"One of the reasons we thought that parents — dads — would be really effective teachers is that we believed that if they were in a position of telling kids what's safe to do, it would change their own behavior. So the parent is not only saying ‘This is what you need to do,' but the parent is now doing it," Stoneman said.

For example, the North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks explicitly says, "no extra riders are allowed on the tractor."

While riding with a father and a grandfather is a beloved pastime for many youth living on farms, it is also an extremely dangerous one. If a child slips from the tractor, he or she will almost certainly be crushed by its back wheels.

Primary farmers who had been exposed to the AgTeen curriculum — which was based in the NAGCAT guidelines—were less likely than fathers in the control group to give youth rides on tractors. While youth in both treatment groups expressed the intention to stop riding as an extra passenger on a tractor, only those whose fathers had taught them the guidelines actually abstained.

In the future, the researchers hope to see their AgTeen curriculum implemented throughout the South. They believe UGA Cooperative Extension offices in all Georgia counties can help them get the message out.

"I think that what we're doing with this program is one of the primary responsibilities of a land-grant university in working with farm safety," said Glen Rains, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering.

As a collaboration between the Institute on Human Development and Disability in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the department of biological and agricultural engineering in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the AgTeen project ultimately aims to combine educational and agricultural expertise to keep young people from becoming disabled through farm accidents.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on the AgTeen study, see www.AgTeen.com.