July 2008
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Agriculture Safety Day a Learning Experience Shoals Area

Agriculture Safety Day a Learning Experience

Shoals Area Students Benefit from Tailored Program

By Susie Sims

 

Growing up in Alabama, kids often deal with potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis.

We all know how dangerous a place a farm can be for youngsters, but teaching our kids to spot danger can be difficult.

In an effort to demonstrate the dangers facing farm and town residents, Colbert County recently hosted a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day.

The program, which was founded by Progressive Farmer magazine in 1995, used to be known as the Progressive Farmer Farm Safety Day Camp program. Its mission is to make farm and ranch life safer and healthier for all children through education and training.

More than 100 children from Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties were at the North Alabama State Fairgrounds to participate in the annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day. The event gave these children a chance to learn about a variety of safety issues. Alabama Farmers Cooperative member stores are part of the sponsorship of this safety program in Alabama.
 
 
It began with 19 camps in 11 states. Today the combined programs sponsor more than 250 camps in 38 states and in three Canadian provinces.

Coordinators must be trained, as well, to insure they are kept up-to-date on the program.

Colbert County’s Safety Day was held on Wednesday, June 11 at the North Alabama State Fairgrounds in Muscle Shoals.

According to Billy Frost with the Colbert County Soil and Water Conservation District, the local program featured eight stations to educate students on local dangers.
 
The Farm Service Agency in Colbert County conducted the disability awareness event.

Lauderdale County NRCS ran the water safety area.

Students were fingerprinted by the staff of the Muscle Shoals Resource, Conservation and Development.

Members of the Colbert County Extension System conducted lessons on sun safety.

Fire Safety was taught by the Muscle Shoals Fire Department.

Randy Rice of North Fork Southern Railroad stressed the importance of railroad safety to the students.

Electric Safety was directed by the Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals Electric Boards.

Butch Whitehead with the Shoals ATV Riders Association demonstrated proper and safe ways to ride ATVs.

Tri-Green ran the tractor and lawnmower safety area.
 
Making an Impression

While parents and family members are constantly telling children to be careful, sometimes what they need is to observe an event with their own eyes.

"You can talk all day to kids," said Frost. "But when they see something, it stays with them."

This "show me" philosophy is at the heart of the Safety Day.

Frost said the students really took notice when the electric safety demonstration showed them how easily they could be electrocuted.

He said the big attention-getter of the day had to be the front-end loader demonstration.

Frost said they had a dummy lying on the ground with a watermelon as its head. When the front-end loader came down on the melon, students reacted out loud.

"That really got their attention," said Frost. "Many of them said they didn’t realize how much force was behind the loader."

The Logistics of the Day

It may seem like a daunting task to teach 141 students all the things you want them to know in just a few hours, but there was definitely a method.

Frost said the students, who were mostly from Colbert County, were broken up into small groups. Each group was given a different color bracelet. The groups then rotated through the stations.

It took 72 volunteers to make the day successful.

A group known as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) served as tour guides for the day. They escorted the groups of students from station to station.

Frost said the small groups really allowed the students to get involved at each station. They feel more comfortable and ask more questions.

A safety committee was on-hand to make sure students were in the right place.

Helen Keller Hospital served lunch.

Other Topics Available

In order for Safety Days to be most effective, local organizers can choose from a variety of topics and activities.

Some of the other available activities include chemical safety, firearm safety, hand tool safety and roadway safety.

By choosing topics most pertinent to local students, organizers can design a program tailor-made for a specific community.

Sponsors

In addition to the on-site help mentioned above, many other local businesses and agencies assisted with the cost and production of the day.

Local sponsors for the Safety Day include the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Farmers Cooperative member stores, Alabama Department of Transportation, Alabama Health Care, Buffalo Rock, Colbert Soil and Water Conservation District, First Southern, FSA-Tuscumbia field office, Helen Keller Hospital, Jim Bishop Toyota, Lauderdale Soil and Water Conservation District, Liberty National Life Insurance, Long-Lewis, Muscle Shoals Electric Board, Muscle Shoal Fire Department, North Alabama Fair Grounds, Northwest RC&D, NRCS-Florence field office, NRCS-Tuscumbia field office, Pizza Hut, Project Life Saver, Purity, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Sheffield Fire Department, Sheffield Utility Department, Shoals ATV Riders, State Farm-James Hampton, Tri-Green Tractor Company, Tuscumbia Utility Department and Wal-Mart.

Contact Information

Persons interested in more information about the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day may visit the website at
www.progressiveag.org. The site contains information on hosting a Safety Day in your area and information about upcoming Safety Days.