A gift made from the land

Jim DeBord spent his life playing in the dirt. As a small child, he watched his father move dirt with horses in the early days of what would become the heavy equipment industry. DeBord followed in his father’s footsteps and continued to play in the dirt, making a lifelong career as a heavy equipment operator.

After more than three decades, DeBord gained a high level of hands-on proficiency with several types of machinery, such as motor graders, dozers, and front- end loaders. Operating heavy equipment allowed him to perfect his craft while basking in his love for the outdoors.

It has been nearly 100 years since Jim DeBord’s
father was in the heavy equipment field, and Jim acknowledges that the industry has changed since his time operating machines. However, the need for skilled, hard-working individuals remains constant. It is this industry need that drove Central Community College to establish the only heavy equipment operator technician (HEOT) program in Nebraska.

Heavy equipment operators are highly skilled technicians who operate large industrial moving equipment designed to construct roads, level land, lay pipe, and perform other activities. Thanks to the support from industry and donors, students in the HEOT program have the opportunity to learn on state- of-the-art simulators and operate heavy equipment machinery in an outdoor classroom.

Support for students in the program also comes in the form of scholarships. In 2020, Ron (Jim’s son) and Tammy DeBord established a scholarship in Jim’s honor through the CCC Foundation. Each year, two scholarships are awarded to students in the CCC heavy equipment operator technician program. Jim expressed his appreciation, stating, “I think it’s wonderful” in regard to the scholarship that bears his name.

Scholarships not only provide monetary support but also honor and remember the legacies of the donors, lifelong careers, and a belief in others. They encourage recipients to dream, pursue their passions, and give back to their industry.