The Perry County Central High School Agriculture class was given the opportunity last week to learn how to use commercial and residential tractor equipment thanks to two businesses.
Agriculture teacher Ralph Combs said that some of his students graduate without having any experience driving machinery. Since many of them that take agriculture will be likely to go in to the agriculture field, Combs said that giving the students this kind of exposure is vital.
“Farm machinery safety as well as lawn machinery safety is the main thing that we have been studying,” said Combs. “We have students that have never driven tractors.”
The students had the chance to drive a small back hoe, a seated deck style mower with lap bars and a standing style mower. The students also got the chance to try out a new product that as of yet is not being sold much in the United States, a seated four wheel drive brush cutter. This mower does the job of a large heavy duty commercial tractor, but in a more easily used residential package.
Combs said he believes that the four wheel drive brush cutter will likely become very popular in Appalachian terrain since it is well suited to cut brush on steep hills. This is why he wanted his students to be able to try out this and the other tractors to learn their different functions.
Combs met Charlie Irwin, the dealer of this Seco Group tractor, at a trade show in Louisville, and they worked up an idea of bringing down his equipment along with some others from Rental Pro in Hazard to give the students a lesson is equipment. Irwin came down from Seco Group US in Connecticut, and Phillip Smith visited from Rental Pro in Hazard.
The Perry County Extension officer, Charles May, also had a big part in setting up these demonstrations for these potential future farmers.
“Charles May has been a big coordinator of this with the local extension service as well as the [Agriculture] department here,” said Combs.
Combs said that the experience has been really beneficial for many of his students since knowing how to safely use lawn equipment will be necessary for most agriculture jobs.
“We are trying to get the point across of how dangerous some of this stuff is,” said Combs. “Now they have been exposed, so it is very positive.”