Faith Through the Darkness: A Life Lesson in Farm Safety

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

The ProgressTammy with groupive Agriculture Safety Day® program was created with one thing in mind…..to keep children safe on farms, ranches and in rural communities. Many in the agriculture industry know someone whose life has been affected by a farm-related injury or death. What is most disturbing is many of these incidents could have been prevented with a few simple safety precautions.

Tammie Stutts has been trying to reach children, mostly fifth graders, in Northeastern Louisiana for more than 20 years, as both a Farm Bureau member and Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® volunteer. Tammie, along with her daughter Blake, have coordinated a total of 21 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days since 1997.  When Jacob Ross, a fifth grader in their small community, got severely injured in a farm incident the entire community knew about what had occurred and were all praying for him. Ross made a remarkable recovery and was in attendance at Tammie’s Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in May of 2011.

According to Stutts, “Anytime you can hear someone’s personal story or journey, it is not just a statistic and you change the mindset of this will never happen to me. It adds a personal touch with people you know.” The year Jacob was a fifth grader and told his story, it really impacted the youth participants. “The children thought this is someone my age, living the life I live and part of my community,” Stutts added.

Tammy by helicopterStutts initially worked with Jacob’s grandma, who was a fifth grade teacher in their community, to help Jacob share the traumatic experience with his peers. He has come back to Tammie’s Safety Days a couple more times over the years, helping kids understand how quickly things can go wrong when around farm equipment if not careful. Jacob’s story was featured in a calendar produced by Bunge, a 5-star partner of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, when a participant at Tammie’s Safety Day colored a picture depicting what he learned.

As both a mother and farmer, Tammie is keenly aware of the importance of safety on the farm. It was at a Safety Day in 2016 that Tammie heard Amanda, Jacob’s mom, share her side of the story. Tammie thought more people needed to hear it. After she reached out to Bernard Geschke, Program Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, they found an author willing to help Amanda get her experiences down on paper and into print. The book, Faith through the Darkness written by Ryan Curtis, is a riveting story of one mother’s struggle to save her son’s life. The book was recently released on June 22nd and is available for purchase through Amazon. More on the story can be found at www.ryancurtisbooks.com/books/faith-through-the-darkness

The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® is recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America, reaching nearly 1.6 million children and adults since 1995. Application to conduct a 2018 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in your local community are being accepted through July 15, 2017. To apply to host a Safety Day or for more information about the program, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo: Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® Coordinator, Tammie Stutts of Louisiana, helped shed light on a local mother’s story and heart-wrenching journey when her 10-year-old son was severely injured in a farm incident.

For National Safety Month, Let’s Keep Each Other Safe

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

16-1215_Faces_638The National Safety Council, along with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, work to raise awareness of what it takes to Keep Each Other Safe, which is this year’s theme of National Safety Month. Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. During the entire month of June, NSC has identified the following four safety topics to be highlighted each week:

Week 1 – Stand Up to Falls: “Don’t get tripped up! Keep an eye out to prevent falls.” Although home is the place where we feel the safest, falls in the home are one of the leading causes of injury-related death in the U.S., second only to poisoning. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, according to the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). From removing common tripping hazards such as rugs, cords and spills to getting regular vision screenings, you can help eliminate your chances of falling.

Week 2 – Recharge to Be in Charge:  With a focus on fatigue, this week highlights the importance of getting an accurate amount of sleep. The CDC reports that one in three adults do not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to injuries at work, home or on the farm. Not only is fatigue unhealthy for the individual, but it can impact the safety of others, including children and co-workers. Lack of alertness behind the wheel of a vehicle or machinery can have devastating consequences.

Week 3 – Prepare for Active Shooters: Preparing for the worst can be a difficult task, as it involves us thinking of a situation we do not ever want to be faced with. However, being prepared can be your best defense. By being aware of your environment and locating the nearest two exits for any place you visit, you are prepared for any dangerous situation including emergency evacuations for fires and other unexpected circumstances.

Week 4 – Don’t Just Sit There: This week’s focus is ergonomics and provide tips to remain healthy and active by avoiding lower back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, nearly 80% of Americans will experience back problems at some point in their lives. With proper stretching prior to lifting, using your legs and not your back, and limiting the amount of weight you carry, you can help prevent strains, dislocations and muscle tears.

These topics highlighted during June’s safety month are some of the lessons children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. If you are interested in conducting a 2018 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® for your community, applications are being accepted through July 15, 2017. To apply to host a Safety Day or for more information about the program, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo: These Pennsylvania participants are all smiles after attending a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are designed to be age-appropriate, hands-on, fun and safe for all children. To date, more than 1.5 million children and adults have been impacted by the program throughout North America.

Continuing a Legacy of Farm Safety Education

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Bernard Geschke and Marilyn Adams 2016Spring is here, grass is growing and planters are rolling. Safety cannot be overlooked during this busy time of year. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, every three days a child dies and every day 33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents. To protect the future generation of farmers, a focus on youth farm safety education must remain at the forefront.

