Saratoga County

BOCES students can become ‘Catmasters’ in new program

A new partnership between the regional BOCES and Arctic Cat will allow high school students to becom

A new partnership between the regional BOCES and Arctic Cat will allow high school students to become certified snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle technicians.

“It’s a real hands-on educational opportunity,” said John Rieger, vice-president of the BOCES Board of Education.

Rieger, who has sold Arctic Cat snowmobiles and ATVs at his Country Power Products Inc. business in Greenwich for 40 years, was instrumental in developing the partnership.

A main goal of BOCES’ career and technical education program is to work with business and industry so that BOCES students can develop industry-level skills, Rieger said.

“This gives them a higher level of employability,” Rieger said.

The certification program is part of BOCES’s outdoor power equipment technician class at the Southern Adirondack Education Center on Dix Avenue in Hudson Falls, which is operated by the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Students in the outdoor power equipment technician class, a two-year program, learn how to repair lawn mowers, tractors, chain saws, and power generators. Now they are adding snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) to the list, courtesy of Arctic Cat.

Arctic Cat recently sent two dealer training specialists from company headquarters in Thief River Falls, Minn., to present a full-day seminar in Saratoga Springs for about 60 Arctic Cat dealers from around the Northeast and also for the BOCES instructor of the new program, John Winch.

Winch, a veteran teacher at BOCES, was joined at the seminar by BOCES second-year student Ian Moreau.

Greg Harris of Arctic Cat said the company will be supplying the BOCES with a brand new Arctic Cat Prowler snowmobile, a new ATV, and a new UTV. The company will only charge BOCES $600 per year for the lease of more than $30,000 worth of machinery.

The company will also supply the school with engines, clutch parts, and differentials that the students can take apart and reassemble. At the end of the school year the snowmobile, ATV, and UTV are returned to Arctic Cat, which will provide brand new models for the following school year.

“The students will be certified,” Harris said in a statement. “It’s a good program because they will definitely be able to get a job with a dealer once they are certified.”

“Dealers always need good technicians,” Harris said.

Rieger said it’s important that students “get proficient at the industry level.”

He said the students can earn a “Catmaster” certification from Arctic Cat as part of their two-year outdoor power equipment technician program. They must also pass the Arctic Cat test at the end of the program.

Douglas Leavens, BOCES director of career and technical education, said the Arctic Cat partnership is the first of its kind for a technical school for high school students.

“Most of these agreements are captured by technical colleges,” Leavens said in a statement.

Rieger said, for example, that SUNY Morrisville once offered a snowmobile technician program.

The regional BOCES serves students from 31 school districts in its five-county region. Adults can also enroll in any of the BOCES 21 career and technical education programs, including automotive technology, culinary arts, engineering, forestry, graphic arts, heating, air conditioning and ventilation, horticulture, and welding.

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