Every year across the nation, more than 100 children die and more than 24,000 youth experience serious injury associated with agricultural activities. For the last 10 years, Ohio State University Extension has worked to reduce those numbers with Farm Safety Round-Ups, in which more than 12,000 youths have participated so far.
Thousands more will take part this year as the program marks its 10th anniversary with Round-Ups scheduled between April and October in 13 counties: Putnam, Morrow, Wood, Ross, Licking, Harrison, Ashland, Franklin, Auglaize, Fairfield, Monroe, Belmont and Williams.
Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Farm Bureau recognized the need for safety education and teamed together to create the farm safety day camps in 1997.
"There was a gap in youth safety education programs for farm kids, and injuries were on the rise," said Dee Jepsen, agricultural safety program director for OSU Extension. "Most young people do not learn agricultural safety practices until they enter the workforce."
The day camps provide youth an opportunity to learn about agricultural hazards and injury prevention. At the state level, OSU Extension, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio 4-H Foundation and Nationwide Foundation sponsor the camps. At the local level, various agencies are included in the planning and teaching of camp sessions, including fire departments, electrical cooperatives, health departments, and hospitals.
The mission of the day camp program is to teach youth about rural dangers commonly associated with farms and rural areas. However, campers do not have to be farm children to benefit from the educational sessions, Jepsen said. Injuries from horses, livestock, ponds, lawn mowers and electricity can occur to anyone, not just farm kids. Campers learn to use good judgment in a fun, interactive way.
"Whether these young persons live on a farm, live in the country, or visit relatives with rural roots, many enjoy the fun and enjoyment the country life offers," Jepsen says. "But many do not understand the dangers on Ohio farms and countrysides."
For more information regarding the Farm Safety Round-Up program, see its Web site at www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~agsafety/ash/programs/day_camps.html.