Teens 14-15 years of age who work on farms, or others interested in learning about tractor and farm equipment safety practices, can register for safety training offered in North Platte and six other locations across Nebraska from May 22-June 8.

The course is 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.

On the first day, students will attend a hands-on event at either North Platte or Grand Island, or online through the Extension Foundation Campus website. The North Platte session will be May 22 and the Grand Island session on May 30. After the hands-on event or online course and testing, the required driving test will be offered at seven locations across the state from May 23-June 8.

Federal law prohibits children under the age of 16 from using specific equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course allows an exemption to the law, so 14- and 15-year-olds can drive a tractor and do field work with specific mechanized equipment.

Aaron Yoder, PhD, associate professor at the UNMC College of Public Health, said overturned tractors and ATVs, as well as equipment entanglements, are a common cause of agricultural-related injuries and deaths in Nebraska. Yoder said the course trains students to avoid these incidents and many other hazards on the farm and ranch.

The hands-on event and the online course will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Students must pass a quiz to move on. If they do, they will attend the driver training. Once a student is registered, coordinators will send instructions, materials, course paperwork and a link to the online course if students do not attend one of the two hands-on events.

The onsite driving 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 through a standardized course. Instructors also will offer education on emergency preparedness, personal protective equipment, and safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles (UTVs) and other off-road vehicles (ORVs).

Instructors for the course are members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health: Aaron Yoder, PhD, Ellen Duysen, Risto Rautiainen, PhD, and graduate student Sarah Tucker; and Nebraska Extension educators Randy Saner, Ron Seymour and John Thomas.

The course costs $35 and includes educational materials and supplies. Participants can pay at the time of registration or before the driving exam. Only checks and cash are accepted.

Hands-on training, driving dates, site locations and site coordinator contact information are below.

Hands-On Safety Days (If not attending a Hands-On Safety Day, online course must be completed).

  • May 22 – Lincoln Logan McPherson County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd., North Platte, Nebraska

Contacts: Randy Saner (randy.saner@unl.edu) and Vicki Neidhardt (vicki.neidhardt@unl.edu) at 308.532.2683

  • May 30 – Raising Nebraska, 501 East Fonner Park Rd., Grand Island

Contacts: Randy Saner (randy.saner@unl.edu) and Vicki Neidhardt (vicki.neidhardt@unl.edu) at 308.532.2683

Tractor driving days

  • May 23 – Lincoln Logan McPherson County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd., North Platte

Contacts: Randy Saner (randy.saner@unl.edu) and Vicki Neidhardt (vicki.neidhardt@unl.edu) at 308.532.2683

  • May 31 – Raising Nebraska, 501 East Fonner Park Rd., Grand Island

Contacts: Randy Saner (randy.saner@unl.edu) and Vicki Neidhardt (vicki.neidhardt@unl.edu) at 308.532.2683

  • June 1 – Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail, Gering

Contacts: John Thomas (jthomas2@unl.edu) or Stacy Brown (sbrown7@unl.edu) at 308.632.1480

  • June 2 – AKRS Equipment, 49110 US Hwy 20 in O’Neill

Contact: Debra Walnofer (dwalnofer2@unl.edu) at 402.336.2760

  • June 6 – Adams County Extension, 2975 South Baltimore Ave., Hastings

Contact: Ron Seymour (ron.seymour@unl.edu) at 402.461.7209

  • June 7 – Cuming County Fairgrounds, W. Washington St., West Point

Contact: Mary Jo Lueckenhoff (mlueckenhoff1@unl.edu) or Melissa Hagemeister (mhagemeister5@unl.edu) at 402.372.6006

  • June 8 – Cass County Fairgrounds, 8400 144th St., Weeping Water

Contact: Sandy Prall (sprall2@unl.edu) at 402.267.2205

Registration form located here: https://go.unl.edu/2023tractorsafety

If you have questions, contact the administrator listed above at your driving site or Ellen Duysen at ellen.duysen@unmc.edu.

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