GREENVILLE — It seems that one is never too old to learn about farm safety.
Rhonda Kress has been volunteering at the the Darke County Chapter of Farm Safety for Just Kids annual Progressive AG Safety Day, since 2004. She was there Tuesday, at the Darke County Fairgrounds, in Greenville, Ohio, volunteering for its 13th annual event. She has registered about 100 kids annually, ages 7 – 13, for 12 years now, recognizing many of their returning faces.
“I’ve lived on a farm my whole life, and luckily my children were safe on the farm and they’ve grown up,” she said. “But there have been a lot of children who have been hurt, and any chance that I can help promote the safety on the farm, I will try to do so.”
Kress went on to share a personal story about her own father Gary Brown, who was killed in an accident on their farm, last October. The story brought tears to her eyes.
“My dad has helped with the Safety Day, and last year we even did grain bin safety,” she said. “And as gently as I could put it, he did go into a grain bin and we don’t know what happened. It is so ironic that we have done this farm safety for 12 years, and dad was right here listening. It can happen to anyone. It’s still so hard for me to believe. Don’t go in the grain bin if at all possible. If you do, have a buddy system, make sure someone else knows you are going in the grain bin and wear safety harnesses. We never thought this would happen to our family – ever. My other message is, daddys – listen to your kids. Listen to the safety tips they are bringing home.”
Progressive AG Safety Day Coordinator Morgan Aultman echoed that sometimes the children take the lessons learned at Safety Day and pass them onto their parents and grandparents.
“Sometimes it makes them think,” she said. “Although we are here ultimately to keep the children safe, I think it helps to keep everyone safe.”
While farm safety was the focus of the event, other topics were covered that can help everyone. Five breakout sessions included: Drug Safety, with “We Are the Majority” member Zoe Harter; Sun Safety, with Director of Wellness Services at Wayne HealthCare Jordan Francis; Utility-terrain vehicle (UTV) Safety, with Koenig Equipment Operations Manager, of Greenville, Jeremy Fine; Bonfire Safety, with Kristi Bradford and Marla Werner with MedFlight and Cyber Safety with Darke County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant David Hawes. Detective Sergeant Hawes said he was there to keep the kids safe and out of trouble. One thing he discussed was inappropriate pictures.
“We don’t take pictures of the areas our bathing suits cover,” Detective Sergeant Hawes said. “We also don’t send pictures like that to anybody, because you could get in big trouble with the law. You have to tell someone, like parents, teachers or principals if anyone asks you to take or send those pictures.”
During Bradford’s Bonfire Safety session, one child asked if Bradford knew “Smokey the Bear”.
“I’ve met him a couple times,” Bradford said. “He wants you to be safe just like I do.”
Aultman wanted to thank the national and local sponsors for making the Progressive Ag Safety Day possible, including: Bunge, Crop Production Services (CPS), Agrium, TransCanada, CHS Foundation, Enbridge, ADM, John Deere, Farm Credit, Monsanto, Toyota, Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative, Farmland Partners, Kubota, Westfield and the Darke County Fair Board for the free use of the space.
Aultman said CPS, in Greenville, grilled hot dogs and provided lunch, helped serve the lunch and helped with the set-up and tear-down of the event. In addition, about 50 volunteers and a committee organized and planned the event.
“We can’t thank our sponsors enough,” Aultman said. “We are non-profit, surviving off of grants and donations. They allow us to help keep the kids safe.”