Farm Talk on the Front Porch
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Give teenagers appropriate tasks and training on the farm
Apr 17, 2014
To ensure a good experience for you and the teenagers working on your farm, Grinnell Mutual encourages you to take time to train them. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), teens respond best to hands-on training.
Keys to working with teenagers
"Many farmers hire teenagers who live in town," said Vicky Hartgers, farm claims manager at Grinnell Mutual. "Often these teens do not have an agriculture background or a knowledge of agriculture. They aren’t aware of the risks around them on the farm."
When you train teenagers, don’t talk at them, interact with them. Use the tools and equipment, emphasizing key points. Model the behaviors you want to see in the teens working on your farm, especially awareness of the surroundings, respect and patience.
"Extra awareness—that’s the biggest thing to teach teens," said Hartgers. "Be aware of the unpredictability of animals when they are cornered or in a close situation. Teenagers not familiar with agriculture surroundings may think they can load bales of hay, but they may not know to account for a ditch or a hole in a rough field."
Demonstrate how to perform a task and then watch them perform the task. Correct mistakes and review proper procedures as needed. Seek feedback from them and ask questions. Avoid making value judgments about teens and accept that teenagers may give you little direct eye contact— it’s not a lack of respect. Train long enough to prepare them for the work and document the training in writing.
"Take the extra time," said Hartgers. "Teenagers unfamiliar with agriculture may need more guidance at the beginning because they don’t understand the things that can go wrong. Have a training period where they work with someone who shows them the risks that are involved."
Grinnell Mutual recommends the following age-appropriate farm tasks for teenagers:
Age appropriate tasks: Ages 12-13
- Hand raking and digging
- Limited power tool use with supervision
- Operating lawn mower or garden tractor
- Handling or assisting with grooming animals
- Maintaining equipment
- Feeding livestock by hand
- Raking hay
- Operating a pressure washer
With specific training and close supervision, older teens may also be able to pull oversized loads and apply chemicals
For more information
Visit "Preventing Losses" on Grinnell Mutual’s website, grinnellmutual.com, for more than 30 safety talks you can share with your farm workers. To learn more about training teenagers to help on the farm, click here for information from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS).