Coletta Weeda, Crawford County Extension Education Director
Agriculture can be one of the most dangerous occupations, especially when youth are working with large equipment. The Department of Labor has also recognized youth employed in agriculture performing certain tasks pose an unacceptable risk. Youth 14 to 16 years of age must receive proper training to receive a tractor and machinery certification enabling them to be employed in agricultural jobs. Producers in Crawford County are beginning to ask youth if they have received certification before hiring them to help work with agricultural equipment.
Crawford County ISU Extension visited with a local agriculture instructor about attending a train the trainer summit in December 2004 for Tractor and Machinery Certification. The Crawford County Extension Council agreed to cover his expenses to attend. He attended the training where he gained information about Federal requirements and history of the tractor certification program along with valuable resources.
In March 2006, twenty youth signed up for Tractor and Machinery Certification. Five of the youth were female who will help on their own farms so parents wanted them to learn how to work with equipment correctly. The youth completed four evenings of educational training in the classroom, where they viewed videos, had hands-on internet activities and workbook exercises. The instructor, hired by Crawford County ISU Extension, recruited other area agriculture instructors, producers and past participants to help with the Saturday practice driving activities. The instructor approached two local farm implement dealers to donate tractors, wagon, mower, and combine so youth had the opportunity to practice with different pieces of farm equipment. Five different stations were set up so they were able to learn about checking out equipment before starting the equipment, to back wagons into a tight area and navigate tight turns appropriately.
Having our instructor attend the train the trainer summit was extremely effective. He gained information about resources from Hobar, Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn/Ohio which helped to meet the 24-hour training requirement for youth.
Youth reported learning how to avoid risky behaviors from attending Tractor and Machinery Certification. Individuals reported changing their attitude about the power of machinery, ignoring safety details on the farm, working with tractors and road rage drivers. One individual said his attitude about how easy driving a tractor is changed----driving a tractor takes more responsibility than he thought before taking the class. Another youth said the most important thing he gained was not to think It cant happen to me.
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August 3, 2007
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