20 Under 20 award winners announced


Staff report

DARKE COUNTY — Darke County Economic Development (DCED) announced Monday the 20 Under 20 Award winners from Darke County. This year’s selections included eight winners from Darke County, six winners from Auglaize County, and six winners from Mercer County.

The 20 Under 20 Awards were developed to recognize students, educators, and businesses collaborating to help prepare the next generation of workers in our region. For consideration, nominees must be under the age of 20, a resident of Darke, Mercer, or Auglaize counties, and enrolled in high school, post-secondary education, or adult education related to their career. Nominees must also be engaged in work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship, internship, co-op program, entrepreneurship, or other business/education partnership.

“This is our seventh year to recognize these business/education partnerships which are so important to addressing our region’s current and future workforce needs. All three members of the partnership – student, educator, and business – are being recognized, because all roles are essential for success,” said Tamala Marley, Workforce Specialist at Darke County Economic Development. “The number of nominees has grown over the last few years. Parents and students are seeing the value of work-based learning, which often includes debt-free education, gaining work experience while developing soft skills and earn while you learn opportunities.”

For 2022, Darke County Winners receiving the 20 Under 20 Award are:

· Josh Fett – Edison State Community College – Josh was nominated for his work as an Engineering Technician, by Lindsay Balster, HR Generalist at Fort Recovery Industries. During his time at Fort Recovery Industries, Josh has worked in both the maintenance and engineering departments repairing broken machinery and designing machine upgrades. His employer describes Josh as an employee eager to learn, taking what he learns in the classroom and applying it on the job. In his engineering classes, Professor David Barth encouraged Josh to share how the principles learned are being used in the workplace. Josh is currently enrolled at Edison State Community College pursuing his Associate’s Degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology. After finishing his current program of study, Josh plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Miami University, to be completed at Edison State Community College at the Piqua Campus.

· Landon Haney – Arcanum High School – Landon was nominated for developing and growing his own company – Haney’s Mowing & Landscaping, LLC – by Arcanum HS Principal Jason Stephan. Landon began his business at the age of 14 when asked to mow lawns for a family member. Since then, the business has grown to include full landscaping and snow removal service for local homes and businesses, and he currently has 5 employees. In addition, Landon won this year’s FFA Star State in Agribusiness at the Ohio FFA Convention, with Haney’s Mowing & Landscaping, LLC as his project. Brian Pohlman, Arcanum HS Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor, Satellite of Miami Valley CTC, says that “Landon is an excellent example of what is going right in the world.” Landon, a 2022 graduate, plans to continue growing his business while farming with his family, and pursuing an associate’s degree in Agribusiness at Edison State Community College.

· Dalton Hesson – Versailles High School – Dalton was nominated by his supervisors and co-workers for his work at GNB Banking Centers. They describe him as a teammate who loves helping others and is passionate about doing his best every day. “Dalton’s positive and uplifting attitude puts smiles on the faces of customers and co-workers alike,” says a teammate. As a participant in the Versailles HS Capstone Program, Dalton attended school in the morning and worked afternoons at the bank during his senior year. The Capstone Program, led by Ms. Dena Wuebker, Ag Instructor and FFA Advisor, gives Versailles HS juniors and seniors enrolled in agriculture education the opportunity to gain real-world employment experiences while still in high school. In addition to his classes and work, Dalton also served as President of the Versailles FFA during his senior year. A 2022 graduate, he is continuing to build his career in finance as a full-time team member of the loan department at GNB Banking Centers, and plans to take banking classes at Edison State Community College this fall.

· Alex Mangen – Versailles High School – Ms. Dena Wuebker, Ag Instructor at Versailles HS, nominated Alex for his work at Winner’s Quality Meats. He was a participant in the Versailles Capstone Program during his junior and senior years, working over 1,300 hours in 2021. Throughout his time at Winners, Alex showed a great interest in the business and continued to grow in his responsibilities and skills, including operation and maintenance of equipment, harvesting, and training other employees. He earned his reputation as a valuable employee who would often stay late to ensure that everything was done at the end of the work day.

· Keaton Mead – Bradford High School & Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC) – Keaton was nominated for his pre-apprenticeship at Calvin Electric LLC by Mr. Tony Trapp, Apprenticeship Coordinator at UVCC. Keaton began working at Calvin Electric in June of 2021 and continued throughout his senior year, alternating between work and school every two weeks. While at UVCC, Mr. Jeff Bertke, was his Electrical Trades Instructor. Keaton also remained active in sports at Bradford High School, participating in Baseball, Golf, and Powerlifting for all 4 years. The team at Calvin Electric shares that they appreciate Keaton’s positive attitude, willingness to do whatever is asked of him, and his ability to work well with every personality type, saying that his most valued asset is his solid work ethic. Keaton, a 2022 graduate, plans to continue his career with Calvin Electric, after having been offered a paid apprenticeship as he works to become a journeyman.

· Jacob Prasuhn – Ansonia High School & Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) – Jacob was nominated for his apprenticeship at Koenig Equipment in Greenville by Mr. Larry Seibel, Diesel Power Technologies Instructor at MVCTC. Throughout his senior year, Jacob participated in the MVCTC apprenticeship program alternating between work and school every two weeks. Jacob has also been active in FFA, has served as an officer, and participated in FFA team competitions. Mr. Seibel describes Jacob as someone who excels in both technical and personal skills while maintaining unreproachable character, and the Koenig team shares that Jacob is always eager to help others, and is modest and quiet, yet outgoing enough to ask questions to further his knowledge. Jacob, a 2022 graduate, has become a full-time teammate at Koenig Equipment, while continuing to farm with his father. He will also attend Owens Community College, sponsored by Koenig, to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in the John Deere Tech Program.

· Gracie Townsend – Mississinawa Valley High School & MVCTC – Gracie was nominated for her participation in the pre-apprenticeship program at Ansonia Lumber Company by Mr. Kelly Kramer, Construction Carpentry Instructor at MVCTC. During her senior year, she alternated between work and school every two weeks. Mr. Kramer shares that Gracie’s work ethic, goal setting, and commitment to her employer set her apart from her peers. During her time at Ansonia Lumber, she received exposure to many different areas of the business and performed a variety of jobs. She also helped Ansonia Lumber’s social media exposure by setting up and managing an Instagram account for the business. Gracie’s supervisor, Mr. Mitch McCabe tells us that her presence at work has had a positive effect on their team. Gracie, who graduated this spring, has now become a full-time member of the Ansonia Lumber Company team.

· Brittni Walker – IU East – Mrs. Amy Schoen, CT Instructor and Greenville Learning Center Director, nominated Brittni for her work as an Assistant Head Preschool Teacher at Greenville Learning Center during the 2021-22 school year. Brittni participated in the Careers with Children program at the Greenville CTEC during her junior and senior years, graduating in 2021. Mrs. Schoen describes Brittni as someone who is has a great love for learning and for helping others, and is skilled at interacting with both parents and children. Brittni excelled in her teaching role by always looking for new ideas and new ways to teach preschool children, while putting great time and effort into helping each student learn. Brittni is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at IU East to become a teacher.

Boulevard banners of each of the 20 Under 20 Award winners will be displayed locally. Winners were recognized at the Annual Economic Development Forum held by Darke County Economic Development and winning seniors were also presented trophies at their school awards programs. The 20 Under 20 Awards are sponsored by Darke County Economic Development, Auglaize Mercer Business Education Alliance (AMBE), and Hometown Opportunity.

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