Panhandle teens looking to get to work in local fields learned about tractor safety at a workshop at Legacy of the Plains on June 7.
The teens, who had previously earned a certificate for completing online tractor safety training through the Nebraska Extension and the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, have demonstrated their knowledge of tractor safety and complete an extensive test drive.
“The kids were trained online, they went through all kinds of online media and were tested on it,” said John Thomas, extension educator at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. “They have a certificate they bring to me that says they’ve completed it, and then they do the practice test.”
The teens were asked a series of tractor safety questions, including how to check oil and other fluid levels to look under the attached trailer for a sleeping dog before climbing into the seat.
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“I asked them all kinds of questions, things they might encounter on a farm. What if their employer asks them to do something dangerous, for example,” Thomas said. “The kid has to say, ‘Sorry, that’s dangerous, I respectfully can’t do that. We want kids to leave here feeling empowered to say that.
After correctly answering Thomas’s questions about tractor safety and operation, the teens were asked to hitch and unhitch a trailer to the tractor and drive the tractor, with the trailer hitched, through a standardized course. The course was laid out with orange cones for younger drivers to maneuver to demonstrate tight turns, and included a long section backing up from the tractor to a cone.
Tandon Bentley, 15, said he grew up driving tractors on the family farm and he hopes this tractor safety certificate will encourage his employer to let him drive for him. Bentley supported the tractor and trailer perfectly and said the hardest part was “mainly getting all the work in line”.
Thomas said: “A child can work on his own farm with his parents, but if a child goes to someone else’s farm, he needs this certificate to use tractors for the insurance of this guy.”
Thomas explained that by obtaining online and driving test completion certificates, along with a $25 application fee, 1-4 and 15-year-olds can legally operate mechanized equipment on employer farms.
Mandie Bentley, Tandon’s mother, said once he has obtained the Teen Tractor Safety Certificate, he can be added to a learner’s license.
“We’ll take the certificate to the DMV at the courthouse, they’ll scan it and add it to Tandon’s learner’s permit,” she said. “So that helps with your insurance and that means he can drive farm registered vehicles, but there are still regulations since he was 15. So that’s a big deal.”
Bentley and classmate Jay Peterson traded a punch when Thomas announced they had both passed the tractor driving test, mentioning that it never hurts to practice driving. backing up a trailer.
“The driving part was the most fun for the most part,” Bentley said. “I almost smoked a cone, though. I had to save him because I was about to crush him.
Nicole Heldt is a reporter for the Star-Herald and covers agriculture. She can be reached at 308-632-9044 or by email at [email protected]