Last August, just as he was about to begin his final year of studies at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Zak Schute heard that he had been named the first winner of the Rick Taylor Memorial Scholarship. “I feel very honored to be the first winner of the scholarship,” he says. “I feel like it was a great fit for me. I am happy to be the first one, to give them a good idea of what to look for in the future.”
Schute set the bar high. According to Sara Taylor, new employee manager for Earthborne Trucks and Equipment, the inaugural winner sent them a personal, handwritten thank-you and later visited the company, where he met many family members.
He graduated in May as a diesel technician and now works for Plasterer Equipment Co. Inc., a John Deere dealer in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where he says he hopes to become a “proficient diesel tech working on equipment and trucks” and someday advance to become a road tech, traveling to different construction sites.
Memorializing an Educator by Investing in the Future
Rick Taylor, the founder of Earthborne Trucks and Equipment in Warrington, Pennsylvania, was a lifelong educator who worked as a shop teacher at Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove before starting his own company in 1976. Even as a business owner, he continued to educate others.
After Taylor lost his fight with pancreatic cancer in 2019, his family looked for an opportunity to continue his legacy of education. They asked The AED Foundation to help set up a scholarship fund in Rick’s name to honor his commitment to education and continue his legacy of teaching future generations of technicians. The scholarship also keeps his memory alive.
Two scholarships to Pennsylvania College of Technology—an AED-accredited school in Williamsport, Pennsylvania—were set up in Taylor’s honor to do just that. These annual scholarships are available to students who have an educational focus in diesel or heavy equipment and live in one of the five counties surrounding Earthborne.
Initial funding for the scholarships came from donations made in Rick’s memory shortly after his death. The family reports that they received enough money to support the scholarship program for at least three to four years.
Schute’s award included $2,500 toward tuition for his last two semesters. He says it helped him avoid additional college debt. “To graduate college thinking that I don’t have much debt and I’ll be able to pay it off quickly feels good,” he says.
Investing in the Future through Education
Just as Rick Taylor worked until his last day to set up his business so his employees would have a place where they could continue to grow and be proud to come to work, now his family is carrying on with the same sense of purpose and dedication by working to help students grow and get the training they need so they, too, can find a place where they’re proud to work.
“It’s amazing to have the next generation of technicians coming up,” Sara exclaims. She says the entire family appreciates the opportunity to continue Rick’s legacy in such a positive way. “Zak is the absolute perfect person to be the first winner.”
Schute expressed gratitude for the scholarship and the family. He even worked at Earthborne briefly over the winter.
“I learned a lot from the time I was there. The company was very nice and generous. I am happy to be the first one to win this.”
He was the first, but he won’t be the last. Rick’s wife and two sons act as the board of directors. They read all the applications last year and selected the winner, and are currently going through this year’s applications in search of the next one. "Our family is proud to support the students in Rick's honor," Sara says.