By Sean Battles
U.S. Commercial Team
Monsanto, in partnership with a top producer, co-sponsored “Safety Days” in rural Riceville, Iowa, recently. The Howard County Extension Farm event, featuring hands-on demonstrations and guest speakers who shared personal impact stories, brought farm and vehicle safety education to more than 450 local students and parents. Themed “A Family Affair,” the event organizers reminded participants that safety issues affect all generations, and that parents and children alike should take an active role.
Working toward the Same Issue
Linda and Jim Koenings, of Pinicon Farm in Iowa, grow corn and soybeans. Linda also is a nurse and mother of three. She knows that safety – in particular, farm safety – isn’t an afterthought.
“We have to practice safety,” Linda says. “Just as important, we have to share that knowledge and awareness with others in the community.”
Linda and Jim know that Monsanto supports many safety efforts around the United States. For instance, Monsanto is a sponsor of National Farm Safety & Health Week 2013, which occurs this week. In addition, Monsanto has developed a video series focused on safety in agriculture.
So, Linda reached out to Mike Beeler, Monsanto Top Producer Account Manager, and decided a safety event could help expand farm safety awareness to Riceville and surrounding areas.
It was a terrific idea – one that Steve and Rose Christensen of Christensen Agri Seeds also had considered after experiencing an ATV accident and grain bin fatality (too) close to their home. In 1993, the Christensens began hosting Safety Days at their farm, once every two to three years in Riceville.
The question, for Koenings and Beeler, then became: how can we pool resources, expand our outreach and deepen the event’s impact?
Meeting at the Howard County 4-H Extension, the growing team of safety advocates decided to seek additional financial support from other local and national ag organizations, and to also request the expertise of Monsanto’s Environmental Health and Safety (ESH) team. Commercial ESH Manager Ken Mathias was immediately on-board.
“Safety is part of Monsanto’s pledge – one way we help to improve farmers’ lives,” Mathias says. “When something like this is a collaborative effort, it becomes very powerful.”
Adds Koenings, “We’re all working toward the same issue – and that’s farm safety.”
Personal Stories of Impact
At Safety Days, many people – scheduled guest speakers, as well as participants – shared personal stories of accidents that impacted them or touched someone close in their lives. A local survivor of a grain bin accident, who was completely submerged before he was rescued, recounted his harrowing ordeal (participants had the chance to win two grain bin safety helmets through a raffle). Another speaker told of a mowing accident he experienced on the farm. In addition, a local farmer spoke about a sweep auger accident.
“This event’s focus on safety for kids and adults on the farm is very important,” Beeler says, who also presented tips to help prevent grain bin accidents. “The active engagement of not only the speakers, but the participants, was amazing.”
ESH Generalist Heather Fry showed the risks of texting while driving with the driving simulator. Local Channel District Sales Manager Steve Mahr presented on grain bin safety. Other topics included auger, tractor and ATV safety, and many others.
Since 1993, Safety Days has educated more than 1,500 farmers and kids.
In addition to getting a stronger awareness of safety, all of the kids who attended the event received a gift resource bag with farm safety equipment, including vests, personal protective equipment and smoke detectors.
All made possible by many collaborators with a common goal – farm safety.