Local teens get tractor certified

Gale Rose
Leo Egging drives a Kubota tractor onto a Pratt Community College road as he completes the tractor driving portion of the PCC Tractor Safety Training Day on April 26. Ralph Williams, PCC Ag Power instructor, supervises the test. Kincheloes' of Pratt loaned the Kubota while BTI and Straub International also loaned tractors for the event.

It was a long day of classes and written and practical driving tests at the annual Pratt Community College Tractor Safety Training Day April 26 at PCC.

Every year, PCC, in conjunction with K-State Extension, hosts a day-long training and testing event for students between 14 and 16 years of age who want to work on a farm during the summer on property other than their family. If the teens are working on their own family farm, the training is not required. But, if the teen is working for a relative on a farm than their own, they have to have this training certification, said Pratt County Extension Agent Vicki Simonsen.

Sometimes, if a person is over 16, an employer may have them take the training course just for safety, Simonsen said.

There were 38 students from nine Kansas Counties, including 14 students from Pratt County and one from Oklahoma, who participated in the event.

Farming requires lots of equipment. This training is designed to teach teens how to maintain and safely operate this equipment, Simonsen said.

Students are given a series of lessons about all elements of farming, especially about tractor operation, that most of the students will do at their summer job on the farm.

Ralph Williams, PCC Ag power instructor, presented the lessons for the event, covering topics like safe operations of tractors, PTO, anhydrous ammonia, power steering, combines, grain suffocation, shields and more.

“Students have to learn responsibility and respect for their equipment,” Williams said.

Also making presentations were Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White who presented safety operation of ATV and all 4-wheelers. Kiowa County Fire Chief Jay Koehn shared information on the three types of fires: Trash-paper; fuel-gas, oil; electrical and how to put out each type of fire.

Students then had to pass two tests before they received a completion card that allows them to take part in the driving portion of the day where students actually drive new tractors. They put the tractor through a series of maneuvers and have to pass this test to be certified.

The state requires this certification before the students can operate a tractor on a farm other than their own. Sometimes, parents will have their children take the course for safety even if they are driving on their own farm, said Kiowa County Extension Agent Wade Reh said.

The results of the tests are sent to K-State Extension. A copy also goes to the employer and the student gets a copy. Students can take the test before they turn 14 but can’t work until they have their 14th birthday. Extension keeps the certificates until the student turns 14, Simonsen said.

Tractors for the event were provided by BTI Pratt, Kincheloe’s of Pratt and Straub International. The training session lasted all day Saturday.