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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Let's Bury a Tradition, Not Another Child

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I was just ten on that chilly April day in 1944 when my brother John gave me an ill-advised bumpy "tour" of the cattle yard in the 30" bucket of the Caswell loader mounted on our "M." I was reminded of that day when I saw a picture (Daily Sentinel, 8-1-2011)) of a Farmall "H" with a similar loader at the fairgrounds.

The Caswell was one of the first "manure loaders," as they were called then, and the bucket was raised by chains running up to, and around pulleys. I was lucky to have been wearing "chore" gloves, for I was standing and hanging on to those chains for dear life as John raised the bucket. Both hands were badly cut, but the gloves saved me. The scars are almost invisible now but the memory lingers on! I have much larger scars where a 4-H calf dragged a stubborn me through a barb wire fence.

Safety on the farm has improved, and much of the credit should go to Marilyn Adams. I first met Marilyn in the late 1980's when I served on Governor Branstad's staff, and the Fair picture prompted me to look her up again.

A farm girl from Redfield, Iowa, she would become a farm wife near Earlham. Tragedy struck the family in 1986 when Keith, their 11 year old son, was suffocated in a gravity flow wagon of shelled corn on the family farm. Marilyn then began a campaign to promote farm safety awareness. In the process, she became aware of the alarmingly high number of children that are injured or killed on farms each year.

She couldn't bring Keith back to life, but perhaps she could spare others the heartache of losing a child in a preventable farming incident, so in 1987 Marilyn formed Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK). This nonprofit organization now serves the United States and Canada, providing resources and training to individuals and communities to conduct farm safety awareness and education programs. From very humble beginnings this compassionate and determined farm wife has overseen the steady growth of the organization.

Many activist organizations (ICCI, PETA, AARP, for instance) were started by irate people opposing a practice, or to protect themselves. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, though, was born with passion, and lives on with concern for kids. In contrast to others, FS4JK does not lobby.

JS4JK provides educational materials, programs, displays, family seminars, and day camps, through local volunteer chapters as they broaden grassroots support for farm safety and health. A year ago the Marshfield (Wisconsin) Clinic, a leading research facility with a Farm Medicine, Rural Health & Safety division, reported that the rate of childhood injury on farms and ranches has decline by nearly 60 percent since 1998.

While many factors are responsible for the steep decline, Marshfield cited FS4JK among other organizations and campaigns as important to the progress.

In 2010, FS4JK Outreach Coordinators and Chapters delivered more than 1,200 community events to 169,000 children, youth and farm families. They report having reached nearly two million more through media interviews, press releases, trade shows and fairs.

After losing a child in a farm accident in 1989, Sue (Hauser) Buss Robertson helped form a Plymouth County FS4JK chapter. Although the chapter is no longer a formal entity, Sue, and others are still active at events and in schools, promoting farm safety. She says FS4JK is a "Tremendous organization," and reminds us that "harvest is a particularly dangerous time, and to watch the corners where tall corn can obscure a driver's view."

In addition to teens and parents, Marilyn says emphasis is now given to pre-teens and grandparents. I hadn't thought about the latter, but many of us grew up with very permissive parents (when it came to working!) and we worked from a very young age with little supervision. Work is good. Working safely is essential and that requires supervision.

Grandparents, you taught your kids how to do things (in addition to how to make that noise with a hand cupped under the armpit), hopefully safely. You have more time, and hopefully knowledge, now, so work on your grandchildren. The life you save may be theirs. If your club or organization would like a program, contact Shari Burgus -800-423-5437, shari@fs4jk.org . Their web site is www.fs4jk.org .

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is another fine passion driven organization with a grassroots history. In 1980 Candy Lightner founded MADD in Fair Oaks, California, after her daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and MADD are both deserving of your support.

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236

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By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That


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