terry Wilkinson.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union representatives attending the banquet were Jody Wells and Jessica Khalid, who was a member of the first graduating class in 2018.

Connie Saenz of GEAR UP and Susana Romero of AmeriCorps were special guests. The PHS-based programs promote high school completion and career exploration.

During their first year in the Industrial Maintenance One-Plus-Two Training Program, the student-workers took classes at the DMACC Perry Van Kirk Career Academy in the mornings and worked at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry in the afternoons and on Sundays. During the second and third years, employees will work full-time at the Tyson plant and then continue as full-time employees after graduation.

Classroom work began last June, and some of the topics in the classes included:

  • Industrial Electrical
  • Motors and Controls
  • Hydraulics/Pneumatics
  • Welding
  • Industrial Mechanical Maintenance
  • Mechanical Power Transmission

The starting wage was $19 per hour, and the student-workers were paid for attending classes. In addition, a full benefit and insurance package will be available on the first Monday after two months of full-time employment.

Tyson sank about $15,000 into the program partnership with DMACC, and both partners in the One-Plus-Two program came away with positive impressions.

“This was a great opportunity to partner with such a great school as DMACC and to enhance this great community of Perry,” said Tyson Maintenance Training Supervisor Christopher Roberts. “We look forward to maintaining this partnership for many years to come as we train the next generation of maintenance technicians. This program provides a good career option for students and allows DMACC to expand its vocational training opportunities in Perry.”

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. employs about 1,300 people at its Perry plant. The Des Moines Area Community College serves nearly 60,000 students at 12 campuses around central Iowa.

For more information about the Industrial Maintenance One-Plus-Two Training Program, contact the the Tyson Fresh Meats Employment Office at 13500 I Court in Perry.



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