On Thursday, roughly 90 young people gathered at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to learn about the importance of safety with the 20th Annual Ag Safety Day.
Ag Safety Day Coordinator Lana Likens explained that they have been working hard to create a culture of safety among young people in the county, and to help them be more aware of their surroundings.
“We are in our 20th year of having Progressive Ag Safety Day here in Jefferson County,” said Likens. “It started in our county 20 years ago because Bob Stritzke, who was an Extension Educator at the time, saw a need in the county to provide education to children in our county, specifically for farm safety. From that we’ve developed into teaching about all kinds of safety. Over those 20 years, I can safely say that we’ve reached over 2,000 kids.”
Likens emphasized that Ag Safety Day is open to everyone, not just kids involved with agriculture, because they teach a variety of topics from staying safe around grain to being able to make healthier lifestyle choices.
“What we know is that kids from our towns also need to know about some of the things in the ag world,” Likens said. “If you don’t grow up on a farm and you go to visit one, or if you go to a fair, you will be exposed to things that are very ag related even though that’s not part of your day to day life.”
Ag Safety Day grew from the organization Farm Safety For Just Kids, which was formed in Iowa after a mother lost her 11 year old son in a grain accident.
“It was a tragic accident,” said Likens. “It was not anything anyone meant to do, or anything anyone did wrong, as far as that goes, but we’ve learned a lot with what happens with grain flow, and we’ve learned a lot about the precautions you need to take. You can’t win a fight with grain. So, almost every year, we try to educate kids about being safe around grain so that a tragedy like that doesn’t happen here.”
Over the past 20 years, the community has played a large role in promoting Ag Safety Day in a number of ways from sponsoring events to volunteering time to help kids learn about safety. Some of the organizations and businesses that hosted sessions this year include FFA members from Diller-Odell, Fairbury and Tri County, Farm Safety For Just Kids, Jefferson County Ambulance, which hosted a mock accident, the Fairbury City Fire Department, the Jefferson County Extension Office, Farmers Cooperative, Jefferson Community Health and Life, Bryan Health, Norris Public Power and Kara Riggle, a veterinary science student at UNL who attended the Jefferson County Ag Safety Day for a number of years. Likens is grateful for all of the support from the community to help make Ag Safety Day possible.
“We appreciate the support of our community,” said Likens. “There is a long list of sponsors that help make this possible. A lot of our local organizations and businesses have gotten on board and have helped us to be able to make this day possible, and we really, really do appreciate it.”
Likens encourage parents to send their kids to Ag Safety Day so they can learn more about how to be safe in their community.
“I can’t begin to list all of the topics that we’ve had over the years,” Likens said. “We focus on all different aspects of safety, but have fun at the same time. One of the things we always try to stress, by attending safety day, we can’t certify that a child is going to be 100 percent safe and never have an accident. Accidents happen in our world, but what we hope is that we teach children some good common sense things to do and some of the best practices so that we can try to keep them from being involved in accidents that can be prevented. Many accidents can be prevented if we take the proper precautions.”