Team members include Myra Whitehead, Autum Wittstruck, Nate Collette and Jensen Hoefert. Photo: Courtesy
HURON, S.D. - South Dakota Farmers Union announced Lennox FFA Chapter as the Farm Safety Quiz Bowl champions following the contest held September 3 during the South Dakota State Fair.
“Farm and ranch work can be dangerous if safety is not top of mind. This is the reason Farmers Union hosts this contest each year. To keep safety top of mind,” explained Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.
Members of the Lennox FFA Chapter include Myra Whitehead, Autum Wittstruck, Nate Collette and Jensen Hoefert. Each team member receives a cash prize. Lennox competed against three other FFA Chapters: Kimball FFA team - Luke Leheska, Gavin Walsh, Cylas Assman and Jayden Kolt; Canton FFA team – Jordan VanDeStroet, Jackie Kreber, Kaeden Bitterman and John Halverson; and Gettysburg FFA team – Tanner Eide, Owen Rausch, Alex Tanner and Garret Ziegler. The teams qualified to compete during the South Dakota FFA State Convention held in Brookings this spring.
“Anytime you have a competition, it adds an element of relevance to the topic – students pay a bit more attention,” said Canton FFA Advisor, Russ Swanson.
An agriculture education instructor/FFA advisor for 25 years, Swanson said as the numbers of South Dakota youth who actually grow up farms continues to decline, the need for farm safety education increases.
“To me, there are a lot of common-sense safety things that you’d expect students to know. But with fewer of them actually growing up on farms, they are not around livestock or large equipment enough to learn,” Swanson said. “What students learn when they study farm and ranch safety applies to activities off the farm or ranch. Like ATV safety.”
Participating in the quiz bowl does make farm safety top of mind explained Canton team member, Kaeden Bitterman.
“The other day I was driving a payloader up a hill and I was thinking about one of the questions from the Quiz Bowl. It asked, what is the safe way to drive a full payloader up a hill? It made me think about what I was doing,” said Bitterman, who works for area farmers as well as helping out on his family’s farm.
Teammate, Jackie Kreber had a similar experience. She said farm safety techniques came to mind as she was cleaning horse stalls during a July storm.
“Reading the horses’ body language, they were getting freaked out by the lightening and thunder. I began to look for the safest exit route so that I could get out of the stall without getting hurt,” said Kreber, who serves as Chapter Vice President.
Farm safety a year-round focus
Staying safe around livestock, large equipment and while driving all terrain vehicles (ATVs) are also the focus of the Farmers Union Farm Safety Trailer.
“This safety trailer helps us reach many South Dakota youth with fun, interactive and hands-on farm safety education throughout the year,” said Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of South Dakota Farmers Union.
During the State Fair the Safety Trailer welcomes hundreds of youth. And throughout the rest of the year, Farmers Union puts thousands of miles on the trailer, taking to schools, fairs, community, 4-H and FFA events across the state explained Rocky Forman, Membership Coordinator.
“Kids learn best by doing,” Forman says. “So, we made sure each safety lesson exhibited in this trailer engages youth in a hands-on activity.”
For example, youth can try on a safety harness while learning about grain bin safety; drive an ATV simulator to learn how to safely drive an ATV and through the 3-D model farm, they can learn about high-risk areas of the farm and how to be safe.
In addition to the Safety Trailer and Quiz Bowl, South Dakota Farmers Union also incorporates farm safety into their summer youth education programming. To learn more about how Farmers Union supports South Dakota’s farm and ranch families, visit www.sdfu.org.