Louisiana: Farm Safety Goes to School

From machinery to farm implements, there are potential dangers at every turn on the farm.

That’s why the LSU AgCenter and the Progressive Agriculture Foundation have joined forces to teach fifth graders in Oak Grove and other West Carroll Parish communities how to be safe.

“We have to do this because so many children in our area are from farming communities,” said Cynthia Stephens, AgCenter 4-H agent in West Carroll Parish. “We want them to be safe on the farm and in their homes.”

This is the 20th year for Progressive Ag, a nonprofit whose mission is to help local agencies like the AgCenter’s West Carroll office hold Ag Safety Days in their communities.

“When we started two decades ago, this day was geared for agriculture but we’ve expanded it to all walks of life,” said Tammie Stutts, Ag Safety Day coordinator with Progressive Ag. “We’ve got electricity, ATVs, tractors, firearms and even drug awareness.”

The fifth graders from each school throughout West Carroll parish were divided into small groups. They spent about 20 minutes at nine stations as volunteers from the community taught safety tips on everything from being around tractors to how to call an ambulance.

The air evac team of AirMedCare Network, based in Rayville, landed their helicopter near the AgCenter office to the amazement of the nearly 200 students attending the event.

Amanda Corley, whose 10-year-old son was nearly killed after being run over by a tractor, had to use the AirMedCare chopper to transport him to the hospital.

“My son would not have made it if it wasn’t for this medical team and pilot,” Corley said.

Jacob had numerous internal injuries and his arm was nearly severed from his body, his mother said. But today, Jacob has full use of his arm and is healthy.

“Look, listen, and get off the cellphone. You’ve got to pay attention,” Corley said. “This safety day isn’t just something to get out of class. It could save your life. Listen and follow instructions.”

There was also a tractor safety demonstration by Cole Thibault and Joey Dye, employees of Goldman Equipment in West Monroe.

Thibault explained how sleeves, phone chords and jewelry can get caught in the machinery, causing serious bodily harm, he talks about an experience he had with wooden watches in the past.

Another station included a demonstration by Bunge grain elevator personnel on grain bin safety. Playing in and around storage silos holding corn, soybeans or other grains can be deadly, said Kendric Brown, a Bunge employee.

“You’d be surprised at the kids who go home and tell their parents, ‘Hey, don’t do it like that. It’s not a safe way to do that,'” said Stephens, the 4-H agent. “If we prevent one accident from happening, it’s all worth while.”

For more information on agriculture safety, visit your parish extension office or contact Cynthia Stephens at cstephens@agcenter.lsu.edu or 318-428-3571.

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