Saratoga County

Charlton teen tops students from 3 states in hydraulics

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior Joe Durand used skills acquired at BOCES to edge out two dozen of h

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior Joe Durand used skills acquired at BOCES to edge out two dozen of his peers in one of the challenges at the SUNY Cobleskill Agriculture and Natural Resources High School Day competition.

On Sept. 23, 436 students from across the state, as well as Massachusetts and Connecticut, assembled at the State University of New York at Cobleskill to compete in events like small gas engine troubleshooting, cut flower identification and dairy cattle showmanship. Durand, 17, of Charlton participated in the hydraulic and light construction equipment operation category.

Participants were given 5 minutes with a John Deere 50D excavator to move three telephone poles off a pallet onto a stand and a rack, using a hydraulic thumb and bucket. Scoring was based on a combination of time and mistakes, such as dropping the poles or scratching the ground. Durand finished in two minutes and 47 seconds.

“I thought I did pretty well,” he said. “I didn’t know I would get first, but I thought I did decent.”

The competition included a written test, which Durand said revolved around safety and common sense. He got a perfect score on this part.

Because of his time at the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, Durand had amassed 80 hours of experience on excavators and gone over the materials covered on the written test, which had prepared him for the competition.

He began attending BOCES last year and has become a vocal supporter of the program. “It’s a great class for someone who wants to go into that field and wants to get their feet wet,” Durand said. “There’s hands-on and book work.”

Next fall Durand is planning on attending Ohio Diesel Technical College in Cleveland, where he hopes to learn the skills to be a diesel generator technician. He characterized the field as something in the vein of his father’s work on generators for General Electric and his own fascination with diesel engines.

“I love diesels. I own a diesel,” he said. “It blends my father’s work and my dreams.”

Durand spoke very highly of the opportunities he got through the BOCES, including that his classes were run “excellently.” He said his classmates and he were lucky to have Ken Brooks as a teacher, but lamented the loss of another teacher due to budget constraints and lack of interest. “We want to get him back,” he said. “The instructors really make the class.”

WSWHE BOCES serves over 42,500 students.

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