By Carmen Landhuis
As a kid growing up in Edgerton, Minn., Jesse Tschetter mowed lawns. After graduating, he was accepted into Southeast Technical College’s Sports Turf Management program.
“What really made this program stand out was the many different career path opportunities it would provide,” said Tschetter.
After learning more about the program, cost, and realizing he could obtain a degree in two years, Tschetter’s decision was easy. Within his first year attending Southeast Tech, he gained hands-on experience on grasses, pests, various equipment used in the industry, and the knowledge needed to maintain fields at a professional level.
As the semester came to an end, his instructor, Cory Borgen, shared a handful of websites that offered field-related jobs and internships.
“The career opportunities in our industry have always been excellent,” said Borgen. “In fact, our interns and graduates could go just about anywhere they want; the demand is so high.”
Southeast Tech’s Sports Turf Management program boasted a 100% job placement rate among its 2021 graduates.
One posting in particular caught Tschetter’s eye — an internship for the Atlanta Falcons. Feeling nervous about the application process, Tschetter applied knowing this would be an opportunity of a lifetime, even as a Dallas Cowboys fan.
“Am I really doing this?” Tschetter recalls feeling anxious, yet excited after receiving the call that changed everything.
When the semester ended, he made his journey to the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, located in Flowery Branch, Ga., to begin his three-month-long internship. Living in the city was a change of pace from his hometown, but he’s thriving!
“Our program has been successful in placing students with internships that align directly with the students’ career goals. Students have interned with Major League Baseball teams, such as the Boston Red Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ve interned with Minor League teams all over the country and locally in Sioux Falls, including the Sioux Falls Canaries and Parks and Recreation,” said Borgen. “However, Jesse is the first student to intern with a National Football League team.”
Tschetter is grateful for how Southeast Tech and his instructors prepared him for the skills needed to complete the jobs and tasks required to maintain a facility for an NFL team.
“Without these skills, I wouldn’t know how to use the equipment needed to provide maintenance to the fields, schedule waterings, perform proper mowing, landscaping or painting the fields each day for practice.” said Tschetter.
Tschetter is returning to Southeast Tech this fall to complete his program, and plans to graduate in May 2023.
“After graduation, I’m hoping to further my experience in another sports facility,” said Tschetter. “Working with parks and recreation or becoming a grounds crew member on a college campus with an athletic division.”
In the meantime, Tschetter is staying busy on the field, learning as much as he can from this life-changing internship, and casually meeting professional football players. The Cowboys will always be his favorite team, but this fall he will be following and cheering for the Falcons, too.
Carmen Landhuis is graphic designer and marketing assistant and Southeast Technical College, Sioux Falls, S.D.