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Are we having fun yet?

July 20, 2010

Last week was pretty busy with farm safety stuff down in Windham County.   UVM Extension Youth Agriculture Project and Strolling of the Heifer’s Farmer’s Apprentice Program came together and held a farm safety training in a nicely air-conditioned conference room at the tech center.  And after all the horrid heat and humidity the kids did really well to sit inside for a full day of safety.   Each program has somewhere around 15 youth,  ages 15 to 22, who are actively farming.   Some gardening and some working on dairy farms or on  goat farms.

All of the youth have similar exposures to risk with farming, so the task was to put together a comprehensive safety training that would provide farm safety information while not boring the beejeese out of them.  Given that I am bilingual ( I speak facebook, youtube and blogging) as well as have access to actually safety information, I chose to take a couple of themes : dehydration,  the dangers of sun exposure, safety around machinery and safety around farm animals, and work them up different ways during the day

The challenge is to give safety information and training without being boring and loosing your audience.  Teens are especially hard because they already know everything anyhow and they are invincible don’t cha’no. So there were some ice breaker activities and then groups were formed and each group was given a couple of pictures that showed a safety issue.   This photo got a huge response.  And yes the kid is texting on an antique tractor without a ROPS.

After the group work we then got into the hard core information and  I used YouTube for this. Farmsafetydude has a channel that you can check out and see the selection that I used.  One of the videos that we talked bunches about was  one that showed  cow behavior called Zombie Cow Attack.  I also used a blog post from a young lady that had skin cancer on her nose and she showed some truly gruesome photos of pre and post surgical removal of the cancer.  I got the kids attention with that one too.  Most of the students said that they enjoyed the day and learned lot.  And I am super glad for that.

The problem with giving a safety training is that you really don’t know how to judge success other than knowing that there are no fatal accidents.   On the way back from the training I learned of a farmer that was killed by his bull. Sobering for sure.  Safety on the farm is serious and most folks don’t really want to spend the time listening to safety information and as a safety person I often feel that the information I am giving is being received on the same joy level as pulling teeth.   Last week was good though.  I think I got through to most of them.  Fingers crossed and here’s hoping.

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