JONESBORO, AR - It's never to early to teach the importance of farm and home safety, and statisticlly fifth grade kids and younger are the right age to teach proper practices. Nationally, they are the ones that are in the highest percentage of injury and fatality across the nation.
With so many farms in America youngsters may be called upon to perform chores or work that they may not be prepared for. Dr. Kevin Humphrey, Director of Agriculture Education at ASU told us that, "There are probably kids out there that are probably doing jobs that they may not necessarily be old enough to do but it may be a necessity."
With that in mind the College of Agriculture at ASU along with sponsors and the Future Farmers of America join together each year to teach youth the dangers and safety of home and the agriculture environment.
Humphrey, "They'll be rotating through ten different booths, the booths cover everything from electrical safety to grain handling safety, atv and four-wheeler safety, also lawn mower safety which is a good age bracket for when they start cutting lawns at home."
Westside Fifth grader Shea Bewley a veteran lawnmower has taken the lessons to heart. "Sometimes I mow my yard and I never knew I was not supposed to take off the safety thing." Shea was referring to the shields on riding lawnmowers that cover the belts and blade exhaust. A point driven home by Bay Ag teacher Rocky Clements.
Other demonstrations include Emerson ambulance showing life-saving techniques and equipment. Tornado safety from K8's Ryan Vaughn. The kids learned that some farm animals have to be approached the right way and the Jonesboro Fire Department used a hands-on technique with fire extinguishers to extinguish a small fire.
Not every kid that came out to the Safety Expo lives on a farm but almost all of them have been exposed to a piece of farm equipment or visited a farm at one time or another. Lane Lenderman an ag student at ASU and her father were teaching tractor safety to a group of 5th graders. "Every time I've had a group here, I've asked them if they live on a farm or been on a farm and every person in that group has said yes."
Of course you can't teach over 300 5th graders without help and one of the big contributors were members of the Future Farmers of America. Dr. Humphrey said, "We do have ten different high school FFA chapters that are here and they are volunteering their officers to serve as team leaders to lead the kids around to different stations."
With nearly thirty one percent of all ag-related youth injuries happening to children under ten, safety education is priority one these kids take home with them.