Tractor Safety Training Courses for Teen Farm/Ranch Workers

Youth watching a safety demonstration during Nebraska Extension’s Tractor Safety and Hazardous Occupations Course at Gering in 2018.
Figure 1. Youth watching a safety demonstration during Nebraska Extension’s Tractor Safety and Hazardous Occupations Course at Gering in 2018.

Tractor Safety Training Courses for Teen Farm/Ranch Workers

Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years from using specific equipment on a farm unless parents or legal guardians own the farm. Certification received through a course provided by Nebraska Extension grants an exemption to the law, allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and work with certain mechanized equipment.

Two youth practicing proper connection procedures for a tractor PTO drive.
Figure 2. Two youth practice proper connection and disconnection procedures for a tractor PTO drive.

The most common causes of agricultural-related death in Nebraska are overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Employing anyone uncertified under age 16 is a liability risk for farmers if those children operate such equipment.

Nebraska Extension’s Tractor Safety and Hazardous Occupations Courses will be offered at 12 sites this year for teens 14 to 15 years of age who will work on a farm. Anyone older than 15 is also welcome to attend, but those under age 14 are not eligible to take the class. Extensive training on tractor and ATV safety occurs during in-class lessons with hands-on activities. Instilling an attitude of safety and a respect for agricultural equipment is the primary goal of the course.

The first day of classroom instruction includes hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Students are required to pass the test before taking the driving test on day two. The second day will include a physical driving test with equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. To receive certification, students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course. In most locations, instructors will offer an ATV simulator experience to learn about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs and UTVs. Students will also complete homework assignments for the second day.

Instructors for the course include staff members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health: Aaron Yoder, Ellen Duysen, Daniel Kent, and UNMC student Jill Oatman.

Two locations, Gordon and McCook, will offer online course instruction to replace the first day of the two-day course. Students complete this at their convenience before attending the driving component of the course on-site.

All on-site classes begin at 8 a.m. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches.

To register, print and complete a registration form found at, and submit with payment to the appropriate site coordinator at least one week before the course. (Call the location number listed for mailing address and instructions.)

Locations of 2019 Tractor Safety Training Courses
Training SiteSite CoordinatorDates of Training
Geneva, Fairgrounds (402) 759-3712 May 20-21
Nelson, Fairgrounds (402) 225-2092 May 22-23
Grand Island, Extension Office (308) 385-5088 May 28-29
Kearney, Extension Office (308) 236-1235 May 30-31
Gordon, Fairgrounds (308) 327-2312 June 4 (Day 1 online)
McCook, Fairgrounds (308) 345-3390 June 5 (Day 1 online)
Ainsworth, Evangelical Free Church (402) 387-2213 June 6-7
O’Neill, Plains Equipment (402) 336-2760 June 11-12
North Platte, UNL West Central REC (308) 532-2683 June 13-14
Gering, Legacy Museum (308) 632-1480 June 18-19
Wayne, Fairgrounds (402) 375-3310 June 20-21
Weeping Water, Fairgrounds (402) 267-2205 July 1-2

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