Where Are They Now? | August 2022 | By Ashley Butler
Meet Dave Thomas, a former Payson FFA member who served as the 96-97 chapter Vice President.
Dave grew up as a traditional ag kid, on a small dairy farm in Genola Utah, milking cows with his dad and grandpa. It was there that he found his passion for agriculture. That passion, along with the skills that he learned while in the FFA, have helped him succeed in his now 15 year career in the Ag. Equipment Industry.
After attending multiple FFA conventions and contests hosted by USU, and being familiar with the campus, Dave knew that’s where he wanted to receive his education, and after graduating with a degree in Welding Engineering, he landed his dream job as an Engineer for John Deere. While there, he was given the opportunity to be part of multiple new and innovative projects, resulting in many unique opportunities! Some of those opportunities included: helping ‘ramp up’ the production of the Articulated Dump Trucks that were being launched in North America, later switching to the marketing side of things, and working in a few different territories in the Western U.S. - managing and supporting large Ag. Equipment with producers, and also traveling internationally.
Since then, Dave has worked for New Holland, and now Case IH, where he is working in the precision agriculture and technology segment of the company. He is currently building and managing a worldwide customer group that will assist in testing the digital farm products before they are released to the market.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dave says, “I get to interact with agriculture customers from across the globe and collaborate with our engineering and development teams to ensure we develop and maintain a quality product in the market.”
After having the opportunity to work for multiple different companies, Dave says, “I’ve been fortunate enough to experience that regardless of the color of the paint, farmers and ranchers locally and abroad are counting on their equipment to perform. Being involved with how that equipment impacts their operation has been a really cool experience.”
When asked what he enjoys most about the industry, he says, “To me it’s the people of this great industry that gets me up and going each day. I understand the trials and challenges the agriculture industry is facing and ag equipment plays a vital role in helping ensure producers have success in their operations.”
Dave attributes much of his success to his time in the FFA and the leadership and teamwork skills he developed as a member. He also credits FFA for providing opportunities that helped him gain confidence in his own ability to accept challenges and work productively.
Mostly though, Dave is thankful for the invaluable public speaking skills that he learned through many different contests and activities in the FFA. Those skills have become a huge asset for him that he leans on regularly as he is often asked to present to large groups, host trainings and more.
When asked what advice he would give an FFA member who is looking to pursue a career in the agriculture industry, he said, “Go for it! Agriculture has changed so much this past decade and it will continue to change, for the better, as we continue into the future. You don’t necessarily have to come from a farm background like I did. There are so many new and exciting opportunities now tied to agriculture as the industry is continuing to evolve to meet the global demands of agriculture production. Precision Agriculture is far reaching, and the industry needs bright people willing to step in for a great career.”