Tractor safety training pulls into town

By Joseph Olmo

The DeKalb County Farm Bureau will host its second tractor safety school starting next weekend.

The class will take place on Feb. 18-19 and March 4-5 at the Farm Bureau Center, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore. This is the first class since 2008 for the county area and registration is closed.

Mariam Wassmann, DeKalb County Farm Bureau director of information, said this year’s class has had a high turnout.

“We have a full class of 24 this year,” Wassmann said. “We’re trying to offer this course every other year, but last year we didn’t have enough kids participating.”

The class must have a minimum of 10 participants to continue, Wassmann said.

“There are limiting factors [for the class],” Wassmann said. “The majority of participants are 14 to 15 and must intend to work on a farm.”

According to a press release from the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, current law states youths 16 years and older who are employed in agriculture do not need to be certified. Those who are 14 to 15 years old are required to be certified if they are employed in agriculture. The law does not apply to youths working on their immediate family’s farm.

“There is a lot to know,” Wassmann said. “We will be promoting safety and showing how to operate the machines safely.”

Teenagers participating in the class come from almost every town in DeKalb County, Wassmann said.

Amy Rademaker, farm safety specialist, is from Champaign and is one of the three certified instructors who will be in charge of the classes.

“This has been around for years,” Rademaker said. “The law went into effect in 1968.”

Rademaker said teens working on the farm spend the majority of the their time on tractors.

“Fifty percent of deaths on farms come from tractors and overturns,” Rademaker said. “We’re going to have demonstrations with overturns, and teach [youth] how to protect against the sun and chemicals. We’re going to go beyond tractors.”

For a teenager to become certified they must pass a written, skills and driving test, Rademaker said.