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Tractor Safety Certification

4-H Youth Development provides Tractor and Machinery Certification for youth 14 years and older. This certification allows 14 and 15-year-olds to legally operate tractors and machinery while off the family farm. Farm safety awareness is a major focus.

Since 1969, the U.S. Department of Labor has declared many agricultural tasks to be hazardous to youth younger than 16. With certain exemptions, employment of youth under 16 for tasks that require operation of a tractor and machinery is illegal unless the youth are certified. By successfully completing this certification program, 14 and 15-year-old youth may legally operate farm tractors and powered machinery for hire which they otherwise would not be allowed to operate under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Hazardous Occupations Order in Agriculture.

Topics covered include general agricultural safety, tractor and equipment operation, and highway transportation. Students are certified after successfully passing a fifty-question written knowledge test and successfully passing both an operating skills test and a pre-op/driving test.

Each year, 4-H Educators partner with local experts to successfully certify 15-20 youth.  Partners include Clinton Tractor Company and Implement, New York Center for Agricultural Medicine & Health (NYCAMH), State Fire, U Dig NY, Bernard Kennett (Retired NYS Trooper), Erik Merrill (EMT), and NYS Department of Labor (DOL).  Clinton Tractor and NYS DOL are major sponsors of this event with Clinton Tractor providing facility, meals, equipment, and expertise, while NYS DOL provides grant money to help cover Educator expenses.  NYCAMH educates participants about on farm safety in many areas including confined spaces, pinch point, roll over, and animal handling to name a few.  State Fire teaches about different types of fires possible on a farm and what to do if there is one.  U Dig NY presents to participants on the process of what to do whenever digging needs to occur.  Retired Sgt Kennett gives the rules of the road including the proper use of Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs and what those operating farm machinery on the road can and can’t do.  Erik goes over basic first aid and CPR with attention to details that can potentially happen on a farm.

Youth working on tractor

Together with these partners, the 4-H Programs of Herkimer & Oneida Counties strive to educate our teen youth how to work safely and operate machinery safely on farms where they will be employed.

This 24 hour certification programs takes place annually over students’ winter break from high school. If you are interested in the program or know of a teen that would benefit from this certification, please contact Herkimer County 4-H at

Instructor putting sling on youth for demonstration
Youth using fire extinguisher on digital fire
Tractor with farm equipment with youth on it