4th-graders get hands-on safety lessons

September 21, 2018

LAMBERTON, Minn. — Farm safety is an important thing to know — even for kids who live in town. A farm is a fun place to play and live; however, dangers abound on a working farm that could cause injury and even death.

This is why the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton has hosted an Elementary Field Day every year since 1996.

Cottonwood County 4-H coordinator Crystal Reith said 730 to 800 fourth-graders from around southwestern Minnesota attend the program each year.

“I think it is important that youth experience different degrees of safety concepts, whether that be farm safety or electrical safety,” Reith said. “If they aren’t exposed to (farms) on a daily basis, they may be exposed to it when they visit a friend’s house, or if they decide later to go into that as a line of work. It is good base knowledge everyone should have.”

Among the field day lessons: electrical safety, the dangers of grain bins, silos and wagons, as well as pinch points and PTOs.

Seniors and FFA members from the Westbrook-Walnut Grove School District were recruited to help with the program. Parker Freeburg, one of the volunteers, said working with the fourth-graders was a rewarding experience. He ran a hands-on display that demonstrated the difficulty of pulling a person out of a grain bin. Freeburg gave the kids tips on what to do, and what not to do, if they found themselves in this situation.

“It’s important for them to learn there are safe ways to be on a farm,” Freeburg said. “Seeing their faces — that this can actually happen and has happened to others — makes it worthwhile.”

In addition to safety, the students learned about soil, erosion, seed germination, composting with red worms, and saw a Science Museum of Minnesota show.

“Getting to play with the soil and making mud balls was the best,” said Annika Schmiesing, a student from Wabasso Public School. “We learned about how soil is made.”

Virginia Munson, a fourth-grader from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, thought the worms were the best part.

“We learned what the worms eat and how they turn food waste into compost,” she said. “They eat eggshells and have babies. We get to take some back to our class and start our own compost bin.”

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