John Deere in Moline, Illinois, has chosen Neil Behnke, a volunteer with the nonprofit organization Black Forest Together, the grand prize winner of the second annual John Deere “Small Machines Big Impact” competition.
Behnke can now pick a new model from the full range of John Deere small-, mid- and large-frame G-Series skid-steers and compact track loaders (CTL), with a WorkSite Pro™ attachment to boot. The machine will be used to help with his project, “Rising About the Ashes.”
The project helps residents of Black Forest, Colorado, USA, clear their land of dead, hazardous trees, which were felled by the most destructive fire in the state’s history. The devastating fire took place in 2013—it spread over 14,000 acres in 10 days, destroying more than 500 homes, causing $85 million in damage and resulting in two fatalities.
“My family loves the quiet beauty of Black Forest,” said Behnke. “I remember what this place once was, and I know what it can be. I want to see this community grow and thrive again.”
John Deere will also assist the two runner-up finalists with their community projects by leasing them a skid-steer or CTL from John Deere Financial for one year.
Furthermore, the three finalists will each receive a $2,000 stipend to help with the completion of their respective projects. The funds were donated by John Deere and a number of its local dealers.
Graham Hinch, division manager of John Deere Commercial Worksite Products, said: “These deserving finalists have inspired us with their enormous compassion and generosity. We are eager to follow their projects and see all that they accomplish in their communities using our G-Series machines.”