UNL CropWatch April 23, 2010: Extension Tractor/Farm Safety Courses Tailored to Teens

UNL CropWatch April 23, 2010: Extension Tractor/Farm Safety Courses Tailored to Teens

April 23, 2010

Teenagers wanting to work on a farm other than their parents will need to attend one of the UNL Extension Tractor/Farm Safety Courses to be offered this May and June.

Federal law prohibits youths under 16 years of age from working on a farm other than their parents'. Course completion grants an exemption to the law and allows 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and do field work with mechanized equipment. If room permits, the course also can be taken for safety training.

The most common cause of death in agriculture accidents in Nebraska is when tractors and all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs) are overturned, said Bill Booker, UNL Extension educator in Box Butte County. Tractor and ATV overturn prevention are featured in the class work.

"There is an obligation to teach safety, and these courses allow us to do that," Booker said. "These classes will teach respect for the job and the tools involved."

Class Topics

The first day of class will consist of intensive classroom instruction with hands-on learning and a written test that must be completed satisfactorily before the student may take the driving tests the next day. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. The program was developed to offer this exemption training. Homework will be assigned and must be turned in the next day.

The second day will consist of testing, driving, and machinery operation. Students will have to demonstrate competence in hooking up and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course. They also will have to hook up PTO and hydraulic systems.

Classes consist of two 8-hour days plus two 4-hour homework assignments. Classes are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. An optional third day of training is available for ATV safety.

Students must be at least 14 years old on the test date to take the skills and driving tests. If space permits, those under 14 years can attend the educational classes and take the written test but will not be allowed to operate tractors or other equipment or take the driving test.

Course Schedule and Pre-registration

To standardize training, courses locations were consolidated this year and classes will be held at seven regional sites.

  • May 26-27, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Scottsbluff
  • June 1-2, West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte
  • June 4-5, Fairgrounds, Kearney
  • June 8-9, Tractor Test Lab, UNL East Campus, Lincoln
  • June 11-12, Northeast Research and Extension Center, Norfolk
  • June 15-16, Niobrara Valley Equipment, Ainsworth
  • June 22-23, Southeast Research and Extension Center at the Agriculture Research and Development Center, near Mead

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged two weeks before a course start date. Cost is $60 to cover expenses.

For more information, contact Extension Educators Bill Booker at (308) 762-5616, wbooker2@unl.edu, or Sharry Nielsen at (308) 832-0645, snielsen1@unl.edu, or the UNL Extension office in the host county. To register, call (308) 762-5616.

Sandi Alswager Karstens