Putting Farm Safety into Practice

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

2017.NFSHW_color-logoA safe and healthy harvest is a happy harvest! Each September, as week kick off harvest season, we are reminded of the importance of keeping safety in mind all the time to maintain productivity and avoid injuries and illness. During National Farm Safety and Health Week, taking place September 17– 23, 2017, we focus on “Putting Farm Safety into Practice.”

According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), every three days a child dies and every day 33 children are injured due to agricultural-related incidents in the United States. Therefore, Wednesday, September 20th has been devoted to protecting our youth and keeping children on farms, ranches and in rural areas safe and healthy.

Grain SafetyGrowing up on a farm can be a wonderful experience. From a young age, children gain a strong appreciation for agriculture, learn the value of hard work and develop into the next generations of farmers. However, in order to ensure our children are around to be our future agriculture leaders, we need to keep them safe and healthy. Here are a few ways to help make this happen:

  1. Always make the play area more fun than the farmstead. Sadly, what seems like an innocent game of hide and seek in the tall corn or other crops can turn deadly if a child is hidden from sight and invisible to the operator of large farm equipment. Another important issue when it comes to grain safety is to avoid confusing children by sending mixed messages. At places like pumpkin patches and local parks, sand boxes have been replaced by corn, soybeans and other local grains. A young child will have trouble identifying the difference between grain in the box and grain in a gravity flow wagon that could engulf them in seconds.
  2. Ensure that tasks given to youth align with their development skill level. Recently, Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines were updated and released by NCCRAHS. These guidelines are designed to assist parents and supervisors in assigning appropriate tasks for youth who live or work on farms and ranches. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation was one of many organizations that helped with this project. More can be found at cultivatesafety.org/work
  3. Attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®. Safety Days are designed to be one-day, age-appropriate, hands-on, fun and safe events for children in rural communities. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 1.5 million children and adults have learned life-saving safety lessons helping us become recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Farm Safety and Health Week is a great opportunity to reflect, revisit and rethink the importance of keeping our loved ones safe, as well as a time to adopt new safety practices for use on the farm, ranch or at home.

Photo:  With 28 topic areas from ATV, fire and electricity safety to animal, chemical and grain safety, as depicted here by one of our participants in Illinois, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® can customize their focus based on the needs of their local community. Photo republished by permission of The News-Gazette, Inc. (2016). Permission does not imply endorsement.]

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All In Favor of Protecting Your Vision……Say EYE

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

14-115_HandToolSafety_514Seeing truly is believing when it comes to eye safety and health and August helps recognize its importance while celebrating Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month. Each day, thousands of Americans suffer an eye injury. Many of these injuries occur in the workplace including farms, where young children are actively present. Exposure to chemicals, sunlight, gases, vapors and even debris in the air can have a lasting impact on the health of your eyes.

Although children’s eyes are mostly healthy, Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month serves as the perfect reminder for you to have your children’s eyes checked. Examinations during regularly scheduled pediatric visits should ideally start from the age of three and continue onwards. Here are five eye-opening tips to protect your child’s vision:

  1. Properly fitted and appropriate eye protection can reduce the risk of eye injuries by at least 90%, according The Ohio Ophthalmological Society. With children heading back to school and athletes getting back into regular practices, you can prevent sport-related eye injuries with the proper eye protection. Sunglasses can also aid in preventing the development of cataracts, retinal damage, and also protect your skin from cancer. Be sure your sunglasses provide 100% ultraviolet protection from both the UVA rays and UVB rays.
  2. In addition to wearing eye protection for all hazardous activities at home, in school, in sports or on the job that could lead to an eye injury, being prepared and thinking about first aid is also important. Having first aid kits with a rigid eye shield and eyewash station is a great way to be proactive in preventing or aiding in the event of an eye injury.
  3. As children grow and their vision changes, glasses and contact lens often come into play. Whether your child’s glasses or contacts are for close up or distance vision, it is important that he or she wears them exactly as prescribed by the eye doctor. You may want to talk to your child’s teachers and other adult guardians to ensure that your child is wearing them at school or away from home.
  4. Proper nutrition is essential in eye health. Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of the daily diet. Diets with higher levels of vitamin C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids can aid is eye health.
  5. Avoid eye fatigue from smartphones, tablets, and computers. If you notice eyestrain from working on one of these devices, The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule. Look up from your work every 20 minutes and focus at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you notice problems and they persist, it is important to be checked for proper prescription of eye glasses, contact lenses or other medical conditions.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photo: Understanding the importance of always wearing eye protection is what these participants at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Nebraska are learning through an educational, hands-on activity.

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.