Ellicottville senior Ashley Bognar, who is enrolled in the natural resources class at the Ellicottville Career and Technical Center BOCES, was awarded 1st place in Precision Heavy Equipment Operation at the recent state level SkillsUSA competition held in Syracuse on April 23-25. The award comes with a $10,000 scholarship to Ohio Technical College or a $2,500 scholarship to the Pennsylvania College of Technology if she chooses to attend either institution.

Bognar is the first Ellicottville BOCES student to place and win in the heavy equipment operation competition in more than 20 years. SkillsUSA is a national technical and vocational club that emphasizes technical excellence, character and community service.

After competing in the competition in 2013, Bognar decided to try again this year. She had to operate heavy equipment such as a mini-excavator and a CAT backhoe. She also had to do walk-arounds and pre-op checks on a skid steer and a pumper truck, along with using a builder’s level and leveling rod to record three different heights and determine the difference in grade. Finally, she had to take an 89 question multiple-choice test on mechanical and other aspects of heavy equipment.

Hundreds of students participate in the SkillsUSA state level competition in areas ranging from cosmetology and cabinet making to welding and photography. Bognar said she” had a lot of fun both years and participated with some great students and advisors.” She added that without the advisors, students and parents, she couldn’t have placed and won her competition.