Teenagers ages 14 and 15 will be given the chance this summer to take a tractor safety course with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.
The course is designed to teach teens working on farms to safely handle dangerous farm equipment and prevent injuries.
According to UNL Extension, approximately 300 juveniles are injured in farm accidents each year, but that number has been shrinking and UNL Extension educator Mark Hinze says he thinks the tractor safety course is one of the reasons that number is shrinking.
"The instruction gives youth a chance to learn about and respect the tools, to be aware of what not to do," Hinze said. "Even the drawstrings on a sweatshirt can be a threat."
The first day of the course consists of classroom study covering mechanical, safety and handling aspects of farm equipment. Instructors also show a video of farm accidents to demonstrate the risks of unsafe behavior.
Students who pass the exam at the end of the first day move on to a certified driving course for the tractor they will be operating. This hands-on training will teach students about making wide turns and driving into and backing out of spots with a trailer attached. Students will hook up a power shaft and check for hydraulic leaks.
Teens who take the course will also be exempted from the federal law prohibiting them from working on farms other than their parents'.
The seven classes this year will be held:
- May 23 and 24, fairgrounds, Kearney
- May 29 and 30, UNL Haskell Agricultural Lab at Concord
- June 3 and 4, Farm and Ranch Museum, Gering
- June 6 and 7, fairgrounds, Valentine
- June 10 and 11, fairgrounds, Osceola
- June 13 and 14, UNL West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte
- June 16 and 17, College Park, Grand Island
It is recommended to pre-register for classes at least one week in advance. The $60 cost of the course covers classroom materials, testing, meals and other supplies. Contact your local UNL Extension office to register.