CASCO, Wis. (WFRV) – A first-of-its-kind high school training facility for diesel mechanics is coming to life in Casco. The Ahnapee Diesel program is driven to keep trained diesel mechanics here in the state.

Inside the former middle school for the Luxemburg – Casco School District, an old cafeteria is reworked, to create space for the Ahnapee Diesel program.

“Basic general maintenance, they’re going to learn about hydraulics, how does your front-end loader work,” said Director of Learning Services Michael Snowberry.

This new program is a partnership between NWTC, the school district and supported by local businesses.

“It really is meeting an industry need by doing something creative,” said Superintendent Glenn Schlender.

A first of its kind undertaking in the state open to juniors and seniors.

“This is the first ever program in cooperation with a technical college, where kids can earn a technical diploma in diesel shop mechanics, along with their high school diploma,” Schlender said.

Some 20 area companies that depend on local transportation donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort, like Kinnard Farms.

“Partnering in an opportunity like this really just makes good sense,” said Kinnard Farms President, Lee Kinnard.

Snowberry says businesses know NWTC instructors will develop skilled diesel mechanics, who while learning might also spend time in their own company as a paid youth apprentice.

“We have 23 students interested in the program this coming fall. We are going to try to place one student in every business every single year. They already have one student next year. We’re going to provide them another student,” said Snowberry.

Trained students that Kinnard hopes will stay in the area, instead of leaving the state.

“Kinnard Farms really believes that the best investment we could make is in the youth in our community,” said Kinnard.

And so too does the school district – preparing students for the world ahead.

“It’s all about career readiness for kids,” Schlender said.

The school district also recently opened a similar program for auto mechanics called Ahnapee Automotive.