Windom resident was named 2016 ATV Instructor of the Year

WINDOM -- Jayd Soderholm, an investigator with the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office, has received the 2016 ATV Instructor of the Year award for his dedication to educate youth on ATV safety.

WINDOM -  Jayd Soderholm, an investigator with the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office, has received the 2016 ATV Instructor of the Year award for his dedication to educate youth on ATV safety.


Since 2008, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office have worked in collaboration to host an ATV training course for young residents between ages 11-15. Students are required to complete an online course, attend classroom training and complete a riding course.


Soderholm received a plaque Saturday that was presented by local conservation officer Dustin Miller.



One year after its creation, Soderholm said he decided to be part of the program as a volunteer instructor. He explained that working with kids and helping them operate an ATV in a safe manner is what made him volunteer.


“It was an honor,” Soderholm said. “I love working with the kids. I think that’s the main reason why I am doing this.”


Soderholm said he takes care of the classroom portion of the program, during which he introduces the many laws and security measures young drivers have to keep in mind while on an ATV.


“We talk a lot about the laws and the rules as far as ATV operation because there are a lot of limitations as far as youth being able to operate ATVs,” he said. “We focus a lot on the safety aspect of it. … There are more hazards to a young person just because of the weight of the machines and their abilities to balance the machine.”



After students pass a written exam, the next part of the training takes place in Island Park in Windom.


Soderholm said two aspects emphasized during the program are helmet usage and the importance of riding the correct-sized ATV.


“There are so many times we see young kids riding on ATVs that are just too big for their physical stature, so they don’t balance the machine properly,” Soderholm said. “Rollover accidents are probably the leading accident, and also the leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities.”


He noted that the program is a great opportunity, and said residents should take advantage of the certification since ATV training is very limited in the area.



Since the program started, Soderholm said he has seen people be more compliant with ATV regulations - especially with helmet utilization.


“I’ve been seeing an increase of people’s awareness of the rules,” he said. “We haven’t have any cases of serious injuries for a few years, and hopefully the program is a contributor to that.”


Soderholm said the course is just the result of community work. He noted that the Windom Farm Service is constantly supporting the program, providing ATVs for students during the course.


“I think the reason why the program exists is because of the collaboration,” Soderholm said. “I have a good relationship with our conservation officer and he helps me with the course … and then Windom Farm Service give their time and services so we can do this.”

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