By JOHN SCHMITZ
For the Capital Press
AURORA, Ore. -- Oregon State University may want to consider renaming its facility near here the Northwest Research and Extension Center and Tractor School.
"It was a huge success," OSU 4-H Extension agent Jan Williams said of the three-day Youth Tractor Safety and Certification Course. It drew 34 high school students, many of them non-farm kids, to the center.
About 30 students were on the waiting list.
Williams said the center intends to offer it annually, and possibly repeat it this summer.
"There hasn't been any tractor training in this area for years and years," said Williams. "When I found out there was a real need for it, I started to pull people together. I was very much supported by Mike Bondi (NWREC superintendent)."
Wynn Mayfield and his wife, Kathy, provided instruction at the event. They are ag instructors with the North Clackamas School District.
In addition to learning basic tractor maneuvers, students learned how to hitch up implements and perform basic maintenance.
Mayfield said farmers benefit the most from the tractor safety classes, as there are stiff fines for putting certain younger, untrained employees on tractors.
The short course, which emphasized tractor safety and featured classroom and hands-on training, was offered to youths ages 14 to 17 interested in applying for summer employment on farms. The cost was $40.
Marc Anderson, NWREC farm and facilities manager, helped organize the course. He said each student got to spend around two hours on several of the seven tractors on hand over the three days.
The largest tractor at the event was a 2012 Case 290, one of three donated by Ag West of Woodburn.
"(The Case 290) was the highlight of their whole week," Anderson said. Four NWREC tractors were also used.
Anderson said an advanced tractor class may be offered later this summer. It would let students operate a tractor in a field and include GPS training offered by Ag West.
Jacob Johnson, 16, of Sandy, said he took the course so he could drive tractor this summer at Richardson Nursery in Boring.
"It was really great. I learned a lot," Johnson said. During the course he drove five tractors, including the Case 290.
"The size intimidated me at first but it was pretty easy," he said.
Canby grower Pete Postlewait, owner of Postlewait Farms and Nature Fresh Farms, was hoping to get one of his high school employees in the class but it didn't work out. The young man must now travel 25 miles to McMinnville for training.
At the end of the course all 34 students who attended the course passed the tests and were certified.
For information on tractor safety regulations governing minor farm workers, go to arcweb.sos.state.or.us .
Once there, make the following series of clicks: Administrative Rules, Find Current Administrative Rules, numerically, 839, Div. 21. Then scroll down to chapter 839-021-0280 (Power Driven Farm Machinery).