Grant provides ATVs, equipment for 4-H
Published 9:53 am Thursday, March 3, 2022
By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Extension Service
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A recent grant award is helping provide all-terrain vehicle safety training to Mississippi 4-H’ers.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H ATV Safety Program recently received $10,000 from Polaris through the company’s T.R.A.I.L.S. grant program. The funds purchased two youth sized Polaris ATVs and safety equipment. T.R.A.I.L.S. is an acronym for trail development, responsible riding, access, initiatives, lobbying and safety.
Brad Staton, an Extension associate with the 4-H ATV Safety Program, said he is thankful for the grant because it will allow his program to train more people at once.
“Before, we just didn’t have enough ATVs to hold a full class,” he said. “Now, we have enough equipment to hold a full class of six riders for the 10-to-13 age group. These machines can also be used in classes for the 13-and-older age group. The ability to have a full class makes the training exercises more effective. And with more riders, the class is more fun.”
Participants in the 4-H ATV Safety Program learn to operate ATVs safely and responsibly in a controlled environment. The half-day 4-H ATV RiderCourse, which is taught by licensed instructors, covers starting and stopping, quick turns, hill riding, emergency maneuvers and riding over obstacles. Participants also receive training on protective gear, local regulations, places to ride and environmental concerns.
The RiderCourse has been offered for more than 10 years. While COVID-19 has impacted numbers in the last two years, approximately 250 students go through the course every year.
“We are working to get back up to that number this year,” Staton said.
Offered through Extension offices statewide, these classes are tailored to the age and experience level of the participants. The course is open to adults and children aged 8 and up. Each participant receives a free helmet courtesy of the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, studies show that formal, hands-on training is the best way to reduce the risk of ATV-related injury for children and adults.
Begun in January 2006, the T.R.A.I.L.S. grant program promotes safe and responsible riding and land access for ATV clubs, associations and grassroots groups. Grant funds are awarded to national, state and local organizations, and they can be used for safety and education, trail development and maintenance, and lobbying and other petitions to maintain and increase land access.
The program is a collaboration among local 4-H groups, the National 4-H Youth Development Program, and the ATV Safety Institute. ATV safety instructors are licensed through the institute, which also sponsors the ATV RiderCourse.
For more information about this program, contact your local Extension office. Find contact information at http://extension.msstate.edu/county-offices.