'I Just Thought It Was a Fun Place to Hide'

FFA member tells a meaningful safety story from her youth.

Published on: Sep 28, 2010
National Farm Safety Week may have ended Saturday, but the need to practice and think in terms of safety continues 24/7, 365 days a year. It's especially important as some farmers near the end of harvest, when they're tired and perhaps a breakdown is more irritating than it would be if they weren't ready for a break. Fatigue haste and shortcuts are a recipe for disaster.

Nellie Bell, Indiana FFA southern region vice-president, part of the Indiana FFA State Officer team for 2010-2011, hails from Hagerstown, Ind. She recently took a shot at getting young people enthused about farm safety. She spoke to about 150 ag students, FFA members and adults at the recent ag safety forum sponsored by the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council. Lisa Chaudion, who works on agricultural education topics within the Department of Education in Indianapolis, is currently president of the Council.

"I remember when I was only four years old, and I was the only kid around," begins Bell, Hagerstown. "My father was in the barnlot, and was ready to get on the tractor and go to the field. I was thinking like four-year olds think."

That includes deciding to play hide and seek with dad, even if dad doesn't know he's playing hide and seek. In her young mind, a spot at the rear of the tractor, right up next to the big tractor tire, seemed like a great place to hide. Dad wouldn't find her there.

Fortunately, she was also impatient like most four-year olds. So after dad started the tractor but before he moved it, she jumped out from behind the tire, and shouted, 'Surprise!'

"I will never forget dad's reaction," she recalls. Even four-year –olds can often remember life-changing moments.

"It scared the daylights out of him," she recalls. "He was doing everything right, he thought I was out of harm's way- but I didn't cooperate."

Form that moment forward, her dad instilled the importance of farm safety and thinking about consequences into her mindset, Bell says. She's hoping FFA members and vo-ag students across the state will pick up the theme and encourage other young students to care about their well being.

Her whole message boils down to one sentence: Think before you act, especially on a farm with plenty of potentially dangerous situations there as part of the everyday way of doing business, even if you do your best to protect those around you. Farming is a dangerous occupation under the best of circumstances.