4-H Tractor Operator Program offered in Cass County during February 2020

The 4-H Tractor Operator Program is offered in Cass County in February 2020 and is open to 14-to-19-year-olds in Cass and surrounding counties.


Farm life is an everyday experience for the approximately 893,000 youth (2014 data) who grow up on farms in the U.S. Another 265,600 youth were also hired in agriculture in 2014. These data were taken from the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety's "2018 Fact Sheet of Childhood Agricultural Injuries in the U.S." For those who live and work in agriculture, it is well understood that there are inherent dangers involved with day-to-day farm operations.

Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related accident, and an additional 33 children are injured each day in on-farm accidents. The number of fatalities in agriculture production was over 20 times higher on average than in all other industries combined between 2001 and 2015. The most common fatal events involved tractors and ATVs. A healthy respect for the dangers of farm equipment is critical, and education and training are vital in ensuring the safety of youth working in agriculture.

Michigan State University Extension and the Cass County 4-H and St. Joseph County 4-H programs are offering the 20204-H Tractor Operator Program through 4-H Youth Development. Successful completion of the 4-H Tractor Operator Program provides a certificate of training from the U.S. Department of Labor required for operation of a 20 PTO horsepower or greater, garden or agricultural tractor by 14 through 19 year old youth employed on property not owned, leased or operated by a parent or legal guardian. Certification is also utilized by youth who exhibit and participate in local contests, parades and festival activities.

The three-week course will be taught on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 1–15, 2020 at the First Baptist Church-Newberg, 13021 Born St., Jones, MI 49061. This schedule includes educational sessions, some driving practice, written and driving tests and graduation. We require a minimum of 24 hours of instruction and participants must be 14 years of age by the date of the driving test to be eligible for federal certification. Attendance at all sessions is required for successful completion of the course.

Graphic on tractor safety

Educational topics include: farm/ranch hazards and safety, tractor component basics, preoperational procedures, operation basics, tractor-powered implements, self-propelled agricultural equipment, operating on public roadways, basic maintenance and repair, ATV/utility vehicle safety, first aid and emergencies. The 4-H Tractor Operator Program is a major investment of time, but is one of the most valuable experiences we offer that teaches young people safety and job skills to last a lifetime.

Cost for the 4-H Tractor Operator Program is $25 for current 4-H members and $45 for non-members. Course fee includes lunch and snacks each day. Due to the generous sponsorship of this program by Midwest Energy and Communications, $15 will be refunded upon successful completion of the course.

The course will run if the minimum number of participants have registered. Participants must make payment in full (cash or check) at the Cass County or St. Joseph County MSU Extension office and submit all completed paperwork by Jan. 23, 2020 to be registered. Class size is limited to 15 students, so register early!

Questions may be directed to 4-H coordinators Hailey Harman (269-445-4438, harmanha@msu.edu) or Eva Beeker (269-467-5512, beekere@msu.edu).

Persons with disabilities may request accommodations by calling the Cass County (269-445-4438) or St. Joseph County (269-467-5521) MSU Extension office by Jan. 24, 2020 to ensure sufficient time to make arrangements. Requests received after this date will be met when possible.

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