Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms, or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices, are encouraged to register for this summer’s tractor safety training course, sponsored by the University of Nebraska Extension and the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.
The course will be held in early June at five sites across Nebraska.
Students will complete the first day of the course online. After successfully completing the online course and testing, the required driving test will be offered in-person, with COVID-19 safety precautions, at five locations across Nebraska June 7-11.
Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and do field work with certain mechanized equipment.
Susan Harris, University of Nebraska Extension educator, said a common cause of agricultural-related injuries and deaths in Nebraska is overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles. The course is designed to train students how to avoid such incidents, as well as many other farm and ranch hazards.
The online course will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program, including quizzes which students must pass to attend the driving portion of training. Once a student is registered, they will be sent a training manual, course paperwork and a link to the online course.
The onsite driving training and exam will include a driving test, equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer. Instructors also will offer education about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles and other off-road vehicles.
Due to COVID-19, the number of students on-site will be limited. Students and instructors are required to wear a mask, which will be provided, at all times during instruction and driving, as well as maintain proper social distance. Equipment, steering wheels, control knobs and hitches will be disinfected before and after each student completes testing. Students who have had a fever or persistent cough within 10 days of testing will be required to reschedule their driving test. Additional driving tests may be added later in the summer to accommodate students who are unable to attend the scheduled training.
Course istructors are members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health – Aaron Yoder, PhD, Ellen Duysen and Risto Rautiainen, PhD – and Nebraska Extension educators – Troy Ingram, Randy Saner and John Thomas.
Cost of the hybrid course is $40 and includes educational materials, the online learning link and supplies. More information and registration can be found at kearney.unl.edu under “Educational Programs,” then click “Tractor Safety” or contact the appropriate contact below.
Driving dates, Nebraska locations and site coordinator contact information is below.
June 7 – Akrs Equipment, 49110 US Hwy 20 in O’Neill; contact Debra Walnofer, 402.336.2760, email@example.com
June 8 – Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail #8500 in Gering; contact Stacy Brown, 308.632.1480, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 9 – West Central Research & Extension Center, 402 West State Farm Rd., North Platte; contact Randy Saner or Vicki Neidhardt 308.532.2683, email@example.com
June 10 – Hall County Extension, 3180 W. Hwy 34, Grand Island; contact Crystal Beissenherz, 308.385.5088, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 11 – Cass County Fairgrounds, 8420 144th St., Weeping Water; contact Sandy Prall, 402.267.2205, email@example.com
Extension is a division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln cooperating with counties and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.