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 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.
Nebraska Extension’s Tractor Safety & Hazardous Occupations Courses take place at 12 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.
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. All on-site classes begin at 8:00 A.M. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Training site locations, Site Coordinator contact numbers, and dates of training are as follows:
Training Site Location Site Coordinator Dates of Training
- Fairgrounds, Geneva (402) 759-3712 May 22 & 23
- Fairgrounds, Hastings (402) 461-7209 May 24 & 25
- Fairgrounds, Kearney (308) 236-1235 May 29 & 30
- Fairgrounds, Auburn (402) 274-4755 May 31 & June 1
- Evangelical Free, Ainsworth (402) 387-2213 June 5 & 6
- Plains Equipment, O’Neill (402) 336-2760 June 7 & 8
- WCREC, North Platte (308) 532-2683 June 12 & 13
- Fairgrounds, Wayne (402) 375-3310 June 19 & 20
- Fairgrounds, Gordon (308) 327-2312 June 21 (Day 1 online)
- Fairgrounds, McCook (308) 345-3390 June 22 (Day 1 online)
- Fairgrounds, Weeping Water (402) 267-2205 June 29 & 30
Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches. Print and complete a registration and submit with payment to the appropriate Extension office location at least one week before the course (call the specific location number listed above for mailing address and instructions).