Farm Safety For Just Kids (FS4JK), an organization committed to providing safety education to children in rural communities, recently announced it will dissolve after nearly three decades. In doing so, the organization feels the mission of making agriculture safer for youth will be better served by combining its resources and assets with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, which organizes more than 400 youth safety events each year through its Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program.

“We are honored that FS4JK entrusted our program to continue with their farm safety legacy by donating its assets,” says Susan Reynolds-Porter, chief executive officer of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. “These funds will be used to help us provide the training, resources and support needed for even more communities to conduct Safety Days for children.”

The foundation is welcoming FS4JK chapters that want to continue their efforts through the Safety Days program and will share FS4JK educational resources on its website.

According to Marilyn Adams, FS4JK founder and president, “We feel the organization has accomplished what we set out to do 30 years ago: to support farm safety education in the United States and around the world. This transfer of assets will further the mission we all have worked hard to accomplish.”

In the fall of 1986, Marilyn’s 11-year-old son, Keith, suffocated in a gravity flow wagon of corn while helping with harvest on his parents’ farm. Months later, when Marilyn was helping her daughter with an FFA project, while researching farm safety, she uncovered that Keith’s story wasn’t unique. After continually reading stories about hundreds of children dying on farms each year, Marilyn founded Farm Safety For Just Kids in the hopes of preventing another tragedy. From its humble beginnings as a grassroots movement that started out of a spare room in Marilyn’s Iowa home, the organization has reached thousands of children, families and communities with life-saving information.

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation plans to continue the legacy of FS4JK throughout North America. Forming in 1995, in response to countless news stories featured in The Progressive Farmer magazine on farm injuries and fatalities, many involving children, the Safety Day program was created to reduce these tragedies. In the first year, 19 Safety Day events were hosted across the Midwest and the South. Now in its 23rd year, the program has grown to be recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America, impacting more than 1.5 million youth and adults.

For more information on safety or for details about hosting, donating to, volunteering at or attending a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, visit progressiveag.org.

Photo: Bernard Geschke, Program Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, stands alongside Farm Safety For Just Kids founder, Marilyn Adams, at the 2016 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. Geschke and Adams have worked in farm safety together for more than 20 years. Although retiring full-time from the FS4JK organization in 2012, Adams remains a strong farm safety advocate.

Just Drive! Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions behind the Wheel

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Sadly, thousands die every year due to distracted driving. As technology advances, the ability to send a text or email, maTkd 1868crpdke a phone call or update social media are all common distractions that increase the risk of a crash. The month of April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council in an effort to draw attention to this epidemic. When you get behind the wheel, avoid distractions and “Just Drive!”

Every eight seconds, someone is hurt in a car crash. In 2016, an estimated 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes, which is the highest in nine years. Additionally, 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention last year. On the farm, new technologies in agriculture have helped make farmers more efficient, but can also cause distractions leading to injury or death.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life and the struggle to balance work, family and other responsibilities, many try to multitask whether on a short trip to town or long commute to the office. Unfortunately, both driving and cell phone use requires a great deal of thought. Other distracted drivers on the road, wildlife, pedestrians and severe weather conditions are already present and can provide a greater risk when getting behind the wheel. Here are a few ways you can stay safe and keep distractions at bay:

  1. Make a pledge – Encourage your family to make a pledge to refrain from the use of cell phones when behind the wheel. Have younger children hold you accountable for this pledge. This can mean the difference between life and death.
  2. Your food can wait – Eating and drinking while driving can also cause distractions. Spilling a hot coffee or reaching for lost French Fries can easily cause your eyes and focus to leave the roadway. Also, be cognizant of your alcohol consumption. Never drive impaired and know the legal alcohol limit for your state. If on medications, identify any side effects that may present a distraction when driving.
  3. Plan ahead – Before you venture on the road, make adjustments to seats, headrests, mirrors and vehicle controls. If using GPS or navigation systems, enter the address ahead of time or pull over to a safe area to set.
  4. Keep it in park – Keep accessories you may need when driving, such as sunglasses and blue tooth ear pieces, close by. Place distractions out of reach. Avoid applying make-up, painting your nails, combing your hair, changing your clothes and other grooming practices while driving.
  5. Safety first and always – Fasten your seat belt and assure passengers do the same before putting your car in drive.

These safety tips were brought to you by the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program. For more information on safety or for details about hosting, donating, volunteering or attending at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo:  At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Minnesota, participants learn some common distractions that can arise when driving through the use of a simulated game.

It’s National Nutrition Month: Put Your Best Fork Forward

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

09-1033_healthylifestyles_402Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes National Nutrition Month® with an education and information campaign. This effort serves as a reminder that each one of us hold the tools to make healthier food choices. National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each year since 1980, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The 2017 theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” reminds us that each bite counts. It also shows how making small changes during National Nutrition Month® and over time, helps improve health now and into the future.

At Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® across North America, more than 90 of our annual safety events offer a station to engage participants in goal setting, self-discipline and decision making for a healthier lifestyle. During hands-on activities and demonstrations, participants learn how to read labels, select smart snacks, adopt physical activities or commit to daily exercise, understand the benefits of water, uncover the amount of sugar in various beverages and compare healthy and oversized portions. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics share these five tips to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” this year:

  1. Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  2. Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  3. How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  4. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  5. Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month® and get the entire family involved in adopting a healthy lifestyle. Play games, download tip sheets, view recipe videos and more at http://sm.eatright.org/NNMinfo

Since 1995, more than 1.5 million children and youth have been impacted by the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program. For more information on safety or for details about hosting, donating, volunteering or attending at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo:  Making healthy choices when it comes to diet and exercise are what these participants learn at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Illinois. Many Safety Days throughout North America offer a healthy lifestyles component.

Watch Your Step: Steer Clear of Slips, Trips and Falls

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

dsc01321You may have heard the saying, “a spill or slip can lead to a hospital trip!” From ice on the sidewalks to toys left on the stairs, the dangers of hidden hazards are all around us. The aftermath of slips, trips and falls can not only cause injury and physical pain, but days missed at work or school, lost wages and medical bills. According to the National Safety Council, 2016 data reveals that falls are the third leading cause of death in the United States. In 2014 alone, falls accounted for more than 32,000 deaths in the home, community and workplace.

Slips, trips and falls are a common cause of most of the injuries on farms. Weather hazards, rushing to complete daily tasks, poor housekeeping, bad traction, and wet, oily or uneven surfaces account for many incidents.  Fortunately, many of these incidents involving slips and falls can be prevented by being cautious and following important safety measures. Here are five safety tips to keep you on your feet and avoiding missing a beat:

  1. dsc01374Always clean up spills immediately and stay off of freshly mopped floors. Wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant soles.
  2. Assess potential dangers around the home or farm. Secure electrical cords by keeping them out of high traffic areas, arrange furniture or equipment to provide open walking pathways and install adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors.
  3. When it comes to staircases and walkways, install handrails and keep the area clutter free by removing any potential tripping hazards such as shoes, toys, clothes and boxes. If you have young children, install gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Be sure to unlatch the gate in order to pass through and don’t climb over them. Not only does climbing over them leave an opportunity for an incident, it role models unsafe behavior to youngsters.
  4. Keep frequently used items in easily reachable and accessible areas and never stand on a table, chair or other surface with wheels.
  5. Maintenance is key. Repair damages immediately and take time to remove debris from exterior walkways and adjust gutter downspouts to drive water away from pathways. Don’t take chances with faulty, broken or unsecured ladders.

Each year, the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program reaches more than 100,000 youth and adults throughout North America and covers numerous safety topics including slips, trips and falls. For more information on safety or for details about hosting, donating, volunteering or attending at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photos: Participants at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Pennsylvania identify potential dangers and hidden hazards around the home and farm in an effort to keep themselves, as well as their family and friends, safe from slips, trips or falls.

A New Year Brings New Resolutions: Be Sure to Make Safety and Health Part of Yours!

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

11-346_glowgerm_3104 As we celebrate the beginning of 2017, many of us will embark on various New Year’s resolutions. From goals to achieve, bad habits to break and diets to start, some resolutions will be short lived with few that will be followed through until year’s end. Let’s ring in 2017 with resolutions that stick and keep safety and health in mind all the time!

Begin the year by making healthy choices when it comes to diet and exercise. Lead by example and promote an active lifestyle to children. Exercising as a family is a great way to keep all members healthy. Benefits of physical activity are improved mood, elevated energy levels, better sleep, and improved strength and coordination. Replace sugary drinks with water and be sure to drink water plenty of it throughout the day. Water helps your body regulate temperature, helps digest & absorb food, and transports oxygen and nutrients to cells. Getting adequate sleep is also very important to overall health. Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night & children need 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night.

Another healthy resolution is to follow good hand washing practices to keep germs at bay. Proper handwashing is a critical component in reducing the spread of germs. You should wash your hands frequently throughout the day especially after using the bathroom, sneezing or coughing, petting animals, and handling raw or spoiled foods. Always be sure to wash your hands before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizers are great for use as a back-up plan if handwashing facilities are not available, but should not replace washing regularly with soap and water.

From helmets and hearing protection to sunscreen and wide brim hats, commit to wearing personal protective equipment all the time to prevent health issues not just today, but later on in life such as head or brain injuries, hearing loss and skin cancer. Also, be proactive as you start a new year by assuring your home, farm and equipment is equipped with working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and first aid kits.

Finally, make your New Year’s resolution to be part of one of more than 400 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® that will be offered throughout North America this year. Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® teach children in rural communities about a variety of safety and health topics. For more information on safety or for details about hosting, donating, volunteering or attending at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo: Many Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® throughout North America offer a healthy lifestyles component like this event held Iowa. With the use of Glo Germ and an ultraviolet light, participants identify the importance of proper hand washing.