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West Delaware senior Blake Cook became the first high school student in the state to earn a registered apprenticeship certificate in auto trades. From left, Kirk Burkle, manager at Boubin Tire & Automotive, Blake’s mom Nancy Cook, Blake Cook, Blake’s father Chris Cook and West Delaware Automotive Instructor Jason Guyer.

West Delaware senior Blake Cook recently became the first high school student in Iowa to complete the auto trades registered apprenticeship program.

The apprenticeship combines classroom instruction with hours spent working in a shop under the guidance of a mentor. Cook accumulated his work hours at Boubin Tire & Automotive under the watchful eye of manager Kirk Burkle.

Cook said he began working on the certification in December 2019. Normally apprenticeship students work at their job two or three hours a day after school, with more hours on the weekend. Cook was able to work more hours due to COVID-19.

“When school was shut down last spring, I could do my school work at night and work eight hours a day,” he said. “That really helped me get my hours completed as fast as I did.”

Cook said the apprenticeship taught him a lot. “I have a lot of interest in motors and cars, but I kind of started from not knowing much at all. I went from barely being able to do an oil change to finishing my third engine teardown recently. I definitely learned fast and learned a lot.”

Burkle said Cook was eager to learn. “Blake was phenomenal for us. He had a great work ethic and a willingness to learn. Where ever he ends up, whether it’s back with us or wherever he takes off to, he’s going to be successful. It’s great to see there are students like Blake out there.”

West Delaware Automotive Instructor Jason Guyer said seeing the success of the registered apprenticeship West Delaware offers in welding made him want to offer that to his auto students, too. “Seth Harms (West Delaware welding instructor) kind of laid the groundwork. He did a lot of work to get it off the ground and was a really good resource for me. I saw the opportunities it was providing for his students, not just to learn, but also to learn a skill and a trade. I wanted to be able to provide that for auto students as well.”

Juniors at least 16 years of age are eligible for the program. In addition, they must have taken at least one auto class with Guyer. “They should also have an interest or a passion for the automotive industry,” Guyer added.

Cook definitely fit the bill when it came to that passion. “I have a lot of interest in cars and motors,” he said. “The reason I got into this is I want to become an agriculture diesel technician and work with a local ag equipment dealer. I figured getting this apprenticeship would help boost my skills for when I go to college.”

Cook had praise for his auto instructor. “Guyer is a great teacher. He really puts himself out there. If you want to learn, he will teach you anything he knows. He wants to teach you so you can be successful and do it by yourself later on.”

Cook also thanks Kirk and Wayne Burkle at Boubin Tire & Automotive. “They were both great bosses. You can learn fast with them. They show you tricks they have learned about every problem and if you work hard, you will be able to do what they do.”

Cook has joined the National Guard and left two weeks ago for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He will return mid-summer, with plans to work at Boubin Tire & Automotive before beginning classes at Kirkwood in the fall. After that, Cook may be found working in Delaware County.

“I want to work at a local dealership and help the farmers around here. That’s one of my main goals.”