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Beresford FFA chapter shares importance of farm safety with kids

Courtesy photo/Maggie VanderLaanThe Beresford FFA Chapter in Beresford, SD, hosted a farm safety workshop and petting zoo for children in kindergarten through third grade on May 11.

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Farm and ranch kids are tough. They are capable and are often asked to do jobs better fit for adults. Life on in the country can be challenging, and dealing with large machinery, heavy equipment, electricity, live animals, weather and unexpected interruptions can pose a serious threat to both children and adults.

That’s why farm safety is so important. To avoid accidents and to be savvy on the dos and don’ts on a ranch was the message shared on May 11 by the Beresford FFA Chapter in Beresford, SD. Sophomore Maggie VanderLaan is an officer among the FFA members and recapped the day of events.

“Our event was geared for kids in kindergarten through third grade,” explained VanderLaan. “Our main goal was to teach them farm safety tips. We talked about chemical safety, machinery awareness, clothes the kids should wear, and how to safely drive an ATV. We talked about grain safety and how the equipment used on a farm can be a danger.”

Most producers wouldn’t guess it, but according to the National Safety Council, cattle ranches ranked second and dairy operations followed in third among all farming enterprises in injuries per hour of work. More than 17 percent of all farm injuries involve animals.

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids is an organization dedicated to reminding youth and adults about the threats on farms and ranches, and although many of their tips seem like common sense, it only takes an instant for an accident to occur.

“When working around animals encourage your children to: be calm, move slowly, and avoid loud noises,” suggested the organization. “Wear steel-toed shoes.”

Tips continued, “Avoid the hind legs of the animal. Approach large animals at the shoulder. Children should avoid animals with newborns. Children should avoid stallions, bulls, rams and boars. Always have an escape route when working with animals in close quarters. Finally, wear helmets when riding horses.”

Livestock aren’t the only threat on the farm. The Farm Safety 4 Just Kids Web site, http://www.fs4jk.org, offers additional information and warnings for grain, chemical and ATV safety. VanderLaan’s FFA Chapter echoed the messages found on this Web site, and her group was passionate about bringing the message home for the students.

“At the end of our presentation, we set up a large toy farm, where we had things set up wrong, and we had the kids point out the dangers they learned about in our presentation,” said VanderLaan. “They really picked up a lot, and the next time they are out on the farm or at a friend’s house visiting, they will think twice before making dangerous mistakes.”

In addition to the farm safety workshop, the FFA chapter hosted a petting zoo, complete with a buffalo, lamb, piglets, kittens, a puppy and a few bottle calves.

“We had a petting zoo, too,” she added. “It really shocked me when some of the second graders saw we had bottle calves, and a little boy asked me if they were dogs. Some of the kids thought the piglets were puppies, as well. This was a wake up call for me that even South Dakota kids can’t necessarily identify with what’s going on in agriculture right outside their door.”

The chapter spent weeks preparing for this event, and it was a learning experience for both students and teachers.

“I learned how important it is to share our agriculture story with kids,” said VanderLaan, who is active in 4-H and FFA and plans to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) after high school to pursue agriculture education and animal science degrees. “We can reach out to these kids and improve their skills and awareness of farm safety and farm life. It’s important for kids to know about where their food comes from and how to behave when they go to the farm. They need this information, so they don’t go to a farm and get hurt. Kids also need to know how to identify these farm animals. Thinking a pig is a puppy is a huge disconnect we must tackle. Overall, I think the kids really enjoyed it and soaked up our message. Hopefully, we will do it again next year.”

Farm safety reminders can certainly seem redundant and basic, but it’s not just elementary students who need these refresher courses. This time of year brings high-intensity demands on farmers and ranchers to get planting done, calves worked, fence fixed and pairs moved pairs out to pasture. Ranchers can get in a hurry and take shortcuts, which can result in tragic accidents. Stay aware and be safe this spring; farm safety counts.

Farm and ranch kids are tough. They are capable and are often asked to do jobs better fit for adults. Life on in the country can be challenging, and dealing with large machinery, heavy equipment, electricity, live animals, weather and unexpected interruptions can pose a serious threat to both children and adults.

That’s why farm safety is so important. To avoid accidents and to be savvy on the dos and don’ts on a ranch was the message shared on May 11 by the Beresford FFA Chapter in Beresford, SD. Sophomore Maggie VanderLaan is an officer among the FFA members and recapped the day of events.

“Our event was geared for kids in kindergarten through third grade,” explained VanderLaan. “Our main goal was to teach them farm safety tips. We talked about chemical safety, machinery awareness, clothes the kids should wear, and how to safely drive an ATV. We talked about grain safety and how the equipment used on a farm can be a danger.”

Most producers wouldn’t guess it, but according to the National Safety Council, cattle ranches ranked second and dairy operations followed in third among all farming enterprises in injuries per hour of work. More than 17 percent of all farm injuries involve animals.

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids is an organization dedicated to reminding youth and adults about the threats on farms and ranches, and although many of their tips seem like common sense, it only takes an instant for an accident to occur.

“When working around animals encourage your children to: be calm, move slowly, and avoid loud noises,” suggested the organization. “Wear steel-toed shoes.”

Tips continued, “Avoid the hind legs of the animal. Approach large animals at the shoulder. Children should avoid animals with newborns. Children should avoid stallions, bulls, rams and boars. Always have an escape route when working with animals in close quarters. Finally, wear helmets when riding horses.”

Livestock aren’t the only threat on the farm. The Farm Safety 4 Just Kids Web site, http://www.fs4jk.org, offers additional information and warnings for grain, chemical and ATV safety. VanderLaan’s FFA Chapter echoed the messages found on this Web site, and her group was passionate about bringing the message home for the students.

“At the end of our presentation, we set up a large toy farm, where we had things set up wrong, and we had the kids point out the dangers they learned about in our presentation,” said VanderLaan. “They really picked up a lot, and the next time they are out on the farm or at a friend’s house visiting, they will think twice before making dangerous mistakes.”

In addition to the farm safety workshop, the FFA chapter hosted a petting zoo, complete with a buffalo, lamb, piglets, kittens, a puppy and a few bottle calves.

“We had a petting zoo, too,” she added. “It really shocked me when some of the second graders saw we had bottle calves, and a little boy asked me if they were dogs. Some of the kids thought the piglets were puppies, as well. This was a wake up call for me that even South Dakota kids can’t necessarily identify with what’s going on in agriculture right outside their door.”

The chapter spent weeks preparing for this event, and it was a learning experience for both students and teachers.

“I learned how important it is to share our agriculture story with kids,” said VanderLaan, who is active in 4-H and FFA and plans to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) after high school to pursue agriculture education and animal science degrees. “We can reach out to these kids and improve their skills and awareness of farm safety and farm life. It’s important for kids to know about where their food comes from and how to behave when they go to the farm. They need this information, so they don’t go to a farm and get hurt. Kids also need to know how to identify these farm animals. Thinking a pig is a puppy is a huge disconnect we must tackle. Overall, I think the kids really enjoyed it and soaked up our message. Hopefully, we will do it again next year.”

Farm safety reminders can certainly seem redundant and basic, but it’s not just elementary students who need these refresher courses. This time of year brings high-intensity demands on farmers and ranchers to get planting done, calves worked, fence fixed and pairs moved pairs out to pasture. Ranchers can get in a hurry and take shortcuts, which can result in tragic accidents. Stay aware and be safe this spring; farm safety counts.


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