Hunterdon County Vocational School District presents the Business Partner of the Year Award to owner of Hunterdon Horizons Excavating, Sumner Siecke. Pictured left to right are HCVSD Superintendent Dr. Todd Bonsall, Heavy Equipment Operator Instructor Richard Hubert, Sumner Siecke, and HCVSD Board President Elizabeth Martin.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District recognized Hunterdon Horizons Excavating, a full excavating and septic installation company based in Flemington, as its Business Partner of the Year.
Owner Sumner Siecke has been an invaluable asset to the district’s Heavy Equipment Operators Program (HEOP), which began in fall 2018.
The award is given annually to a county vocational technical school business partner for outstanding contributions to career and technical education. Business partners play a variety of roles, including serving on county vocational technical school program advisory boards, offering opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience, donating equipment, or serving as mentors and role models for students.
“Sumner Siecke has been monumental in jumpstarting the new Heavy Equipment Operator Program at Polytech,” said Dr. Todd Bonsall, the superintendent of Hunterdon County Polytech. “Serving on our Heavy Equipment Advisory Board, he has provided input on the program curriculum, training and equipment needs and industry trends.”
Siecke has not only lent his expertise, but also his equipment, to ensure that this new Polytech program provides students with an educational experience that best prepares them for work in the field. The program is the first of its kind for New Jersey high school students and was developed to meet workforce demands.
Siecke helped develop the program as a member of its advisory board and has remained involved, often consulting with HEOP instructor Richard Hubert and offering advice and training opportunities to students. Siecke has loaned equipment for students to use at Polytech’s Central Campus, where HEOP is held, including a backhoe, articulated end dump truck, utility tractor, and asphalt roller. He also has welcomed students for field trips to his shop, where they could try out different equipment.
“Our HEOP students use specialty simulators for hands-on training, but they would not have the opportunity to run real equipment without the generosity of Mr. Siecke,” said Hubert. “His involvement has allowed us to develop an effective training program, using the real tools of this particular trade.”
In addition to hands-on training, Polytech’s HEOP also includes classroom instruction based on nationally recognized curricula, including blueprint reading, site preparation, job estimating, OSHA 10 certification, and CDL training. As a member of the program’s advisory board, Siecke also gave input into the development of this curriculum.
“Mr. Siecke’s involvement with our district speaks to his commitment to his field, as well as his community,” Bonsall said. “He is clearly committed to helping us educate and train skilled workers in heavy equipment operation, and he is even providing our students with opportunities for employment.”
Siecke offered a full-time position to Greg Sampson, who was among the first students to complete Polytech’s HEOP in June 2019. He also will sponsor Sampson as an apprentice at Hunterdon Horizons Excavating.
“Mr. Siecke is proud of the industry and sees the need for skilled workers,” Bonsall said. “His involvement with our district speaks volumes to his commitment to the field, the future education of heavy equipment operators and our community.”
Read about Business Partners of the Year in other counties.