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Photo of Secretary Kuperus and Adam Wainwright - Click to enlarge
Burlington County High School Teaches Tractor and Equipment Safety
For Immediate Release: March 15, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – As farmers throughout New Jersey gear up for the 2007 growing season, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today stressed the importance of following proper safety procedures while operating farm equipment.

Kuperus visited the Middle School and High School Agricultural Education Programs at Northern Burlington County Regional School District, where safety lessons for students are a prominent part of instruction. 

“Farm accident deaths among teenagers and children are highly preventable,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Agricultural Education programs all across the state teach young people the proper way to operate what can be very dangerous machinery if not handled correctly. As farmers of all ages prepare for the beginning of another growing season, it is important to remember that farm safety training and awareness will prevent injuries and may even save lives."

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports there are 600 farm-related fatalities and 200,000 farm-related injuries in the United States annually.  Tractor accidents are the main source of fatalities among farm workers.  More than 100 of the fatal injuries on farms occur to people 20 years of age and younger. 

Photo of Secretary Kuperus during hydraulics demonstration Northern Burlington County Regional High School Agricultural Education Department Chairman Michael Hlubik said their diverse program is a reflection of the agriculture industry, which is an important part of the economy in both Burlington County and the state.  He said prior to using any equipment, students are taught basic shop safety, curriculum-specific safety, and production agriculture equipment safety.

“We at Northern Burlington stress safety in all the aspects of our Agriculture Programs, from floral design to tractor driving in the Equipment Maintenance class,” said Hlubik.  “It is through these programs that the students gain literacy in agriculture so they understand how important and viable agriculture is to the health and welfare of New Jersey as well as the rest of the country.”

During his visit to the school district, Secretary Kuperus took a tractor-Photo of Tractor Contest Sign drawn hayride to the crop demonstration fields, driven by Adam Wainwright, winner of the 2006 State FFA Safe Tractor Driving contest.  Northern Burlington is one of several agricultural education programs in the state that offers instruction in tractor driving.  Over the past four years, 14 schools in the state have regularly participated in the competition.  Teachers must sign a release that verifies the students have been properly trained through classroom instruction before they can compete in the event.  

FFA is a national organization of more than 490,000 members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.  FFA is part of a three pronged approach to agricultural education, which also includes a supervised agricultural experience and classroom and laboratory instruction.

“All of New Jersey’s agricultural education programs incorporate safety into their curricula, which includes instruction in hand tool, power equipment, and turf and agriculture equipment safety and safe use of agricultural products, such as fertilizers and pesticides,” said Nancy Trivette, State Program Leader for Agricultural Education.  “If we are preparing students to enter the agriculture industry, they not only need to be properly skilled but need to know safety procedures to protect themselves and others against injury or death.”

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture along with Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station is working on increasing farm safety training in the state in the coming year.  Currently, Rutgers annually, as part of its Twilight Meeting Series, holds farm safety programs each September, with topics ranging from pesticide safety to fire prevention and chainsaw safety.  The programs include special breakout sessions for children.

For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture’s web page that lists farm safety resources at