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Rural Safety Messages Raise Student Awareness

Rural Safety Messages Raise Student Awareness
Students in eight central Illinois schools will be participating in the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program through the Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety program using video chat with hands-on activities in the classroom.

Called Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, the aim is to engage youths in rural areas and provide ongoing education of how to take responsibility for being safe in agriculture. Topics mostly relate to agriculture, but there are also lessons helpful off the farm.

“The program involves a lot of volunteer work to prepare the events and it gives Carle an opportunity to reach out to those communities and provide real-world lessons young people can share with their family and friends as well as practice for the rest of their lives,” said Amy Rademaker, Carle Rural Health & Farm Safety program coordinator.

Due to the pandemic, planning the event for its usual time in the spring made it impossible. However, because of the unprecedented times, the safety lessons are essential. “More youths are doing remote learning at home and that means more time on the farm where they can put into practice what they learn during Progressive Agriculture Safety Day,” Rademaker said.

interns-packing-agtivity-bags2.jpgStudents from the following schools will be participating in the activities: Gibson City Middle School, Deland-Weldon Middle School, Armstrong-Ellis Elementary School, Bement Elementary School, Potomac Grade School, Hoopeston Area Middle School, Prairieview Junior High School, and Rossville-Alvin Elementary School. Community Health Initiatives interns Alia Alicia and Ysabel Floresca, both students at the University of Illinois, assembled bags containing safety-related items students will use during the video chat lessons. 

Gibson City Middle School Community Liaison Cathy Walker Steidinger has for many years seen how effective the program is for students at her school. She said students are at an age where they believe nothing can happen to them while they gain more responsibility and freedom at home. “The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day does a really great job of addressing many risks these kids have the potential of encountering,” she said. “Hopefully, what they hear reinforces messages they already receive at home.”

Though the interactivity of the events is different this year, the lessons are no less important. Youths will each receive an “AGtivity bag” containing items for interactive experiences led by Rademaker through an online video chat program.

More than 300 students will each receive a bag that contains items like a sun bracelet, ear plugs, and a pipe cleaner for use during the hands-on activities. Plus, students will use a balloon, drinking straw and unpopped popcorn to simulate how difficult it is to inflate lungs inside a grain bin.

Sun safety, chemical safety, ATV safety, lawn mower safety as well as information on how to stay healthy mentally during these unprecedented times is part of the 2 1/2-hour presentations. The event follows guidelines from the National Progressive Agriculture Foundation.

Categories: Community

Tags: agriculture, farm, Rural Health and Farm Safety, safety, youth