BBCC graduate finds success in local Ag industry

student with cap

MOSES LAKE — Recent Big Bend Community College graduate Erik Vela has wasted no time in putting his degree to use. Vela received his Agricultural Business degree this spring and shortly after, used it to land a job with Wilbur-Ellis in Warden.

Wilbur-Ellis is one of the largest family-owned companies in the world. The company’s agribusiness division provides farmers with crop protection, seed and nutritional products, as well as precision agriculture technology.

Vela was initially brought on at the Warden branch as an intern, but has since worked his way up into a full-time field service position.

“During winter, when it slows down, we take the pumps that put fertilizer and chemicals in the fields and break them down, service them and make sure we repair parts if needed,” said Vela. “Then during the spring and summer our big role is taking those pumps and big tanks back to the fields.”

Vela said he hopes to one day get into the sales side of the business.

“My goal within the company is to become a salesman, and help farmers with their chemical and fertilizer needs,” he said.

Vela grew up in Warden and had known from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in the Ag industry.

“Ag is huge in this area, and my dad worked in the industry for more than 15 years, so I got to see what he did,” he said. “When I was 16, I started working for a farm and realized I really liked working outdoors, and I really liked the industry and the people I worked with. I told myself I was going to go to college and start looking into a career in the industry.”

Vela said he started at Big Bend to save money and stay close to home.

“Having a good school close to home played a huge factor in my decision,” he said. “I also liked that I would be close to all the Ag companies in the area.”

Vela said the most enjoyable aspect of the Big Bend Ag program was learning from instructors who had worked, or who still were working, in agriculture.

“Their expertise was very helpful,” he said. “The instructors taught us what we needed to know for the industry, what was expected and how we could get started working in a certain area.”

Some of those takeaways have helped Vela stand out at work.

“Erik is very eager, and came with a great set of skills,” said Vela’s supervisor, Wilbur-Ellis agronomist James McLane. “I love working with him. He has honesty, integrity and a good work ethic, all things companies are looking for.”

To learn more about the BBCC Agriculture program, click HERE!

farm equipment & Ag program students

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