Does your child, age 14-15, work on a farm or acreage nearby? Or do you employ a young person on your farm or acreage?
If the answer is yes, this little-known information is vital. 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 to do field 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.
Tractor Safety Training
Nebraska Extension’s Tractor Safety & Hazardous Occupations Courses takes place at various 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.
Instructors for the course include staff members of Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health: Aaron Yoder, Ellen Duysen, Daniel Kent, and UNMC student Lucy Finocchiaro.
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.
Class Schedule, Dates and Locations
All on-site classes begin at 8:00 A.M. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Dates, locations, and Site Coordinator phone numbers are as follows:
- June 5 & 6 - Evangelical Free Church, Ainsworth (402) 387-2213
- June 7 & 8 - Plains Equipment, O'Neill (402) 336-2760
- June 12 & 13 - Nebraska Extension West Central Research & Extension Center, North Platte (308) 532-2683
- June 6 & 7 – Valentine Fairgrounds (402) 376-1850
- June 12 & 13 – North Platte West Central Research and Extension Center (308) 532-2683
- June 14 & 15 – Gering Legacy Museum (308) 632-1480
- June 19 & 20 – Wayne Fairgrounds (402) 375-3310
- June 21 (Day 1 online) – Gordon Fairgrounds (308) 327-2312
- June 22 (Day 1 online) – McCook Fairgrounds (308) 345-3390
- June 29 & 30 – Weeping Water Fairgrounds (402) 267-2205
Submit a Tractor Safety Registration Form to the Extension office location that participants will attend at least one week before the course. Call the specific location number listed above with any questions.
Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches.