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Choose age-appropriate tasks for farm youthChoose age-appropriate tasks for farm youth

The community health director for AgriSafe Network shares her insights into farm safety during harvest season.

Curt Arens

September 23, 2022

1 Min Read
Visitors at 2022 Husker Harvest Days with flag lined street
KEEP THEM SAFE: Choosing age-appropriate tasks and providing proper training and supervision is all part of keeping youth safe on the farm. Kevin Schulz

Every year we hear the statistics. Children are often at risk of accidents on the farm, and these are statistics we never want to see.

Choosing the right farm tasks for youth of every age is crucial to their safety. While no set of guidelines is foolproof, there are safety measures and tips to keep kids safe on the farm and ranch.

Here is a checklist of safety precautions and concerns of special note to Linda Emanuel, registered nurse and AgriSafe Network community health director in Nebraska:

  • Are youth assigned farm tasks or chores appropriate for their age and ability?

  • When a youth is working, is an adult providing adequate supervision, based on the youth’s age, ability and the task?

  • Does an adult train youth on how to do a task safely, and demonstrate the task before having them attempt it?

  • Are youth encouraged to ask questions when unsure about how to perform a task or address a hazard?

  • Does an adult check the work area, ensure it is free from as many hazards as possible, and teach youth how to avoid and address remaining hazards?

There are many resources available to help youth stay safe while completing farm tasks. As for deciding if a task is age-appropriate, Emanuel suggests, “Just going by your gut instinct, if you paused to wonder if it is safe for their age, it probably is not.”

List of resources

Here is a partial list of resources to check out:

  • Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines broken out by ages and developed by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety and the National Farm Medicine Center can be found at cultivatesafety.org.

  • A complete safety checklist is available at umash.umn.edu.

Learn more by emailing Emanuel at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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