The students will receive virtual and hands-on training
By Diego Flammini
A university is offering a tractor safety course to teenagers interested in working on farms.
The University of Maine (UMaine) Cooperative Extension’s course for 14- and 15-year-olds starts April 14 and runs through May 5. Applications are due April 4.
The course will focus on multiple topics, said Jason Lilley, sustainable agriculture professional with UMaine extension.
“We start out with understanding some of the risk and the level of risk with different activities on the farm in general,” he told Farms.com. “We talk about equipment safety, the risks of different sizes of equipment, implementing different types of practices around the farm and how age can play into that.”
Age can play a factor when it comes to equipment safety.
Teenagers, especially boys, have a feeling of invincibility which can lead to injury, Lilley said.
“There’s a level of experience that’s important when operating complex equipment in order to maintain safety,” he said. “We get a level of bravado that comes with teenage boys that nothing bad can happen to them and their reaction time will be fast enough to prevent accidents from happening. We try to teach them how fast accidents can happen and to be prepared.”
The course is also beneficial to youth wanting to work on a farm not owned by a member of their family.
Under state law, any youth wanting to operate equipment on a non-family farm must successfully complete the course, which is recognized by the department of labor.
“This curriculum has been put together by the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program,” Lilley said.
The safety course starts April 14. Virtual learning will take place from 6pm to 7pm.
In-person tractor practice is set for May 1 and May 8, with a May 15 rain date. These sessions will take place at Gorham Public Works in Gorham, Me., and Kennebec Valley Community College in Hinckley, Me.