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Tractor Safety Training for Teen Farm/Ranch Workers

By Brandy
VanDeWalle

Tractor Safety Training for Teen Farm/Ranch Workers
Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age 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.  
The most common cause of agricultural-related death in Nebraska is 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 & Hazardous Occupations Courses take place at 12 Nebraska locations this year for teens 14 or 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 are primary goals 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. 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.
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 8:00 A.M. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Training site locations, Site Coordinator contact numbers, and dates of training are as follows:
Training Site Location:
Fairgrounds, Geneva
Site Coordinator:
(402) 759-3712
Dates of Training:
May 22 & 23
Location:
Fairgrounds, Hastings
Coordinator:
(402) 461-7209
Dates of Training:
May 24 & 25
Location:
Fairgrounds, Kearney
Coordinator:
(308) 236-1235
Dates of Training:
May 29 & 30
Location:
Fairgrounds, Auburn
Coordinator:
(402) 274-4755
Dates of Training:
May 31 & June 1
Location:
Evangelical Free, Ainsworth
Coordinator:
(402) 387-2213
Dates of Training:
June 5 & 6
Location:
Plains Equipment, O’Neill
Coordinator:
(402) 336-2760
Dates of Training:
June 7 & 8
Location:
WCREC, North Platte
Coordinator:
(308) 532-2683
Dates of Training:
June 12 & 13
Location:
Fairgrounds, Wayne
Coordinator:
(402) 375-3310
Dates of Training:
June 19 & 20
Location:
Fairgrounds, Gordon
Coordinator:
(308) 327-2312
Dates of Training:
June 21 (Day 1 online)
Location:
Fairgrounds, McCook
Coordinator:
(308) 345-3390
Dates of Training:
June 22 (Day 1 online)
Location:
Fairgrounds, Weeping Water
Coordinator:
(402) 267-2205
Dates of Training:
June 29 & 30
Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches. Print and complete a registration found at kearney.unl.edu, and submit with payment to the appropriate Extension office location at least one week before the course (call the specific location number listed above for mailing address and instructions).