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Ag majors teach farm safety course for teens

On four weekends in late March and early April, Dordt’s agriculture department, in cooperation with the local community hospital, an organization called Agri-Safe, and the Sioux County Extension Service, offered a Tractor and Machinery Safe Operation course for fourteen-to-fifteen-year-olds as a community service project. The course was run by students in the Agriculture 105 class, mostly composed of freshmen, and provided certification to younger students so that they could legally be employed to work on a farm operating agricultural equipment.

The Dordt students acted as instructors, giving classroom presentations for the first two sessions, which took place at Dordt’s Agriculture Stewardship Center. In the last two sessions, Dordt ag majors and their younger students went to Sioux-Lyon County Implement to operate equipment such as combines, tractors, windrowers, and skid loaders. The younger students learned how to use the equipment both efficiently and safely. At the end of the course, the students had to take and pass a test before they could be certified. Though the fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds benefited by receiving their certification, Professor Duane Bajema of Dordt’s agriculture department believes the Dordt students benefited as well. In order to teach it, agriculture students had to know the material well. “They were providing a service to the community as well,” Bajema says. “I was very proud of my students. Most of them were freshmen and seeing them take on the responsibility of performing a task well was an encouragement to me and to them.”