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Bad weather forced a change of venue to Canby for a tractor training class

by: RAY HUGHEY - Canby's Logan Wood works through the cone course during testing.It was wet and muddy during tractor training at the OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center near Aurora last week.

by: HUGHEYI - Silverton's Audrey Anderson hooks up a fertilizer spreader to her tractor.By Friday, the program decided to pull up stakes and head for cover – the Clackamas County Event Center.

The Youth Tractor Safety Training and Certification program went on, despite the weather. Intense periods of rain, wind, plus sunshine made interesting conditions for the young drivers, ages 14-17.

The NWREC, in conjunction with the OSU’s 4-H program in Clackamas County, sponsor the training and certification program each year.

“We enroll 20 youth per class and offer the program based on demand,” said Mike Bondi, regional extension administrator and director at NWREC.

The three-day, 24-hour training — and subsequent certification, if the student passes written and driving tests — provides the attendees with the credentials needed to be employed on farms and operate equipment.

The spring break training conditions were less than ideal, said Bondi.

The rains arrived and the conditions just got worse.

“The pouring rain made it really difficult for the kids to operate and stay focused,” said certification instructor Andrea Leao. “At some point, everyone was pretty soaked, but being outside and driving is an essential part of the training.”

And, it was muddy, too, said Bondi. Attendees learn the basic features of tractors and how they work, safe driving and operating procedures, hooking three point hitches and trailers, and backing equipment.

It all led to Friday’s session at the event center in Canby, so the driving could be done in a covered arena area and get the youth out of the weather conditions.

“We wanted the students to be able to fairly demonstrate their knowledge and skills and not be hampered by the weather,” said Leao. “It’s important that they get these skills right.”

Another class for youth drivers will be held later in the spring or early summer.