This country is home to around three million hardworking farmers. As a state that thrives on the farming industry (approximately 13 million acres are dedicated to farmland), Kentucky understands precisely how important it is to keep the tradition going by teaching the younger generations.
Reviving The Past
In the past, teenagers could attend what was then called Tractor School, a program that sought to teach farm kids and indeed any youth how to operate farm tools in a safe and effective manner. Although the program had been disbanded, Steve Fuqua, a resident of Sorgho and graduate of Tractor School in his youth, decided to revive it under a new name: AgPower Club.
“I just got to the point in life where I could do it,” said Fuqua, who’s the volunteer AgPower leader. “I have two boys who might learn a little something from it. I got to talking to extension agent Stacey (Potts) about it and I figured, well if I want to see this go again, I’m going to have to do it. So, here we are.”
An Important Lesson
Farm equipment varies greatly, both in size and function, so the AgPower team certainly has their work cut out for them; their most recent meeting covered the details of tractor and combine safety — two very dangerous machines if operated without the proper knowledge. When most people think about vehicle accidents, they picture the three million people that are injured in car crashes every year; however, farm equipment can be equally as threatening. Tractor accidents are actually the leading cause of death and injury among farmers and farm workers, causing an average of 130 deaths every year.
Safety is the most important aspect of any career — especially for seniors. Falls are the number one cause of death for adults 65 and older. When you consider the fact that many tractors are outfitted with forklifts (which make lifting hay bales, animal feed, fencing materials, equipment parts, and seed a heck of a lot easier), the risk increases exponentially. Most forklifts are designed to carry weights between one and five tons; if the person operating their machine doesn’t know what they’re doing, someone could get seriously hurt.
“It’s great for the kids and farming is a huge part of this community,” said Grant Hagan, an HandR Agri-Power salesman and one of its teachers. “And anytime you can get more kids involved and understand how it all works, it’s always a good thing.”
Although the group only held its first meeting in February, its members are very excited about the future. The AgPower Club is just one of several programs that fall under the region’s 4-H umbrella, a nationwide initiative designed to educate and empower young people. Thanks to the efforts of Fuqua, 15 kids have already joined his program — and more are sure to come.